Senior lawyers pay tribute to Wigwe, agree to work on settlement in $101m bankruptcy suit

Ogunsakin Mustapha
4 Min Read
Late Dr Herbert Wigwe

The name of the Mr Herbert Wigwe, the late Group Managing Director of Access Holding who died at the weekend in a helicopter crash in the United States of America was resounding before a Federal High Court, Lagos on Monday as some lawyers paid glowing tributes to his memory.

It was in a case of alleged bankruptcy filed before Justice Isaac Dipeolu between Access Bank and a businessman, Dr Ambrose ‘ABC’ Orjiakor who allegedly owed Access Bank a sum of $101 million. The judge advised parties to explore  an agreeable settlement.

Access Bank filed the suit marked FHC/L/BK/08/2023, following the alleged inability of Dr. Orjiakor to pay the $101 million he allegedly owes the bank.

Listed as respondents in the suit are Seplat Energy Plc; Helko Nigeria Limited, Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc; Salvic Petroleum Resources Limited; Zebbra Energy Limited; Ordrec Group Limited; Helko Marine Services Limited; Berwick Nigeria Limited; Abbeycourt Petroleum Company Limited; Abbeycourt Energy Services Limited; Abbeycourt Company Limited and Pursley Resources Limited.

The case, formerly before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, is now being heard by Justice Isaac Dipeolu following Justice Oweibo’s transfer out of the jurisdiction.

At the commencement of proceedings, Kunle Ogunba SAN led a team on behalf of the Creditor {the bank}, Anthony Idigbe SAN led a team on behalf of the Debtor, Nwosu Esq led a team on behalf of 1st Respondent, T.Ipaye appeared for the 2nd-4th and 7th-12th respondents, A.C Onuoha appeared for the 5th and 6th Respondents, Oluwakemi Balogun SAN led a team on behalf of Zenith bank Plc (party affected by order of court), while E. Akaeuduvo led a team on behalf Providus bank (Interested Party).

Idigbe argued the alleged debtor’s motion dated August 14, 2023 (and its further affidavit) challenging the Jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.

He was opposed by Ogunba via a counter affidavit, following which Ogunba argued a motion dated 19th September 2023, seeking to relieve the Creditor of any non-compliance with the Bankruptcy Act.

Late Dr Herbert Wigwe

After protracted arguments and submissions by counsel, the court urged parties to explore settlement noting the peculiar circumstance of this case.

Responding, Balogun thanked the court for encouraging parties to settle and applied for the court to make an interim order directing parties to meet with all Creditors {including Zenith Bank} to enable amicable resolution of the matter, and to also adjourn to a longer date to enable parties to explore settlement before the next adjourned date.

Ogunba informed the court that the creditor was not opposed to settlement. He prayed the court to adjourn for a month for parties to return with a settlement report.

Ogunba then paid tributes to the late Wigwe, saying the death was “personally painful” adding that he personally attended the day’s proceedings to foster his legacy. Other senior lawyers,Idigbe, and Balogun not minding being in opposed camps also eulogized the fallen banker.

But Justice Dipeolu said the court was not minded to make the said order prayed Balogun, noting that he would not want to make an order that may affect the substantive suit at an interlocutory stage.

He adjourned till April 16, 2024, for a report of settlement.

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