Access Bank Plc and the late Ide Ahaba of Asaba, Chief Sonny Odogwu, entered into a N26 billion loan agreement when he was alive. The late businessman wanted to use the facility to build luxury apartments to be known as Le Meridien Grand Towers in highbrow Ikoyi, Lagos. In line with global best practices, the bank demanded for collateral security. Thus Odogwu mortgaged prime properties in Lagos, Abuja, Dubai, and Los Angeles to Access Bank in return for the facility. After the death of the businessman, the mortgaged properties have become a subject of conflict.
Le Meridien Grand Towers, is every real estate investor’s dream! Located at No 31-35, Ikoyi Crescent, Le Meridien Grand Towers is a project driven within a very precise aspiration: to create two towers 15-storeys high comprising a landmark Hotel and a Residential tower in Lagos, Nigeria, thereby becoming an icon in the skyline along the bay.
This complex is expected to provide the most luxurious accommodation in the city.
Both towers have three regiments: a base, a middle portion of the tower and a top. Le Meridien Grand Towers was expected to accommodate 271 suites divided into 5 distinct size categories: the King Suite, the Twin Suite, the Suite, the Diplomatic Suite and Visitors’ Guest Rooms (attached to other suites). Additionally, there are 46 smaller guest rooms forming part of the four Suites flanking the two West wings of the hotel, thereby bringing the number of keys to 317. The VIP floors and services will rival any world-class accommodation, hence positioning Le Meridien Grand Towers Hotel as the foremost accommodation in Lagos.
Trouble started when the estate of the late Chief Odogwu, reacted
angrily to a move by Access Bank to take over the uncompleted property. It went to town with a statement that the property was not part of the consent agreement reached by both parties, and registered as a judgment of Federal High Court, Lagos. The release signed by the estate lawyer, Chief Anthony Idigbe SAN was published by various media platforms on Tuesday.
Reacting to the statement, Access Bank said that the Ikoyi property was not the only one that fell within the purview of the November 3, 2015 Federal High Court judgment that ordered the bank to take over the properties used as collateral in lieu of the N26 billion loan facility. Other properties include Berendo Property located in Los Angeles, State of California, United States of America, Unit No: FN428, The Fairmont Palm Residence (North), Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Asokoro Shopping Mall, Abuja, 1 Happy Home Street, Kirikiri, Lagos, properties located at Kingsway and Lawrence Roads, Ikoyi Lagos.
Access bank also stated further:
“Access Bank Plc (the Bank) is the successor in title to Diamond Bank Plc following its merger with Diamond Bank Plc.
At various times, the former Diamond Bank granted facilities to the Judgment Debtors for the construction of a development to be known as Le Meridien Grand Towers located and lying at 31-35 Ikoyi Crescent, Lagos and registered as No. 17 at page 17 in volume 100 at the Federal Lands Registry, Ikoyi, Lagos. The property is mortgaged to the Bank as collateral for the facilities.
The Bank is a Judgment Creditor for the sum of N26,229,943,035.22 (Twenty Six Billion, Two Hundred and Twenty Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Forty-Three Thousand and Thirty-Five Naira and Twenty Two Kobo) (the Original Judgment Amount) in respect of judgment granted by the Federal High Court, Lagos, Nigeria in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1633/2014 delivered on 3rd November 2015 (the Judgment) against Robert Dyson & Diket Limited & 2 Ors (the Judgment Debtors) in relation to the Project Finance for development of a seven-star hotel and residences (“the Project”).
The Judgment Debtors entered an Appeal against the said judgment and a motion staying the execution of same in APPEAL NO: CA/L/1151/2015 – ROBERT DYSON & DIKET LIMITED & 2 ORS. V. DIAMOND BANK PLC & 3 ORS.
The Judgment Debtors also filed a Counter-Claim against the Bank in the State High Court: SUIT NO: LD/1666CMW/2016 – LEADWAY CAPITAL & TRUSTS LIMITED V. DIAMOND BANK PLC & 2 ORS.
The Judgment Debtors also filed SUIT NO: FHC/L/CS/156/17 – ROBERT DYSON & DIKET LIMITED & 2 ORS. V. DIAMOND BANK PLC which was pending before the Federal High Court.
The Judgment Creditor also filed SUIT NO: FHC/L/CS/1977/2018 -DIAMOND BANK PLC V. KENNETH (KENNY) ODOGWU (Sued as beneficiary and in a representative capacity on behalf of all beneficiaries of the Estate of Late Chief Sonny Odogwu) & 10 Ors.
The extant Judgment of Court for the sum of N26,229,943,035.22 (Twenty- Six Billion, Two Hundred and Twenty-Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Forty- Three Thousand and Thirty-Five Naira and Twenty-Two Kobo) (the “Original Judgment Amount”) affect all the properties and other assets of the Judgment Debtors no matter how described worldwide.
The Parties met and owing to mutual respect and the desire to continue business relationship, decided to settle and resolve all disputes, claims, damages, payments that now, exist between them, and in so doing agreed to compromise the judgment by, among other things, reducing the amount payable by the Judgment Debtors from the Original Judgment Amount of N26,229,943,035.22 (Twenty Six Billion, Two Hundred and Twenty Nine Million, Nine Hundred and Forty Three Thousand and Thirty Five Naira and Twenty Two Kobo) to the total sum of N12, 000, 000, 000 (Twelve Billion Naira) (the “Settlement Amount”) in full and final settlement of the said Judgment and all disputes on the subject matter based on certain conditions. The terms of settlement dated May 30, 2019 and an addendum dated July 26, 2019 were executed and entered into as Consent Judgment (Consent Judgment) on October 11, 2019 in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/156/2017.
