AMCON urges Court to okay sale of Capital Oil assets

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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja
Travails of the Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, Mr Ifeanyi Uba, took a fresh dimension yesterday, as the Asset Management Corporation ofNigeria, AMCON, sought leave of a Federal High Court sitting inAbuja to sell all the petroleum products within the disposal of the embattled firm.

AMCON, through its lead counsel, Mr Kemi Balogun, made the oral application on a day the Managing Director of Capital Oil, Uba, also pleaded with the high court to go ahead and vacate the forfeiture order it earlier issued against the company.

Ifeanyi Uba

It would be recalled that the high court presided over by Justice Abdul Kafarati, had on November 13, ordered AMCON to take immediate possession of properties and assets of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, following allegation that the oil firm is indebted to AMCON to the tune of N48.014 billion.

Nevertheless, in a bid to reclaim possession of its assets, Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, re-approached the high court on November 22, begging it to vacate the interim order, even as it urged the court to grant it access to 50 percent of the credit balance in some of its accounts with the United Bank of Africa, UBA, to enable the company to pay salaries and attend to personal needs of its staff.

Despite vehement opposition that was raised against that application by AMCON, however, Justice Kafarati, said the defendants could withdraw 25 percent of the amount disclosed by UBA in an affidavit it tendered before the court, just as it slated yesterday to hear the application seeking to set aside the interim order that was issued against the company ab-initio.

Specifically, Uba and his distressed company sought an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the plaintiff from disposing, selling or leasing its properties, pending the determination of the suit.

An affidavit in support of the motion said both parties had agreed on modalities for re-payment of the loans and rescheduled payment to be spread over a period of eight years from 2013.

Aside the defendants, AMCON had also listed 21 banks with which the defendants operate different accounts.

It would be recalled that Uba and Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited, were among the 113 companies and 419 directors/shareholders that the Central Bank ofNigeria, CBN, listed as AMCON debtors.

The banks have since been barred from extending further credit to the debtor companies and their directors until they repay their loans.

Meantime, at the resumed sitting on the matter yesterday, a team of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, comprising Chief Wole Olanipekun and  Lawal Rabana, begged the presiding judge to vacate the interim order that was made against the company, insisting that doing so will be in the interest of the general public.

It was their contention that the seizure of assets of the company had already manifested in scarcity of petroleum products across the federation, stressing that Capital Oil is the second largest supplier of fuel in Nigeria.

Moreover, Olanipekun, SAN, argued that AMCON was yet to commence the debt recovery action which he said was meant to be carried out within 14 days from the date the interim order was granted.

While opposing the application, AMCON, urged the court to okay sale of all the petroleum products within the disposal of the company, saying it intend to keep proceeds of the sale in an interest yielding account to be opened in the name of the Chief Registrar of the High Court.

Noting that the petroleum product has continued to evaporate, AMCON described Uba’s application as frivolous; stressing that the report of an inspection agency jointly set up by parties in the suit showed that the defendant had only 21 million liters of fuel in its tank, which he said was just enough to lastLagosStatefor only one day.

After listening to arguments from all the parties, Justice Kafarati adjourned the case till December 11 for ruling.

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