$85.8m ‘Debt’: Court Strikes Out Seplat’s Application To Upturn Mareva Order
A Federal High Court in Lagos has struck out an oral application by an oil firm, Seplat Petroleum Development Company, seeking to vary an order of Mareva injunction which froze its account and sealed its offices.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa found merit in the argument of Access Bank Plc for sustaining the injunction against Seplat pending hearing of the bank’s motion on notice on January 26.
The bank’s argument was canvassed by its counsel, Mr Kunle Ogunba, SAN.
The judge struck out the application on Christmas eve in a virtual proceedings.
Seplat, Cardinal Drilling Services Ltd, Mr. Orjiako Ambrosie Bryant and Kalu Nwosu are the defendants/applicants in the suit.
The assets affected by the Mareva order include; 25, Lugard Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos, 6, Agodogba Avenue, Parkview, Ikoyi, Lagos and the one at 11, Oba Adeyinka Oyekan Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Justice Aikawa granted the Mareva injunction last November 23, following the bank’s application in a suit concerning the oil company’s alleged $85.5m legacy debt.
Ogunba had told the judge that the order was necessary to preserve the res from being disposed of before the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Upon being served with the order, Seplat filed an application dated 3 December, 2020 seeking to discharge the orders. The other defendants did same.
While awaiting the court’s ruling on the applications, Seplat filed another application dated 12 December, 2020, also seeking to discharge or lift the same interim order.
During the next adjourned date on December 14, Seplat’s Counsel, Mr Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, made an oral application praying the court to grant his client access to the frozen offices and accounts.
He averred that Seplat had posted a bond of $20 million dollars as security.
But Ogunba opposed him. The Silk told Justice Aikawa not to fall for the temptation thrown to it “by the debtor” who, according to him, owed over $85.8b which was enough to float two banks successfully in Nigeria.
Ogunba also prayed the court to refuse the application on the ground that it was not properly before the court, adding that the rules of court were meant to be obeyed with respect to making an application which must be filed formally.
In a bench ruling, Justice Aikawa upheld Ogunba’s argument and refused the oral application.