Alleged N5.5bn Debt: Court fixes June 21 Ruling in Ecobank Against Otudeko’s Firm, Anchorage Leisures’ Suit

Justice Jude Kanyoh Dagat of a Lagos Federal High Court, has fixed June 21, for ruling in in a debt recovery suit filed by Ecobank Plc against one of companies belonging to Dr. Oba Otudeko, Anchorage Leisures Limited.


Justice Dagat fixed the date after listening to arguments of lawyers representing the two parties last Friday.


At the resumed hearing of the suit on Friday, which was slated for   hearing of three out of five pending applications before the judge, Mr. Kunle Ogunba (SAN), informed the court that Honeywell Group was trying to avoid paying the debt it owned the bank.


He informed the court that Otudeko’s company wanted to bury the fact of its indebtedness to the bank by engaging in subterfuge.


“They are throwing all spanners in the work to avoid paying the debt. As I speak, the indebtedness is over N4 billion,” Ogunba said.


However, the respondent, Anchorage Leisures Limited, through its lawyer, Bode Olanipekun, informed the court that   it had fully liquidated its indebtedness to the bank.


Anchorage Leisure informed the court that the banks have not stated how much it owe, and did not exhibit its statement of account to show that it is indebted.

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“It is the law that where there is no statement of account, a party is not entitled to any indulgence,” Olanipekun said.


Anchorage Leisures therefore urged the court to dismiss the bank’s prayers.


Consequently, Justice Dagat adjourned until June 21 for ruling.


The bank, Ecobank Nigeria Limited had approaches court to restrain Anchorage Leisures Limited from accessing its funds in 20 banks over an alleged N5.5 billion debt.


The bank had also claimed that Anchorage and its sister companies, Honeywell Group Nigeria Limited and Honeywell Four Mills Plc, all owned by billionaire mogul, Dr Oba Otudeko, are indebted to it.


The bank had stated that Honeywell Group should be barred from accessing its funds in Zenith, Access, Citibank, Standard Chartered, Wema, Enterprise, Union, First, Skye, Sterling and Unity banks.


Others are Keystone, United Bank for Africa, Mainstreet, First City Monument, Diamond, Stanbic IBTC, Guarantee Trust, Fidelity and Ecobank.


The court presided over by Justice Mohammed Yunusa, had, last October 27, 2015, granted an interim injunction preserving the res (funds) pending hearing of the bank’s application for the appointment of a provisional liquidator over Anchorage’s assets.

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“The interim order made on October 27, 2015, was made particularly to prevent the respondent from dissipating its funds in the custody of all the banks listed.


“There is urgent need to preserve the res of the appeal to avoid foisting a situation of helplessness on the Court of Appeal, a superior court of record,” Ecobank said.


However, the court led by Justice Dagat had on March 18, 2016, discharged the interim orders made against Anchorage last October 27, but Ecobank appealed the discharged.


Justice Dagat, discharge the orders following an application by Anchorage Leisures Limited that the orders had expired.


Ecobank, through its lawyer, Ogunba (SAN), had said the judge should not have discharged the injunction because it was to subsist until its winding-up petition was determined.


Ecobank said if Anchorage is not restrained, it would take advantage of the discharged of interim orders to dissipate the funds, which is the subject of the winding-up petition, thus rendering the appeal nugatory.

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It also claimed that when the “huge obligations” of the three sister companies hit N5.5 billion, Otudeko pleaded with the bank to grant them “huge concession to enable them liquidate their indebtedness.


The bank said following further negotiation, it was agreed that Otudeko’s companies would make a “bullet payment” of N3.5 bilion, but claimed that they allegedly failed to do so.


However, Anchorage had urged the court to refuse Ecobank’s application because it would be “greatly prejudiced” if it is granted.


Otudeko’s company insisted that the bank has failed to show to court that it were indeed indebtedness to it

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