Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Court Orders 18 Banks to Freeze Firm's Account

Lagos — A Lagos High Court has granted a garnishee order freezing money in the accounts of an oil servicing firm, Qed International (Oil & Gas) Limited, in 18 commercial banks in the country over its alleged refusal to pay a judgement debt of $406,803 (N65.8 million).

Justice Dotun Adefope-Okojie granted the order sequel to a motion ex-parte by Orion Engineering Services Ltd.

Qed International had dragged three firms, including Orion Engineering before the court, seeking some declaratory orders against the defendants.

The oil servicing firm has Mr. Femi Omotayo as its principal officer and director. He is now the Managing Director of AOS Orwell Limited in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The firm had entered into an agency relation with Orion Engineering Services Ltd in November 2008 for the supply of personnel and engineers to provide service for Shell's oil rigs and other assignments particularly on the Sea Eagle Vessel Offshore.

It was alleged that Qed International withheld and diverted over $462,688.88 and N36.1 million due to Orion Engineering for the supply of personnel and engineers to Shell and other assignments thereof particularly on the Sea Eagle Vessel Offshore.

The withholding and diversion of the money was against the clear terms of the agency relationship with Orion Engineering to the criminal investigation by the Special Fraud Unit, SFU, of Nigerian Police Force, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Omotayo, who was the Managing Director of Qed International at the time of the transaction, initiated a court action at the Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking various orders to curtail the investigative powers of the police.

However, Qed International similarly instituted a suit against Orion Engineering Services Ltd on February 18, 2011 at the Lagos State High Court, seeking some declaratory orders against the defendants. Judgement was entered against Qed International in the suit initiated by it on November 15, 2011.

In the judgement, the court held that the sum of $406,803 and N14.4million, being the outstanding payments on invoices due to Orion Engineering Services Ltd by Qed International as mutually agreed and as contained in the terms of settlement dated the October 31, 2011 be dully discharged and completed within a period of six months from November 15, 2011 of entering the terms of settlement as the judgement of the court.

Though some part of judgment debt had been paid, Orion Engineering, however, went to court, asking for the garnishee order nisi against the banks holding the accounts of Qed International over the balance of $406,803.

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