N1.5bn debt: Court orders AMCON to seize SAMOL Limited assets, freezes bank accounts

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A Federal High Court in Lagos has granted an order for Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to take over the assets of SAMOL Limited, a Lagos based company.

The asset seizure was ordered based on the firm’s alleged unpaid debt of N,1,507,414,991.73.

Justice Akintayo Aluko gave the order, sequel to an application in suit number FHC/L/AMC/13/2022 filed before the Court by the law firm of Trevis and Ansel Solicitors.

In the Enrolment Order dated June 8, 2022, Justice Aluko granted the prayers sought by AMCON to take over the following properties,

Property at 9/11, Oleleh Street, Ejigbo, Lagos, with Certificate of Occupancy No 33 Page 33 in volume 1994 C of O land Registry Alausa Lagos.

2. Property at Plot C 126 Royal Garden Estate, Ajah Village in Eti -Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State with a deed of sublease 19 at page 19in volume 2666 at lands registry at Alausa Ikeja Lagos.

The Court also made an interim order restraining the SAMOL company and Samuel Ngozi Oleleh from dealing with or alienating or parting with or transferring their title, howsoever (whether by assignment, lease, mortgage or other third party interest) any of the properties listed in relief listed before the Court pending the hearing and determination of the AMCON substantive debt recovery suit against the defendants.

Besides, the Court made the following orders, “An order freezing all the Bank accounts to which SAMOL company and Samuel Ngozi Oleleh are signatories to in other banks and financial institutions listed before the Court pending the hearing and determination of the Applicant substantive debt recovery suit against the defendants.

“An interim order restraining the 1st Defendant company, SAMOL Ltd, from transferring, dealing with, sell, grant as gifts or in any other manner do anything or take any step(s) that will affect their shares by way of pledge, transfer, sale or any other action prejudicial to the interest of the Applicant.

The Court also granted an order directing the bailiffs of the Court and the officers of the Nigeria Police Force, and officials of AMCON to enter into the properties for the purpose of carrying out and executing the orders of the Court.

The Court also directed the Inspector General of Police and Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of all the zones where the properties of the SAMOL COMPANY are located to deplore police officers to secure and assist AMCON in taking possession of the properties pending the hearing and final determination of the substantive suit against the Defendants.

In an affidavit in support of the application deposed to by Aminu Muhammed Idris, credit officer in the office of the AMCON, he stated that the SAMOL company, on 30th October 2000 and applied for an overdraft facility of N30 million from the defunct Oceanic Bank of Nigeria Plc which would be utilized strictly to fund the purchase of cement from Dangote Industries Limited.

He stated that Sam Olele was to give the personal guarantee of the debtor as security for the loan and that the said loan was to be liquidated in one year by bullet payment.

He added that upon a favourable consideration of the company’s application, Oceanic Bank of Nigeria granted the company’s request.

He stated that by the terms and conditions of the facility’s offer, it was granted for a period of 1 (One) year, which was to be repaid by the Cash flow generated from the Company’s Operations at an interest rate of 22 per cent per annum.

The mode of operation will be that, at the request of SAMOL Ltd, the account is debited for the value of cement required, and Dangote Cement’s Account is credited. After that, Dangote Cement issued an Authority to Collect (ATC) to the Bank; these ATC’s were released to the Debtor’s company on the funding of their account with the Bank.

He stated that the debtor company, by a letter dated 16th February 2001, further applied for an increase in their overdraft facility to N150,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) in order to increase their purchase of cement from Dangote Industries and enjoy discounted prices, which was granted.

He stated that by the terms and conditions of the Offer, the security and/or collateral for the grant of the facility are the ATC’s, Dangote Loading Warrants which are issued to the Bank and execution of personal guarantee forms by Sam Olele.

The deponent further stated that the debtor company, by a letter dated 17th October 2201, further applied for an increase in their overdraft facility to N400,000,000.00 (Four Hundred Million Naira) in order to increase their purchase of cement from Dangote Industries and enjoy discounted prices.

Upon a favourable consideration of the company’s application, Oceanic Bank of Nigeria PLC granted the 1st Defendant’s request to increase their overdraft facility.

“That the Debtor Company on 30th October 2002 and the 29th of June 2004 did apply for an increase in their overdraft in the sum of N200,000,000.00 (Two Hundred Million Naira Only) on the dates mentioned above to increase their purchase of cement from Dangote Industries and enjoy discounted prices and was approved by the bank.

Upon the enactment of the AMCON Act, Oceanic bank transferred the non-performing loans of the defendants to AMCON for recovery.

Upon the acquisition of the debt, AMCON wrote several lawful demand letters to the defendants for the immediate repayment of N843,357,559.75 being the sum due in favour of AMCON, but they did not pay

As of 31st March 2016, the outstanding loan with the accrued interest stood at N1,597,414,991.73.

He stated that several facilities given to the SAMOL company, repayment of the loan became due but were unpaid, and this remained the position till the filing of this suit.

However, in their Notice of Preliminary objection, the defendants, through their counsel, Robert Clarke SAN & Ade Oshodi partners, stated that the genesis of the Suit stems from a disputed debt allegedly owed by the Defendants to the defunct Oceanic Bank Plc, now Eco bank Plc, which is the subject of litigation currently pending before Hon. Justice Abike-Fadipe of the High Court of Lagos State in Suit No: LD/1421/09 and Appeal No. CA/LAG/CV/733/2020.

He stated that by Suit No: LD/1421/09, the defendants/applicants challenged their purported indebtedness to the said Eco Bank Plc.

He submitted that the previous debt is secured by collateral duly accepted and agreed by the parties to Suit No: LD/1421/09, therefore the order of this Court of the 8th day of June 2022 is overreaching as the Honourable Court erroneously and unilaterally extended the collateral to the properties and accounts attached by its orders.

He added, “That the pendency of Suit No: LD/1421/09 before a Lagos Court of co-ordinate jurisdiction and the appellate Court ousts the jurisdiction of this Court to grant injunctive reliefs.

“That the respondent concealed and misrepresented facts in its affidavit in support of its application as the Applicant was well aware of the pendency of Suit No: LD/1421/09.

“That unless and until judgment is delivered in favour of the defendants in Suit be No: LB/1421/09, this Honourable Court lacks jurisdiction over the assets of the defendants/applicants.”

Consequently, the defendants, while urging the Court to set aside and discharge its orders of the 8th of June, 2022, for want of jurisdiction, fraud and misrepresentation of facts, urge the Court to dismiss the suit in its entirety for lack of jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, the presiding Judge, Akintayo Aluko, has adjourned the matter for further hearing.

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