By Henry Ojelu
LAGOS—A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has certified a judgment delivered by the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division and upheld by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, directing Shebah Exploration and Production Company Ltd, Allenne Ltd and Dr. Ambrosie Bryant Chukwueloka Orjiako, Chairman of Seplat Petroleum to pay African Export-Import Bank, Diamond Bank Plc and Skye Bank Plc, the sum of $144.2 million being the outstanding and accrued interest of a facility granted to the defendants in 2011.
Certifying the UK court judgment, the Federal High Court ordered the defendants to comply with the judgment and denied the defendants permission to appeal it.
The three banks had dragged the defendants to the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division in an effort to recover an outstanding of the facility loan granted to them.
The claimants had applied for a summary judgment against the defendants for sums outstanding under a syndicated loan facility agreement totalling over $144.2m, together with interest on those sums.
They had prayed the court to determine whether it is arguable that, in entering the Facility Agreement, the parties were contracting on the claimants’ written standard terms of business so as to engage section 3 of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1997, UCTA.
The 1st defendant, Shebah Exploration and Production Company Ltd is a Nigerian company engaged in oil exploration and production and the borrower of said loan, while 2nd defendant, Allenne Ltd is the guarantor of the borrowed loan and the 3rd defendant, Dr. Ambrosie Bryant Chukwueloka Orjiako, is the President of Shebah and a personal guarantor of the liabilities of Shebah and Allenne pursuant to a Deed of Guarantee and Indemnity dated July 1, 2011.
In a judgment delivered by Mr. Justice Phillips of the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division on February 19, 2016, the judge stated that Shebah had taken the loan for purpose of discharging certain of its existing borrowing and to provide working capital for its operations, including funding for a work-over programme to stimulate production at oil wells in the Ukpokiti oil field.
According to the judgment, the defendants never denied that the claimants advanced $150 million to Shebah pursuant to the Facility Agreement, nor dispute that, apart from paying one instalment of $6,111,111.11 in June 2012 but Shebah failed to meet any further repayment instalment, despite the claimants agreeing to the deferral of several instalments.