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N58.9billion Loan Dispute: Judge Advise Parties To Reconcile

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Justice Mohammed Liman, of a Federal High Court in Lagos has advised the lawyers to parties in N58.9billion loan dispute between Pan Ocean Oil Corporation Nigeria Limited (POON), its affiliate companies and Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to work through the process of settlement and take interest of parties into consideration.

Justice Liman gave this advise when the parties appears before him and reported that they have not been able to agree on terms of settling out of court.

The judge who noted that the actions of the receiver may affect the fiscal policy of the country stated that It is not for the court to set criteria for parties, on how to resolve the disputes.

Justice Liman therefore adjourned to October 13, for the report of settlement.

The judge however noted that if parties did not settle during vacation, they were at liberty to approach the vacation judge to argue any issue that they considered urgent or important.

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During the proceedings, Lead counsel for the firms, OAR Ogunde (SAN) and his AMCON counterpart, Kunle Ogunba (SAN) told the court of the development at the last hearing.

Mr Ogunde, SAN told the court that he has not gotten any feedback that the matter has been settled and therefore intend to proceed with his motion, adding that the claimant/respondent had not shown any concrete step towards settlement.

He informed the court that the order obtained by AMCON was executed against third parties, who had been sent out of the sealed properties.

“If the claimant can be restricted, then this will encourage us to wait for settlement because they are expensive buildings and can attract thieves if left unoccupied,” he submitted.

Mr Ogunde SAN also stated that the liability of third parties would affect his clients and request for an undertaking that would allow them to regain possession of their respective properties.

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In his response, Mr Ogunba, SAN said that the interest of his client should not be jeopardised in the process.

“The decision with respect to the proposal on a settlement cannot be taken in a day. It needs time. If third parties are aggrieved, they know what to do.

“The defendant has a legion of companies, which they operate. We have put a system in place to attend to affected third parties.

“One of them is Saipem Contracting Nig Ltd, who wants to leave and we have instructed them to write to us,” Ogunba, said.

After listening to both counsel, Justice Liman stated that it was improper to drive tenants out and then begin to listen to them.

“It is a bullet approach which is wrong. Once possession is taken, you serve tenants notice and not to drive them out,” he said, adding that there was no justification for AMCON’s action.

He held that the tenants should be allowed to enjoy their tenancies with the option to retain or renew a tenancy, maintaining that third parties should not be prejudicially affected.

Counsel for one of the tenants, Saipem, Mr Olugbenga Onalaja informed the court that he had written to Ogunba (SAN), seeking to be allowed to go into the property to take out its assets since its tenancy had expired.

The court, therefore, struck out the notice of claim filed by Saipem, saying that it had been overtaken by events.

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The judge also discharged all the banks that filed an affidavit indicating that the firms had no account with them.

However, Ogunde SAN, informed the court that its ex-parte order was harming the defendants.

“Our application is ripe for hearing. All the accounts of defendants have been frozen, even accounts of POON, Beam and Trensix on which the orders of court executed in this suit did not cover.

He further stated that his client’s operations of crude oil was been hampered. That up till that day, the defendants had no access to one dollar as all monies went into an account controlled by AMCON and the banks.

“If things are not managed well, oil and gas production will cease. We have been paying despite being in court. How can we continue to pay when the account has been frozen?

“These issues are mitigating against the settlement. There was no point freezing the accounts. People who should be paid are not paid as a result”, he declared.

Top Court News is a product of a dedicated Journalist, owner of I-Wahab Media The Publisher started his Journalism career with Murhi International TV, MiTV in 2003 before working with Radio Nigeria, Lagos Operation, as a Judicial Correspondent. He is presently the Vice Chairman of the National Association of Judicial Correspondent, NAJUC, Ikeja Branch and occupied same office with Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ, Radio Nigeria Chapel. topcourtnewsng.com is out to serve you with informative and educative News in the Judiciary sector. To put an end to the under reported activities of the sector among the three arms of government

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BUSINESS

Bank Boss, Atuche, Knows Faith Today Over N25.7 Billion Fraud

Bank Boss of the defunct PHB, Francis Atuche, knows faith today over alleged N25.7 Billion Fraud level against him by the EFCC before Ikeja High Court after three years of trial.

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Justice Lateefa Okunnu of a Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja is currently reading judgement in the N25.7 billion fraud suit against former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc Francis Atuche, and his wife Elizabeth.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2011 arraigned Atuche, his wife and the then financial officer of the moribund bank PHB Plc (now Keystone Bank), Mr. Ugo Anyanwu, over the alleged fraud.

After about three years into the trial, Atuche and co-defendants approached Court of Appeal to challenge their trial by the lower court for lack of jurisdiction.

In a judgement delivered in September 2016, the Appellate Court stopped the lower court from going ahead with the trial.

The appellate court also failed to quash the charges against Atuche, his wife and others but ordered Justice Okunnu to hands off the trial.

Read Also: Conman, Emmanuel Nwude Open Defense in Fraud Trial

The appellate court further directed the Chief Judge of Lagos State to re-assign the case to another judge.

Following the decision of the court of appeal, the EFCC approached the Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the lower court and order trial in the matter.

