By Akin Kuponiyi
A Federal high court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos Nigeria has restrained Nigerian business mongul, Sir Emeka Offor, and three others who are directors of a limited liability company, KAZTEC ENGINEERING LIMITED, from withdrawing or dealing with any part of the sum of $ 8,5 million or any monies whatsoever, standing to the credit of the company account domiciled with any of eight commercial banks listed before the court.
Other directors affected by the order are, Kester Enwereome, Tochukwu Odukwe , and Monito Barraquias, while a sister company to Kaztec Engineering Limited, Interstate Electrics Limited, and three Ocean going Vessles MV Ekulo Chinyere, MV Ekulo Spirit and MV Ekulo Explorer are also co -defendants in this suit.
The court also issued an order of interim attachment of all payments due from Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria to Kaztec Engineering company in respect of contract for the Trans -Niger pipeline project from Oghale to TP1, pending the provision of satisfactory and sufficient security to secure Unity Bank’s claim in the sum of N6. 1 billion and $133. 1 million together with 21% interest.
The court further directed that Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria and eight commercial banks listed before the court to prepare and file, within seven days an affidavit disclosing the Kaztec company’s balance in their account or any balance standing to the credit of the company and Interstate Electrics Limited company.
The order of the court was sequel to a motion exparte application filed and argued before the court by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister Oluwafemi Atoyebi SAN on behalf of Unity Bank of Nigeria PLC, claiming that the two limited liability companies Kaztec Engineering limited, Interstate Electrics Limited and their four Directors, Sir Emeka Offor, Kester Enwereome, Tochukwu Odukwe and Nonito Barraquias are jointly and severally heavily indebted to Unity Bank Plc in the sum of N6. 1 billion and $133. 1 million, being the total outstanding loan under various facilities granted to them at their request which they have failed to repay despite repeated demands.
According to an affidavit in support of the motion exparte sworn to by the legal officer of Unity Bank Plc Mr Ndubuisi Ugbede and filed before the court by Mr Oluwafemi Atoyebi, the deponent averred that, in June 2014 Unity bank Plc at the request of Kaztec Engineering granted the company a contract facility in the sum of N3.4billion to execute an Addax Petroleum contract for the fabrication and installation of offshore pipeline and topsite for Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. But upon the expiration of the tenor of the loan, the company has refused to repay the loan, the outstanding has now been accumulated to N5. 8 billion.
Prior to the initial loan of N3.4billion granted to the company, Unity Bank Plc on 6th of March, 2012 issued three seperate bank bonds in the sum of N54. 3 million, N33. 1 million and N154. 7 million for the import duties of the company’s three vessels and it was agreed that proceeds from the Addax contract would be used to repay the loan, but the Customs bonds expired in December, 2014. However, the company still refused to pay the loan.
Mr Ugbede averred further that sometimes in 2013, pursuant to the Federal Government’s decision to unbundle the Power Holding Company, it invited bids from members of the public to acquire stake in the company. Kaztec Engineering company resolved to purchase some shares in Enugu Disco through its sister company Interstates Electrics Limited. They were chosen as preferred bidders for 60% of the shares and part of the acquisition condition was paying down 60% of the shares of $126 million. The company was able to source for $24. 5 million. The company then approached the bank to assist in providing the remainder of $101. 5 million.
Consequently by a seperate transaction covered by a Bridge Facility Agreement between the bank and African Export Import bank (AFREXIM), a loan facility in the sum of $70millon was secured from AFREXIM on behalf of the company to meet its financial obligation to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) for the acquisition of the 60% share in Enugu Disco. In addition to. $70million loan, the two companies also requested for and were given $31.5million by the bank.
On the 1st of October 2016, the bank received an order of mareva injunction issued by a Federal high court at the instance of one Pan African Capital freezing the sum N1. 4 billion representing proceeds from the two companies’ operation meant for remittance to AFREXIM by Unity Bank to meet their obligation under the various loan agreements. Consequently the said order prevented the bank from performing its obligations under the said agreement by paying the proceeds to AFREXIM.
From the totality of the various facilities granted to the defendants, the following sums are still outstanding from the defendants to the plaintiff: N5. 6 billio and $113.1 billion as at October, 2016.
Mr Ugbede further averred that on or about 16th August, 2016. Kaztec Engineering Limited was awarded a contract for the provision of engineering and construction services for the Trans -Niger Pipeline from Oghale toTP1 in the sum of N5.3 billion and $50.1 million by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria
By its letter dated 22nd January, 2014 addressed to Unity Bank through which Kaztec Engineering company agreed to domicile the proceeds of the Shell/Kazetc contract with the bank but it later got wind that the company had concluded plans to divert the funds to another bank. The bank then wrote a letter to Shell petroleum, drawing its attention to the agreement with Kaztec company. Consequently, the bank believed that the sum of $8.6 million in the custody of Shell Petroleum is now due for payment to Kaztec company. This sum will go some way to liquidate the defendants’ indebtedness to Unity bank, but is now in imminent danger of being dissipated and removed out of the jurisdiction by the defendants, unless the court restrains the defendants and their agents. If not, the money will be dissipated to the detriment of the bank any time from now
The presiding judge Hadiza Shagari while acceding to the request of the plaintiff ordered them to file an undertaking as to damages to indemnify the defendants against any loss they may suffer if the order is found to be frivolous.
The case has been adjourned till 1st of February, 2017 for hearing.
The author of this story Mr Akin Kuponiyi can be reached at email@example.com