Commercial Law

Court restrains Debt Management Office from paying Vine Oil N628m

By Michael Ojo

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday granted a Mareva injunction restraining the Debt Management Office (DMO) from paying Vine Oil & Gas Ltd and a businessman, Ben Chukwujama N628million standing to the credit at Sterling Bank.

Justice Saliu Saidu made the order following an application by D.A. Awosika, SAN, for 1st Plaintiff/Respondent, Sterling Bank.

Vine Oil & Gas, Chukwujama and DMO are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants/respondents in the suit.

Awosika had told the judge that the bank has a pending action to recover N3,550.933.501 which liability arose from the grant of several trading facilities and funding of letters of credit for importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and other Petroleum Support Trust fund (PSP) Scheme, which the 1st Defendant has failed to liquidate despite several demand notices.

He said the 1st and 2nd Defendants were poised to obtain and dissipate the Promissory Note (PN) sum of N628m now in custody of the DMO which is to be paid to them as Excess Bank interest and Foreign Exchange Differential under the defunct PSFS and prayed that they be prevented from accessing the money until the determination of the substantive suit pending before the court.

According to him, the 1st Defendant is about to divert the outstanding Promissory Notes to paying some Creditors.

Granting the prayers, the judge held: “The Plaintiff (Sterling Bank) has shown that the 1st and 2nd Defendants have been taking advantage of the Funds/Promissory Notes in the 3rd Defendant’s custody to deplete same and in satisfaction of their debts to other Financial institutions.

“These depositions were not challenged by the 1st and 2nd Defendants by way of an Affidavit or documentary evidence. Failure to counter an allegation made by an adverse party in an affidavit amounts to the fact being deemed established.

“The Mareva Orders prayed for by the plaintiff is merely to secure or preserve the res, which is the sum of N628 million in the custody of the 3rd Defendants. I therefore grant as follows:

“The 3rd Defendant whether by itself, its agents…are restrained from paying the 1st and 2nd Defendants/respondents the N628m or any sum standing to the credit of the 1st Defendant/ Respondent as Excess Bank Interest and Foreign Exchange Differentials to be paid as Promissory Notes (PNs) or howsoever described for the Defendant/Respondent’s outstanding payment pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

“The 1st and 2nd Defendants are restrained from approaching or applying to the 3rd Defendant/Respondent to be paid the N628m or any sum outstanding to the credit of the 1st the Defendant/Respondent as “Excess Bank Interest” and “Foreign Exchange Differentials or however described…for the 1st Defendant/ Respondent’s outstanding payment under the defunct Petroleum Support Fund Scheme (PSFS) pending the hearing and determination of the substantive Suit.”

“The 3rd Defendant/Respondent is directed to release the Promissory Notes issued in the name of the 1st Defendant in the sum of N628m to the Plaintift/Applicant to enable the Plaintiff/Applicant process and dematerialize the said Promissory Notes with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and that the proceeds arising therefrom be deposited into the te Detendant account with the Plaintiff/Applicant.”

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