Commercial LawBusiness

Court fixes July 20 for hearing winding up suit against Eroton Exploration over $20m debt

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Thursday adjourned till July 20 a motion seeking to advertise the winding up and the objection of Eroton Exploration & Production Company, for alleged inability to pay Brightwaters Energy a consent judgment debt of $20 million.

Justice Akintayo Aluko fixed the date after refusing the application of Eroton’s counsel Mr Tola Oshobi SAN who said the application to hear first was the one seeking to commit two journalists to prison for publishing the court proceedings which were having negative effect on his client.

But Brightwaters Energy’s counsel Olumide Aju SAN told the court that the motion could not truncate the business of the day which was the hearing of the motion to advertise the winding up petition. He stressed further that a proceeding reported by a court reporter does not have anything to do with the Motion to Advertise. The lawyer therefore urged the court to refuse the application and set the winding up petition down for hearing. “Motion to Advertise with the full prayers on it has already been ordered by court to be made public. The bailiff has posted it publicly on the gate of the respondent. Press did nothing wrong in publishing it.”

Another party seeking to be joined, Librod Energy Limited also informed the court through its lawyer, Mr A Akpan, that their client had a judgment of N15 million and $74,000 US Dollars against Eroton Exploration. He also urged the court to set the case down for hearing and discountenance any form of distractions.

Justice Aluko in his ruling upheld the arguments of Olumide Aju SAN and Fidel that the petition for winding up should be heard first. The court ruled that the winding up petition would be heard alongside the objection. The judge later adjourned the case till July 20 to hear the Winding up Petition alongside the objection

The petitioner, in its motion of March 21, in suit FHC/L/C8/491/2022, is seeking “an order granting leave to Brightwaters Energy to advertise the winding up petition in the Federal Government Official Gazette, a national newspaper and other newspapers circulating in Lagos State, where the office and place of business of the respondent is situated or in such other newspaper as the court may direct.”

The grounds for the relief include: “the respondent is insolvent, has insufficient assets to meet its liabilities and has failed to liquidate indebtedness to the petitioner, which arose from an admitted judgment debt which Eroton consented to through Terms of Settlement and which they have refused to pay more than one year after the judgment was entered into by court.

“The 21-day statutory demand notice within the meaning of Section 572 (1) of Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 has since been issued to the respondent and same has elapsed.

“Notwithstanding the statutory demand notice within the meaning of Section 572 (1) of

Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020, the respondent has refused, failed and/or neglected to defray the debts owed to the petitioner.

The respondent also filed a preliminary objection on May 3, seeking “an order dismissing/striking out the instant petition for lack of jurisdiction,” on the grounds, among others, that “the petitioner/respondent (the respondent”), in filing a verifying affidavit with its petition on same date, robbed this court of jurisdiction to hear the instant Petition.”

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