Court orders SEPLAT PDcx N Plc to pay ABM Global outstanding of N1.5n
Justice O. A Dabiri of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has ordered SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company Plc to pay its outstanding indebtedness of a sum to the tune of $2,112,500.00 (N1,499,875,000.00) to an oil servicing company, ABM Global Resources Limited.
The court took the decision while handing down her judgment in a debt recovery suit instituted by ABM Global Resources Limited against SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company Plc in a suit designated LD/2457GCMW/2016.
It would be recalled that ABM Global Resources Limited had in a bid to recover the money owed by SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company Plc for materials supplied to the oil prospecting company in 2016 through her lawyer, Ade Oyebanji, SAN, instituted a debt recovery suit before the court.
According to the amended statement of claim dated November 23, 2020, and filed by Oyebanji, SAN, on behalf of ABM Global Resources Limited, the claimant posited that sometimes between 2012 and 2014, SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company Plc secured her service to supply 9-5/8 N80 VAM Top Casing Pipes and 2-7/8 N80 HCS Tubing within the space of 3 years.
While adding that it supplied the defendant (SEPLAT) with all the numbers of 2-7/8 N80 HCS Tubing Pipes which were received by the defendant, ABM Global Resources Limited maintained that in fulfilment of the terms of the contract for the supply of the materials and adherence to the purchase order of the defendant, it made several supplies.
The plaintiff (ABM Global Resources Limited) further revealed that in fulfilling part of its obligations following the contract term, SEPLAT made an upfront payment of $3,640,000.00, being 80% of the total cost of the 50,000 feet of 9-5/8 N80 VAM Top Casing Pipes supplied, leaving a balance sum to the tune of $910,000.00 and $227,500.00 as Value Added Tax totalling $1,137,500.00.
ABM Global Resources Limited explained that it supplied the products requested by the defendant (SEPLAT) satisfactorily through its PO number 013537 and the defendant issued a Work Completion Certificate for the job.
The plaintiff equally stated that it issued invoice number ABM/MD/ SEPLAT/14/Vol.4/892, dated November 17, 2014, to the defendant in respect of the balance sum of $1,137,500.00 due on the supply, but the defendant has refused to settle the outstanding invoice.
It was equally the contention of the plaintiff that the defendant also requested the supply of 120,000 feet of 2-7/8 N80 HCS pipes and made an upfront payment of $3,120,000.00 being 80% of the total cost of the 120,000 feet of 2-7/8 N80 HCS Pipe in accordance with the terms of contract, leaving a balance sum of $780,000.00 and $195,000.00 (Value Added Tax), totalling $975,000.
ABM Global Resources Limited insisted that all the goods were supplied, with SEPLAT issuing a Work Completion Certificate, but that the defendant has refused to settle the outstanding debt despite repeated demands, hence the resort to litigation.
As a result, ABM Global Resources Limited is claiming from the defendant a sum to the tune of $1,137,500.00 and another $975,000.00 being the cost of the unpaid materials supplied to the defendant.
However, while the trial lasted, both parties called one witness each and tendered documentary evidence in support of their case.
While the claimant called its only witness, Chioma Kelechukwu, a Business Development Officer in the claimant company who came to identify her statement on Oath and was later cross-examined by the defence counsel, the defendant also called its lone witness, Igbi Oghenerume, the Lead Inventory Manager in the defendants’ company who also identified his statement on Oath and was cross-examined by the plaintiff counsel, Oyebanji, SAN.
Evaluating the documentary evidence before the court and counsels’ submissions, Justice Dabiri held that by the defence’s documents and oral testimony, there were no disputes that the defendant issued a Work Completion Certificate to the claimant after delivery of materials, which pre-supposes the satisfactory completion of certain job or activities.
The judge declared that the sanctity of a contract or agreement is to ensure that a party who voluntarily entered into a contract is bound by it, no matter how unfavourable it may turn out to be, as long as he entered into the contract fully conscious of what he was doing and had willingly signed same and the subject of the contract is lawful.
Justice Dabiri, on the issue of the shortfall of 17,842.02 feet of pipes as alleged by the defendant, declared that the defendant conducted an in-house reconciliation exercise and came up with a shortfall in the specifications of the items supplied to it by the claimant in 2012.
The judge then concluded that, to say the least, there were no sufficient materials placed before the court to prove that there was any shortfall in the supply, with the addition that the court was not furnished with any official report detailing the shortage, rather an internal memo was tendered before the court, a communication between departments within the same organisation.