Nigeria: Bank Asks Court to Stop Directors From Disposing Firm's Ikoyi, Agbara Properties Over N13. 3bn Debt

20 June 2022

First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) has approached a Federal High Court in Lagos for an order restraining six former directors of Commonwealth Consortium Limited and Agbara Estates Limited from disposing assets belonging to the two firms pending the hearing and determination of an alleged N13,420,159,607.78 debt suit.

The affected assets the bank is seeking to be protected in its interest are No. 21 Milverton Road, Ikoyi, Lagos and 21.222 Hectares in Agbara Estates, phase 3, Agbara, Ogun State.

First Bank, Commonwealth Consortium and Agbara Estates (both in Receivership), who are the 1st to 3rd plaintiffs, are specifically asking the court to grant an injunction ordering the six former directors to yield possession of the assets covered by Mortgage Deeds and deliver to the Receiver/Manager Mr. Oluwakemi Balogun, Statement of accounts, inventory of all Assets, list of debtors and all other documents in their custody.

In the suit marked: FHC/L/CS//2022, the plaintiffs were claiming that the six 1st and 2nd defendants in a bid to avoid repayment of depositors' funds trapped in their custody, had been dissipating their assets, which are personal in nature and taking steps to move all other moveable assets outside the jurisdiction of the court.

Mr. Kayode Ayeni, Mrs. Kikelomo Ayeni, former Ecobank Director Mr. Kolapo Lawson, Mr. Paulo Cruz, Mr. Tunji Lawson and Babatunde Akindele, former directors of the two firms were 1st to 6th defendants respectively.

Counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr. Oluwakemi Balogun, in the suit filed on May 11, stated that the 1st to 6th defendants are also taking steps to alienate or transfer the charged assets to unsuspecting third parties, adding that there is imminent risk of the 1st to 6th defendants frustrating the realisation of the charged assets and other assets of the 1st and 2nd Defendants.

Among the reliefs been sought from the court including an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 1st to 6th defendants and others including employees of the 2nd and 3rd Plaintiffs, "from interfering with or otherwise obstructing or frustrating Mr. Balogun, the Receiver/Manager appointed by First Bank in the course of performance of his statutory duties over the whole assets of the 2nd and 3rd Plaintiffs."

The assets are as covered by the Deed of Legal Mortgage of January 30, 2019 registered as No. 89 at Page 89 in Volume 213 of the Federal Lands Registry Lagos and further registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission on the 15th of November, 2019 over the assets known as No. 21 Milverton Road, Ikoyi, Lagos State.

They also cover the Deed of Tripartite Legal Mortgage of August 20, 2014, registered as No. 15 at Page 15 in Volume 1026 of the Lands Registry office at Abeokuta and further CAC over assets located within Agbara Estates phase 3, Agbara, Ogun State, measuring 21.222 Hectares.

Plaintiffs also prayed for, "an order of mareva injunction restraining all licensed banks and financial institutions in Nigeria from granting access, releasing or parting with any funds, money, shares, bonds, letters of credit, promissory note, bills of lading and other forms of negotiable instruments in their custody in the name of the 2nd Plaintiff and the 1st and 2nd Defendants and or any other account(s) with Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) 22224472100 and 22152857686 being operated individually or collectively by the 1st and 2nd Defendants up to the sum of N13,420,159,607.78."

According to the plaintiffs, the said sum was the outstanding liability of the 1st and 2nd defendants to the 1st Plaintiff as of September 9, 2021.

The plaintiffs in their motion on notice listed nine grounds upon which the application was based.

They said the 2nd Plaintiff acting through the 1st and 2nd defendant obtained several credit facilities from the 1st Plaintiff to finance the purchase of a property at 21, Milverton Road Ikoyi Lagos.

The defendants charged the asset situate at No. 21 Milverton Road, Ikoyi, and those within Agbara Estates Phase 3, Agbara.

They said owing to the failure and inability of the 1st to 6th defendants to liquidate the 2nd Plaintiff's indebtedness to the 1st Plaintiff as and when due, the 1st defendant's indebtedness to the 1st Plaintiff now stands at N13,420,159,607.78 as of September 9, 2021 in spite of repeated demands.

Hearing could not go on at the last sitting of May 16 and Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke subsequently adjourned till June 30 for hearing.

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