In an unanimous decision, the apex court overturned the decision of the appellate court.

The panel agreed that the lower court’s decisions on the matter was “perverse” and, therefore ought to be set aside.

Justice Ejembi Eko, who prepared and read the lead judgment of the apex court, said the order which the Court of Appeal made on September 23, 2016, for the remittance of case to the Lagos State Chief Judge for the purpose of re-assigning the case to another judge, was not aimed at serving the interest of justice.

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EFCC Charges Banks Compliance Officers on Diligence

EFCC charges Banks Compliance Officers to be diligent in the discharge of their duties and ensure that they play active role in tackling money laundering

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has charged Banks Compliance Officers to be diligent in the discharge of their duties and ensure that they play active role in tackling money laundering and other fraudulent financial practices in the banking sector.

The Zonal Head of the Ilorin Office of the Commission, Usman Muktar, gave this charge on Monday, May 24, 2021 while hosting the Compliance Officers of various Banks in Kwara State.

Mr. Muktar noted that the meeting was aimed at building a better relationship between the Commission and the bank officials in the fight against corruption.

The Zonal Head who appreciated their support to the Commission in the delivery of its mandate, urged Compliance Officers to do more.

Read Also: Unemployed Youth Arraigns Over Defrauding Politician N4.5m

He hinted the Officers about the creation of a Tax Fraud Desk in the Zone.

According to him, the Tax Fraud Desk in conjunction with the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering, SCUML, would greatly ease the problem of company registration currently being faced by people in the zone.

He added that the Section would help in dealing with issues of corruption, tax evasion, illicit financial flows and money laundering within the State.

Also Read: N127m Fraud: How Former Lagos Secretary Theft Fund Using UBA

Usman Muktar explained that the interface became necessary in order to check the rising trend of cases of money laundering involving bank officials.

“There is no major fraud especially money laundering that is ever committed without the connivance of bank officials, and this must stop”, he said.

On the issue of “Know Your Customer” (KYC) and “Know Your Customer’s Business” (KYCB) the Zonal Head tasked the bankers to take the two requirements seriously as it would help to keep fraudulent customers on the radar.

Participants at the meeting assured the EFCC of their support by offering necessary information that could assist it in fighting corruption and other illicit financial transactions.

Source: EFCC

 

 

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IKEDC Loses Suit Challenging Protest Against Outrageous Billings

IKEDC Loses Suit Challenging Protest Against Outrageous Billings

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The National Industrial Court, has dismissed a suit filed by the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company Limited and New Electricity Distribution Company Limited against Incorporated trustees of Citizen Access to Electricity Initiative, for lack of proof.

Other defendants in the suit are Abdulsalam Fashola for himself and as national coordinator of the first defendant, Segun Esan, for himself and as General Secretary of Nigerian Union of Railway Workers and the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC.

Justice Osat Obaseki-Osaghae delivering judgment via virtual proceedings held that the first defendant was not a trade union, but rather a non-governmental organisation and that the first, second and third defendants not being members of a trade union were not subject to the provisions of the Trade Union Act.

On whether or not there was a trade dispute at any particular time between the parties, she held that the claimants had averred that the second defendant posted a letter signed by him on April 16, 2016, of a planned action of picketing the premises of the claimants on April 18, 2016, over outrageous billing and unlawful labour practice.

Obaseki-Osaghae further ruled that from the evidence before the court, the first to third defendants did not involve the fourth defendant, NLC.

“It is my view, in the circumstance cannot be said that the first, second and third defendants were not part of the protest.

“I find from the totality of the evidence adduced that the NLC did not organize the protest and was not part of it”, she added.

In addition, the judge said that the presence of NLC’s flag from photographs during the protest and picketing did not amount to its involvement.

The judge in addition said that from evidence, the gate to the claimants’ premises was locked, the protesters were outside the gate with the presence of the Nigerian Police personnel seen.

The judge hold that the first, second and third defendants in their constituted rights carried out a peaceful protest with the presence of Nigerian Police personnel.

The judge concluded by saying that the three declaratory reliefs sought by the defendants failed.

She also said the fourth relief which was a perpetual restraining order against the defendants or their agents was refused.

The fifth relief which was for specific damages was equally refused as she ruled that the claimants failed to prove that the protesters entered into their premises during the protest.

As for the relief of the cost of the suit, she said it was illegal for a litigant to push the cost of his legal burden on another litigant.

The claimants filed the suit against the defendants on April 20, 2016, seeking for a declaration that the defendants did not follow due procedures before embarking on protest, picket, lock up and prevented access at its premises at Obafemi Awolowo, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos on April 18, 2016.

The claimants also sought for a declaration that the defendants did not have any right to enter its premises and that the picketing and disruption was a wrongful interference.

They, therefore, sought for an order of the court for a perpetual restraining injunction against the defendants, their agents or associates.

In addition, the claimants had prayed for an order of the court directing the defendants to pay the sum of twenty million naira daily from April 18, 2016 till date of judgment.

The electricity distribution companies also prayed for the sum of N150 million for specific damages for the defendant’s interference in the performance of their employees duties and further sought for payment of their legal fees.

Source: News Agency (NAN)

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