By Innocent Anaba
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Friday, granted a Mareva Order restraining the Debt Management Office, DMO, from paying Vine Oil & Gas Ltd and a businessman, Ben Chukwujama, N628million standing to the credit at a bank.
Trial judge, Justice Saliu Saidu made the order following an application by D. Awosika, SAN, for the Bank.
Vine Oil & Gas, Chukwujama, and DMO are the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd defendants/respondents in the suit.
Awosika had told the judge that the bank has a pending action to recover N3,550.933.501 which liability arose from the grant of several trading facilities and funding of letters of credit for the importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and other Petroleum Support Trust fund (PSP) Scheme, which Vine Oil & Gas had failed to liquidate despite several demand notices.
He said the 1st and 2nd defendants were poised to obtain and dissipate the Promissory Note (PN) sum of N628million now in the custody of the DMO which is to be paid to them as Excess Bank interest and Foreign Exchange Differential under the defunct PSFS and prayed that they are prevented from accessing the money until the determination of the substantive suit before the court.
According to him, Vine Oil & Gas is about to divert the outstanding Promissory Notes to paying some Creditors.
Granting the prayers, the judge held: “The plaintiff (the Bank) has shown that the 1st and 2nd defendants have been taking advantage of the Funds/Promissory Notes in the 3rd defendant’s custody to deplete same and in satisfaction of their debts to other Financial institutions.
“These depositions were not challenged by the 1st and 2nd defendants by way of an affidavit or documentary evidence. Failure to counter an allegation made by an adverse party in an affidavit amounts to the fact being deemed established.
“The Mareva Orders prayed by the plaintiff is merely to secure or preserve the res, which is the sum of N628.000.000 in the custody of the 3rd defendants. I, therefore, grant as follows:
“The 3rd defendant whether by itself, its agents…are restrained from paying the 1st and 2nd defendants/respondents the N628million or any sum standing to the credit of the 1st defendant/respondent as Excess Bank Interest and Foreign Exchange Differentials to be paid as Promissory Notes (PNs) or however described for the Defendant/Respondent’s outstanding payment pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
“The 1st and 2nd defendants are restrained from approaching or applying to the 3rd defendant/respondent to be paid the N628million or any sum outstanding to the credit of the 1st the defendant/respondent as “Excess Bank Interest” and “Foreign Exchange Differentials or however described…for the 1st defendant/respondent’s outstanding payment under the defunct Petroleum Support Fund Scheme (PSFS) pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”
“The 3rd defendant/respondent is directed to release the Promissory Notes issued in the name of the 1st defendant in the sum of N628million to the plaintiff/applicant to enable the plaintiff/applicant process and dematerialize the said Promissory Notes with Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and that the proceeds arising therefrom be deposited into the defendant account with the plaintiff/applicant.”