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Unpaid Debt: Petrocam asks court to wind-up BRT operator, Primero

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Mr Fola Tinubu has announced an increase in Lagos BRT fares

Hard time awaits several commuters who use of BRT buses in Lagos, as an indigenous petroleum company, Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited, has applied to a Lagos Federal High Court, for the winding-up of Primero Transport Service Limited, the operator of Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) over indebtedness.

Petrocam in a suit marked FHC/L/CP/1702/20, brought before the court, pursuant to Order 19, Rule 1, of the Company Winding-Up Rules of 2001, and under the court’s inherent jurisdiction, is seeking for the leave of the court to advertise the Premero’s winding up petition in the Gazette and in Thisday Newspaper or Punch Newspaper or any other widely circulating newspaper.

The petitioner, Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited, stated that it’s request before the court is sequel to Primero’s failure and continued failure to pay the debt of N63, 466,000 million.

Petrocam in its petition for winding-up Primero Transport Service Limited and verifying affidavit in support of the petition deposed to by financial manager, Taiwo Abiodun, and filed before the court, stated that sometime between the months of January, 2019 and January, 2020, upon the request of the respondent, the petitioner made a supply of automated gas oil, lubricant oil and gear oil worth the sum of N174, 046, million, and that the supply was made on credit on the agreement that the respondent will pay N10 million, as advance payment before the delivery and balance payment 30 days after invoice date.

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The financial manager stated that Petrocam supplied the Automated Gas Oil as agreed however, contrary to the agreement of the parties, the Primero failed to make payment to the Petitioner.

Union Bank has sued Petrocam for failing to pay back Import Trade Facilities

He stated that when Primero refused to pay the money as agreed, several letters were written to Primero to liquidate its outstanding indebtedness in the sum of N113, 446, 000 million, and that upon receipt of the letters, respondent only paid a paltry sum of N1,866,000 million, N28, 114,000 million and N20 million, leaving the sum of N63, 466 million, as outstanding.

The petitioner’s financial manager stated however that when it became glaring that the respondent did not want to be the outstanding of N63, 466 million, the petitioner, Petrocam instituted a suit marked FHC/L/CP/1239/20 against the respondent but same was discontinued with a promise by the respondent to pay the total outstanding sum by November 6, 2020, but the respondent has despite receipt of the said letter failed and or neglected to accede to same.

He stated that the respondent, having fully utilized the products and despite several and persistent demands by the petitioner, the respondent has wilfully failed, refused and/or neglected to repay the outstanding sums due to the petitioner.

On the need for leave to advertise the Winding-Up of Primero Transport Service Limited, the financial manager stated that the petitioner as such applies by petition for winding up of the respondent’s company on the ground that it is unable to pay the debt owed, after same has become due and the petitioner has made a formal demand for the payment of the said debt.

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He also stated that the respondent has not in any way whatsoever denied its indebtedness to the petitioner. But it has become insolvent and therefore unable to pay its debt, because it is more than 21 days and the company has not made the payment as demanded in the petitioner’s several letters of demand dated May, 14, 2020, June 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020 respectively, adding that, the amount demanded exceeds N200, 000, 00.

He also stated that pursuant to Sections 571 (d) and 572 (a) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020, Primero Transport Services Limited has shown its incapacity to pay its debts contrary to Section 571 and 572 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020.

He therefore urged the court to declare that Primero Transport Services Limited be wound up under the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act.

However, the BRT operator has asked the court to dismiss the winding-up suit against it on the ground debt referred to by the petitioner is currently a nonexistent debt.

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Primero in its counter-affidavit deposed by a legal practitioner, Mejulu Henry of Hawkes Legal, stated that the petitioner centers on an obligation to pay’ money pursuant to supply of Automated Gas Oil, Gear oil and other oil additives between parties.

Mejulu averred that he is aware that the respondent since the commencement of their business relationship with the petitioner has always enjoyed a credit relationship as a result of the volumes/orders requested from the petitioner.

The deponent stated that the respondent is not indebted to the petitioner in the sum of N63, 466, 000 million, adding that, between January 20 and 22, 2021, the respondent had made further payments of the sum of N64 million which is far in excess of the debt claimed by the petitioner.

The deponent while claiming that the debt referred to by the petitioner is currently a nonexistent debt, stated that, the respondent is not insolvent and is in a position to pay its debts.

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Mejulu also claimed that the petition was mainly to paralyze the respondent’s businesses and severely injure its reputation and corporate image.

Meanwhile, Justice Lewis Allagoa, has fixed February 25, for hearing of the suit.

Justice Allagoa fixed the date after counsel to the parties, told the court on January 18, 2022, that all efforts to reach amicable settlement of the debt had broken down.

Petitioner’s counsel, Tokunbo Davis of Kemi Pinheiro LP, told the court that parties had attempted to resolve but such moves had collapsed.

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Responding, Mejulu told the court that parties have not close the window for settlement.

Mejulu asked the court for a short adjournment to enable the respondent, to regularise it’s position.

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