A Nigerian businessman Dr Ambrose Bryant Chukwueloka Orjiako and his company Shebah Exploration and Production Company Limited have filed a petition before a federal high court in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria to set aside a judgement of $143,888,888.89 awarded against them by Justice Phillips of a high court of Justice of England and Wales.
In the said petition filed before the court by Orjiako and his company both of 25a, Lugard Avenue Ikoyi, Lagos, by a Lagos lawyer High Chief Anthony Idigbe SAN, against Africa Export-Import Bank, Diamond Bank Plc and Skye Bank Plc, as respondents.
It was alleged that vide a pre-export facility dated 1 July 2011, African Export-Import Bank, Diamond Bank Plc and Skye Bank Plc (the lenders) granted a credit facility in the sum of UD$100,000,000 only to Shebah Exploration and Production Company Limited for its general corporate and working capital to enable the company refinance its pre-existing debts.
The reference pre-export facility agreement was amended and restated in the sum of US$150,000,000 via agreement dated the 11th day of May, 2012.
However the company defaulted in its quarterly repayment obligations and this culminated in the lenders’suit before the high court of England and Wales in claim number 2014 Folio 665 against the company and the guarantors of the reference restated facility.
The lenders’ initial claim form was filed on the 11 March 2014.
Dr Orjiako a guarantor to the restated facility and his company filed a counter-claim against the lenders’ that due to breaches of the restated agreement, the lenders’ frustrated the company’s effort to fulfill its quarterly obligations.
Vide an application dated 27 June 2014,the lenders sought for summary judgement of the high court of Justice in England and Wales.
Orjiako and his company claims that judge of the high court of England and Wales, Mr Justice Phillips without recourse to the company’s counter claim proceeded to enter the summary judgement in favour of the lenders in the sum of US$143,888,888.89 on the 19th day of February, 2016 and denied the company permission to appeal the said decision.
The applicant was availed permission to appeal by the court of Appeal but the eventual appeal was dismissed. The applicant was subsequently refused permission to appeal by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
Via a letter dated 7 May 2018, Dr Orjiako and his company through a lawyer, were given notice of the orders of a Federal high court in Lagos issued by Justice Muslim Hassan in a suit FHC/L/CS /129 /2018 granting leave to the lenders to register the summary judgement of Mr. Justice Phillips of the court of Justice of the Queen’s Bench Division (commercial) dated 19th day of February, 2016 amidst other prayers.
Aside this case a winding up petition against Sheba Exploration and Production Company Limited is currently pending before another court of the Federal high court Lagos division and the Chief Registrar of the court has been appointed as the provisional liquidator of the company.
The petitioners averred further that the summary judgement of Mr Justice Phillips of the high court of Justice Queen’s Bench which is the tripod of the respondents application for leave and registration of said judgement was one which denied the petitioners of their automatic and fundamental right under Nigerian law and constitution to appeal against that decision, same having fully and finally disposed of the case against them.
Nigerian trial court not having any powers to deny the petitioners of the constitutionally protected power to appeal as of right against final decision -be it summary, such decision of the Queen’s bench decision is vitiated and incompetent abinitio for the purpose of Nigerian law under which the respondents have sought same to be registered.
Consequently, the petitioners, therefore prays the court for: An order to set aside the order of the court made on 21 February 2018 granting leave to the respondents to register the summary judgement.
An order nullifying the certificate of judgement dated the 28 March 2018 issued by the Chief Registrar of the court.
An order staying the execution of the summary judgement of Mr. Justice Phillips of the court of Justice of the Queen’s Bench Division pending the determination of the Shebah Exploration and Production Company Limited counter-claim by the high court of England and Wales.
The presiding Judge Muslim Hassan has adjourned till 23rd October 2018 for hearing.