Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos has turned down an oral application by Seplat Petroleum Development Company to access its accounts and offices which were earlier shut down by a Mareva injunction obtained by Access Bank against it.
This is a sequel to an adjournment on the court ruling obtained on Thursday, December 12, 2020, over the controversial $85.8 million debt. In lieu of this, Seplat Petroleum filed another application dated 12 December 2020, also seeking to discharge or lift the same interim order.
Seplat’s counsel, Mr. Abubakar Mamoud, SAN prayed the court to grant his client access to the offices and the accounts that were frozen pursuant to the order of the court. He averred that Seplat had posted a bond of $20 million as security. However, this appeal was vehemently rejected by Access Bank and thrown out by the Federal High Court, Lagos.
Reacting to the move by Seplat Petroleum, the Counsel to Access Bank, Mr. Kunle Ogunba, SAN described it as “Bizarre, unknown to our laws, unprofessional, speculative and utterly presumptions of the reserved ruling of the court.”
Mr. Ogunba urged the court not to pre-empt the outcome of its earlier ruling and not to accept the $20 million bond which in his view is inconsequential or trivial to the $85.8 million debt.
Nairametrics gathered that some of the assets affected by the order include; 25, Lugard Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos; 6, Agodogba Avenue, Parkview, Ikoyi, Lagos; and 11, Oba Adeyinika Oyekan Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Record of the corporate battle between Access Bank and Seplat Petroleum
Access Bank, the plaintiff/respondent in the suit, had earlier secured an ex-parte Mareva Injunction dated November 13, 2020, to shut Seplat’s premises and freeze its accounts in Nigeria and abroad. This is due to an outstanding loan of about $85.8million incurred by Cardinal Drilling Services – a third party that provides drilling services to Seplat Petroleum.
- The line of argument upheld by the Bank is that Seplat Petroleum is a party or obligor to the loan obtained under the defunct Diamond Bank. It also believed that Seplat’s Chairman, ABC Orjiakor, is a stakeholder in Cardinal Drilling Services.
- In response to this, Seplat petroleum refuted the allegations, and its Chairman who is the first defendant filed an application dated December 3, 2020, seeking to discharge the orders. The other defendants did the same.
- The court heard the applications last Thursday, December 10, 2020, in a proceeding that took more than five hours. It also heard Access Bank’s application for an Interlocutory injunction.
- 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.
- On Monday, December 14, 2020, the court turned down the request to lift the interim order and fixed December 24, 2020, as the date for ruling on an earlier application filed by Seplat.
What you should know: Nairametrics had earlier reported that Seplat Petroleum corporate headquarters is most likely to remain under lock and keys until 2021, except it gets the court to vacate the order against it at the next sitting.