Truth & justice

Alleged $85.8m debt: Access Bank asks Supreme Court to re-freeze petroleum firm’s assets, accounts

The bank asked the apex court to restore the interim injunction of last November 23, which froze Seplat’s accounts and sealed its offices over alleged $85.8 million legacy debt.

Access Bank Plc has filed a Notice of Appeal at the Supreme Court, objecting to last Friday’s Court of Appeal suspension of a Mareva injunction on the assets of Seplat Petroleum Development Company.

The assets affected by the Mareva order included 25, Lugard Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos; 6, Agodogba Avenue, Parkview, Ikoyi, Lagos and the one at 11, Oba Adeyinka Oyekan Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The Lagos Division of the appellate court, last Friday, overturned the decision of Justice Rilwan Aikawa of a Federal High Court in Lagos which granted the injunction in the bank’s debt recovery suit against Seplat.

A three-man panel presided over by Justice Joseph Ikyegh held, among others, that Access Bank had nothing to lose if Seplat continued to discharge its obligation to its numerous clients, even as it lifted the order stopping banks from fulfilling their obligations to Seplat under banks-customers relationship.

Other defendants in suit are: Cardinal Drilling Services Limited, Mr. Orjiako Ambrosie Bryant and Kalu Nwosu.

But dissatisfied with the Appeal Court’s decision, Access Bank told the Supreme Court that the lower court erred in law when it suspended the Federal High Court’s interlocutory orders.

In an affidavit in support of its application, Access Bank maintained that “by discharging the said interlocutory orders, the lower court had unwittingly (via a motion) determined the main appeal which seeks to also discharge the interlocutory orders made by the trial court”.

Arguing that Seplat’s appeal at the lower court was an abuse of court process, filed to interfere with the due administration of justice, the bank prayed the Supreme Court to set aside the appellate court’s judgment and reinstate the interlocutory orders.

It also filed a Motion on Notice for an Order of Injunction, pending Appeal at the Court of Appeal, in order to restrain the Seplat, together with Cardinal Drilling Services Limited, Mr. Orjiako Ambrose Bryant, Kalu Nwosu, the bailiffs, sheriffs and/or any other person acting through them, from taking further step towards enforcing, executing or giving any effect to the ruling/order of the Court of Appeal delivered on January 22, 2021, pending the hearing and final determination of the appeal it has filed at the Supreme Court.

Justice Aikawa had granted the Mareva injunction, following the bank’s argument canvassed by its counsel, Kunle Ogunba (SAN).

The lawyer had told the court, among others, that the order was necessary to preserve the res from being disposed of before the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

Dissatisfied, Seplat appealed the ruling and urged the Appeal Court to suspend the order, pending the hearing of the appeal.

The Nation

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