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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Court fixes June 29 to hear suit against Stella Oduah

A Federal High Court Lagos on Tuesday, further adjourned till June 29, the hearing in a suit by Sterling Bank against a former Aviation Minister, Sen. Stella Oduah, over alleged indebtedness.

The bank alleged that Oduah and her company, Sea Petroleum and Gas company Ltd, were indebted to it in the sum of $16.4m and N100.5m.

The suit, which was earlier adjourned for hearing of all pending applications, was however adjourned to June 29 because the trial judge, Justice Ayokunle Faji, was indisposed.

Counsels representing all the parties were present in court.

The suit was initially pending before Justice Abdulaziz Anka of the same court, but was eventually, reassigned to Faji to begin afresh.

In March, Justice Anka had issued an order, restraining Oduah and her companies, from making any withdrawal from its account and those of three other companies domiciled with 21 banks in the country.

The other companies include Sea Shipping Agency Ltd, Rotary Engineering Services Ltd, and Tour Afrique Company Ltd.

The court had also, issued an order directing the said commercial banks harbouring the assets of Oduah and the four companies to sequestrate their indebtedness as at November 2016.

The court also ordered that the money be kept in an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court, pending the determination of the suit.

An affidavit sworn to by a staff of Sterling Bank, Mr Segun Akinsany, stated that on Oct. 8, 2012, the bank granted a lease/Cabotage Vessel Finance Facility (CVFF) to Sea Petroleum and Gas Company.

He said that the facility was in the said sums to finance one unit 5,000 MT tanker vessel.

He averred that the loan was secured by an unconditional personal guarantee of the companies’ director, Princess Stella Oduah.

Akinsanya also averred that same was supported by a statement of her net worth, legal mortgage of two properties worth N135 bn, and a power of Attorney of the tanker vessel in favour of Sterling Bank.

He averred that also in support was a fully executed standing payment order and tripartite remittance agreement between it and Oduah.

It was further averred that on June 27, 2013, Sea Petroleum Company requested and was granted additional facilities in the sum of about 450,000 dollars for post delivery expenses.

He said that also granted was about 993, 000 dollars to meet the requisite conditions in securing the release of the tanker.

Also, he averred that upon the persistent failure of the defendants to liquidate their indebtedness, Sterling Bank instructed its counsels to recover the debt.

He said that in spite of several reminders, and demands, the defendants had failed and refused to liquidate their indebtedness which had culminated to $16.4m, and about N100.5mas at November 2016.

He averred that there was imminent risk of the defendants dissipating the assets of the companies, and had urged the court to issue a restraining order.

Meanwhile, Oduah and her companies in its processes had urged the court to discharge the order made against them.

They had also filed a preliminary objection to the suit, urging the court to strike it out for lack of jurisdiction.

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