Story By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos today refused an oral application by an oil drilling firm, Seplat Petroleum Development Company, seeking access to its accounts and offices which were under lock by court order.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa declined the application following opposition by Access Bank through its counsel, Mr Kunle Ogunba, SAN.
Access Bank, who is the plaintiff/respondent in the suit, had recently secured an ex-parte order from the court which shutting Seplat’s premises and also frozen its accounts in Nigeria and abroad, consequent upon an outstanding loan of about $85.8billion.
The court granted the interim preservative reliefs to preserve the res, pending the hearing and final determination of the motion on notice filed in the suit.
Seplat, Cardinal Drilling Services Limited, Mr. Orjiako Ambrosie Bryant and Kalu Nwosu are the defendants/applicants in the suit.Upon being served with the order of court, the first defendant Seplat filed an application dated 3 December 3,:2020 seeking to discharge the orders.
The court heard the applications last Thursday, in a proceeding that took more than five hours. It also heard the Plaintiff/Applicant’s application for Interlocutory injunction
While awaiting the court’s ruling on the applications, Seplat filed another application dated 12 December 12, 2020, seeking to discharge the same interim order.
However, the application was challenged by Ogunba, who described it as “bizarre, unknown to our laws
At today’s proceedings, Counsel to SEPLAT Petroleum, Mr Abubakar Mamood, SAN, prayed the court to grant his client access to their offices and it’s accounts that were frozen pursuant to the order of court.
Mamood, SAN, averred that Seplat had pledged a bond of $20 million dollars as security, but Ogunba opposed the application . He told Justice Aikawa not to fall for the temptation thrown to it “by the debtor” who, according to him, owed over $85.8b which was enough to float two banks successfully in Nigeria.
He contended that in view of the arguments taken last week and ruling reserved, no order can be made before the ruling is delivered in order not to pre-empt the outcome of the ruling.
Ogunba also prayed the court to refuse the application on the ground that it was not brought properly before the court, adding that the rules of court were meant to be obeyed with respect to making an application which must be filed formally.
Ruling on the application, Justice Aikawa declined the application and upheld Ogunba’s opposition to it, adding that the ruling on the application earlier argued last week would be delivered on December 24, 2020.
Seplat’s Assets affected by the order include; 25, Lugard Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos, 6, Agodogba Avenue, Parkview, Ikoyi, Lagos and also number 11, Oba Adeyinika Oyekan Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.