By Onozure Dania
An indigenous oil firm, Pan Ocean Oil Corporation Nigeria Limited and its affiliate companies have asked a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to stay execution of an ex-parte order granted on June 22, in favour of Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, over a disputed loan debt.
Trial judge, Justice Mohammed Liman had in the ex-parte application, by counsel to AMCON, Kunle Ogunba, SAN, authorized its receiver-manager to take interim possession of the assets of the defendants.
The applicants sought to take over several oil mining and oil prospecting licences exemplified by OML 147, 152 and 98 respectively.
It also includes property known as FF Towers, Plot 13/14 Ligali Ayorinde Avenue, Victoria Island, Lagos among several others.
But the defendants in a stay of execution applications asked the court to dismiss the application or in the alternative stay the execution sine die, pending the determination of the originating summons in suit No. FHC/L/CS/552/2020 dated May 11, 2020, which is before the same judge as well as appeal No. CA/LAG/322/2020 before the Court of Appeal, Lagos.
Following the appeal, the firms stated that they have challenged AMCON’s claim and order against them in respect of their alleged indebtedness to AMCON.
“The applicant has a prior claim or suit pending before Justice Liman in suit No. FHC/L/CS/552/2020, wherein the applicant is challenging the right of the applicant to the debt it is seeking to enforce or recover by the application herein challenged. The applicant also has an appeal No. CA/LAG/322/2020, which has been entered at the Court of Appeal, Lagos, in respect of the same debt, which is the subject of this suit.
“The rules of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 abhors multiplicity of suits. The AMCON Proceeding Rules 2018 specifically seeks to avoid multiplicity of suits. The multiplicity of suits is an abuse of court process and abuse of court process and robs the court of jurisdiction,” counsel to Pan Ocean, led by Oluwemimo Ogunde(SAN), and Taiwo Shittu stated.
In its 19-paragraph affidavit, sworn to by one Olufumilayo Oso on behalf of the defendant/applicant, the firms averred that along with four other plaintiffs, it filed a suit against AMCON and five other banks seeking declaratory reliefs and an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the defendants from unjustly taking over the assets of the defendant/applicant until they are in law adjudged incapable of paying the debts ascertained to be due and payable to the respondents.
According to the deponent, part of the grounds of the suit are that some of the debts of which repayments were demanded had been restructured with payments not due till June 2020;
The lenders in the syndicated part of the loan did not assign their own bit of the syndication to the respondent and that the lead lender in the syndication agreement was not given power or right to assign on behalf of co-lenders.