Blow by blow account of the Stella Oduah vs Sterling Bank $16.4 million debt saga
On Tuesday, a Federal High Court in Lagos further postponed the hearing in a suit by Sterling Bank against a former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, over alleged indebtedness. With all parties to the case present, the hearing was adjourned due to the Presiding Judge Ayokunle Faji being indisposed. This, however, is the latest in the events related to the $16.4 million and N100.5 million debt claim against the former Minister. Here is how it unfolded.
- On October 8,2012, Sterling Bank granted a lease /cabotage vessel finance facility to Sea Petroleum and Gas Company in the sum of $10,069,620.25 to finance one unit 5,000 MT tanker vessel.
- The collateral for the loan facility were unconditional personal guarantee of the companies director, Princess Stella Oduah, statement of her net worth, legal mortgage of two properties worth N135 million, power of Attorneys of the tanker vessel in favor of Sterling Bank and fully executed irrevocable standing payment order and tripartite remittance agreement between First Bank plc, Sterling Bank and Stella Oduah.
- On June 27 2013, Sea petroleum company requested for and was granted additional facilities in the sum of $449,600.00 for post-delivery expenses, $642,954.00 and $350,000 to meet the requisite conditions in securing of the Federal High Court in securing the release of the tanker.
- On February 22 2017, the business manager, Maritime of Sterling Bank Plc Mr Segun Akinsanya swore an affidavit, which was filed and argued by Barrister Kemi Balogun (SAN).
- According to Akinsanya, the defendants are serial debtors, being also greatly indebted to a number of banks and have conceded a number of assets to AMCON who have stepped into the shoes of those banks.
- Stella Oduah and her companies urged the court to discharge the order made against them also filed preliminary objection to the suit on the ground that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
- The then Presiding Justice Anka adjourned till 20 March, 2017 to decide either to vacate the order or not.
- The Court, however, restrained Senator Stella Ada Oduah and Sea Petroleum and Gas Company Limited and his directors from making any withdrawal whatsoever from the account of the company and three other Limited Liability companies, Sea Shipping Agency Limited, Rotary Engineering Services Limited, and Tour Afrique Company Limited domicile with 21 commercial banks listed before the court.
- Senator Stella Oduah described as untrue the allegations of her indebtedness saying “I resigned from the company since 2010. Sterling got injunction on earlier order. They gave sea shipping facility to buy vessel. They defaulted. But the order elapsed today. The lawyers appealed for set aside. That was what they argued today and order was set aside”
- Justice Ayokunle Faji is scheduled to replace Justice Anka and restart the hearing afresh. The Court sets 30th May 2017 as hearing date.
- Court cannot sit on 30th May as Justice Faji is indisposed. The case is further adjourned until June 29