Further to the negotiated Settlement Amount, the Judgment Creditor acknowledged the payment of the sum of N1, 000, 000, 000 (One Billion Naira) only already paid by the Judgment Debtors to the Judgment Creditor thereby leaving the sum of N11, 000, 000, 000 (Eleven Billion Naira) as the outstanding sum payable to the Judgment Creditor;
As part of the settlement, the Judgment Creditor was to retain all the properties mortgaged to the Bank until the Judgment Debtors had satisfied the Consent Judgment after which the same was to be released.
KEMEKOD INC., is a corporation organized and existing under Swiss law, and the parent company of BERENDO INC., a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware, United States of America.
BERENDO INC. owns the entire fee simple interest in that certain real property described as Lots 1 and 3 and Portion of that certain 20 Foot Alley Vacated by Ordinance No. 142,145 both of Tract No. 24919, in the City of Los Angeles, in the County of Los Angeles, State of California, as per map recorded in Book 809 Pages 47 and 48 of Maps in the office of the County Recorder of said County belonging to an affiliate of the Judgment Debtors.
The Parties have entered into a Consent and Release Agreement wherein the Judgment Debtors agreed to procure Kemekod and Berendo (herein referred to as “The Sellers”) to sell the property described therein (hereafter referred to as the “Berendo Property”) for the sum of $11,111,111.11 to be paid (60) days from the date of the Settlement Agreement.
The Parties executed the Consent and Release Agreement pursuant to the terms and implementation of the Settlement Agreement. The Consent and Release Agreement was incorporated by reference with the same force and effect as though fully set forth and were interpreted in the light of the Settlement Agreement. In the event of a conflict or inconsistency between the Settlement Agreement and the Consent and Release Agreement, the terms and provisions of the Settlement Agreement were to prevail, in which case the parties agreed to amend the Consent and Release Agreement to comply with the terms of the Settlement Agreement.
In satisfaction of the outstanding Settlement Amount after receipt of the net proceeds of the sale from the Berendo Property under the Consent and Release Agreement by the Bank, the Judgment Debtors and their assigns also agreed to assign such additional properties listed below directly to the Judgment Creditor by way of an agreed asset swap arrangement subject to the terms of this Settlement Agreement.
• Asokoro Shopping Mall and the surrounding lands under a Certificate of Occupancy registered as No 7804 Page 7804 in Volume 40 of the Certificate of Occupancy Register in the Lands Registry Office at Abuja;
• Kingsway road property, Ikoyi;
• 1 Happy Home Street, Kirikiri, Lagos covered by Deed of Lease as No 4 Page 4 in Volume 1782 of the Lands Registry Office at Lagos;
• Unit No: FN428, The Fairmont Palm Residence (North), Dubai, United Arab Emirates;
• Lawrence Road property, Ikoyi.
The Judgment Debtors agreed to assign the totality of their rights, interests, privileges and title in the properties listed in 14, for the purpose of liquidating the outstanding settlement amount by way of asset swap to the Judgment Creditor subject to the terms of the Settlement Agreement.
The Judgment Debtors agreed to provide the Judgment Creditor with all the original documents pertaining to the properties described in 14 above after the execution of the Settlement Agreement and undertook to execute and provide all documents required to perfect the legal interest of the Judgment Creditor in such properties and also perfect the asset swap for the purpose of liquidating the outstanding Settlement Amount with the Judgment Creditor and shall provide such warranties and representations including without limitation, clean, undisputable and unencumbered title with quiet and peaceful possession. All these shall be achieved within seven (7) days from the date on the Settlement Agreement.
The Judgment Creditor agreed to accept the Settlement Amount in cash and or kind to be paid to it both under the Consent and Release Agreement and from the additional properties described in 14 above as full and final settlement of the outstanding Settlement Amount due from the Judgment Debtors subject to the terms of the Settlement Agreement.
The Parties then executed the Consent and Release Agreement simultaneously with the Settlement Agreement.
Upon the passing of sixty (60) days from the date of the settlement agreement, the Defendants failed to facilitate/conclude the sale of the Berendo Property, hence the sum of $11,111,111.11 has not been received by the Bank. However, on March 5, 2021, the Judgement Debtors made a partial payment of the sum of USD8m to the Judgment Creditor leaving a balance of USD3.1m from the Berendo property. Furthermore, the Judgement Debtors have sold the Ikoyi and Lawrence Road properties with a sum of about N2.9billion paid to the Judgment Creditor.
The Judgment Debtors have failed and refused to comply with the Settlement agreement and Consent Judgment. They have refused to pay the sum of US$11,111,111.11 to the Judgment Creditors or assigned the Berendo Property in Los Angeles to the Judgment Creditor. Rather, the Judgment Debtors have compromised the property at Los Angeles without paying the agreed sum to the Judgment Creditor.
Furthermore, the Judgment Debtors have refused to hand over the Dubai property to the Judgment Creditors in line with the Settlement Agreement. The Judgment Debtor has refused to grant vacant possession to the properties at Kirikiri as well as the Dubai property till date in line with the Consent Judgment.
With the breach of the Consent Judgment, the Judgment Creditor has taken steps to realize the property it financed located at Ikoyi Crescent in line with the Original Judgment.
The Judgment Creditors are determined to protect depositors funds and realize the fruits of its judgment by recovering the judgment sum of 26 Billion.”