By Innocent Anaba
Giant Tyre Manufacturing Company DN Tyre and Rubber Plc, formerly Dunlop Nigeria Plc, has instituted a $14.6million suit on a commercial bank, a church and five others over alleged illegal acquisition of its land.
The claimant, the owner of 20.22 acres of land at plot 23, Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja in the suit before a Lagos High Court, is alleging complicity of the bank, Word of Power Global Ministries International (The Triumphant Christian Centre) and other defendants in the alleged forceful acquisition of 12,500 square metres from its land.
Apart from the bank and the church, other co-defendants in the suit are Rev. S.O. Olubiyo, Pastors Harriet Olubiyo, Akin Ayanwale, Lagos Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and Lagos State Land Use and Allocation Committee for an alleged forceful invasion of its property.
Meanwhile, the bank in its response to the suit, has insisted that the property in dispute was offered to it by the claimant to liquidate multiple loan facilities to the time of N600 million granted the claimant.
The bank in its consequential statement of defence denied D.N.Tyre’s allegations, claims and damages, saying it was not in any way whatsoever liable as claimed.
It urged the court to dismiss it as not only unconscionable, misconceived, gold digging, frivolous, abuse of process but lacking in merit.
On its part, the church contended that the claimant has neither legal nor equitable interest on the whole land as it had offered a portion of the land measuring 12,500 square metres to the bank to liquidate its indebtedness to it.
D. N. Tyre in the suit is asking the court to compel the defendants to pay $14, 659, 116 in damages and restrain them from further entering, blocking, encroaching on or further entering, building, developing the land which is the subject matter in the case or otherwise howsoever, interfering in any manner whatsoever with the claimant’s possession of the premises.
It specifically asking the court to compel them to pay an interest of 20 per cent per annum on the $14, 659, 116 until judgment and 10 per cent until debt was fully liquidated.
The property, Plot 23, Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos, comprising of 20.22 acres, was leased to the tyre company in 1962 following a Deed of sub-lease by the Western Region Housing Corporation.
The property, however, became a subject of litigation following an alleged tampering of a loan facility granted it by the bank, which it allegedly terminated prematurely on the grounds of failure to repay the loan facility as at when due.
The claimant also accused the bank of deliberately blocking it from accessing the facility.
D.N. Tyre told the court in its amended claim that “by a Deed dated December 18, 2009, the claimant purported to assign to the 1st defendant (bank) an unidentified (unspecified) portion of the claimant land for the total sum of N625million.
“During their negotiations, as witnessed in the letter dated March 1, 2010, in order to induce the claimant to enter into the contract, the 1st defendant made the following false representations to the claimant: a. That the claimant (D.N. Tyre) was owing 1st defendant the sum of N615,905, 390.69, arising as aforesaid; that the above debt represented the true debt owed the 1st defendant by the claimant and its subsidiary (Pamol Nig. Ltd) and c. That the balance over and above the purchase sum of N625million would be paid over to the claimant.
“Induced by and acting in reliance upon each of the representations, the claimant entered into the contract and purported to assign the property as set out above.”
It claimed that the bank gave an unsubstantiated excuse that it was a directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
“In addition to the other incidences of breach that will be set out hereunder, arising from false accounting, the 1st defendant further breached the terms of the transaction and also breached the law when; . It prematurely called up the facility by a final demand for repayment of the outstanding indebtedness by a letter dated 8, September 2008; It created a false debit balance of N377,818,126.29 against D.N. Tyre and Rubber Plc. for settlement; It created an alleged debit balance in Pamol Nigeria Ltd account of N238,087,264.40 and transferred the same to D.N. Tyre and Rubber Plc.”
It added that “Consequent upon the insistence of the claimant (D.N.Tyre) that all issues must be resolved before possession could be handed to the bank, the 1st, and 2nd defendants commenced a legal action against the claimant at the Ikeja division of the Lagos High Court.
“The claimant avers further that on April 2, 2012 about 2.25p.m., while suit no.ID/264/2011 was pending, persons, who the claimant’s staff later identified as the staff, workmen, servants, agents and privies of the 1st to 5th defendants accompanied by two busloads of armed policemen led by the 3rd to 5th defendants, who are leaders of the 2nd defendants and some others broke into the premises of the claimant at No. 23, Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos.
“The claimant contends that the actions of the 1st to 5th defendants in concert with the 1st defendant in forcefully breaking into and occupying the claimant’s premises while their suit was pending in court amounted to gross violation of the rule of law, extreme lawlessness, self-help and contempt of the judiciary.”
D.N. Tyre, however, sought the following declarations among others;
*A declaration that the alleged memorandum of sale dated December 23, 2010 is unlawful, illegal and void and therefore be set aside;
*A declaration that the actions of the 1st and 2nd defendants aided by bus load of armed policemen under the supervision of the 3rd to 5th defendant on April 2, 2012 are wrongful, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.”