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UBA Vs Sahara Energy: Court To Rule On Application Seeking To Discharge Ex-parte Order Tomorrow

By Francis Iwuchukwu, Lagos 

Justice Mohammed Liman of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, has been asked by the United Bank for Africa (UBA) to dismiss a motion instituted by a Petroleum resources firm, Sahara Energy Limited, seeking a discharge of an ex-parte order allowing the bank to advertise a petition it filed to wind-up the firm over alleged N15 billion debt. 

It would be recalled that the financial institution is currently engaged in a legal war with the oil firm over a N15 billion debt owed by KEPCO Energy Resources Limited (KEPCO).

Interestingly, Sahara Energy was said to have stood as a guarantor to KEPCO to obtain the said loan.

Prior to this time, Justice Liman had on April 21, 2019, granted UBA’s ex-parte application seeking to advertise the petition to wind-up Sahara Energy over the alleged debt. 

But when the matter came up in court, Sahara Energy through its lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) drew the attention of Justice Liman to a motion he filed on behalf of his client to vacate the order. 

The SAN argued that the ex-parte order is expected to have lapsed at the expiration of the period allowed by the court's rule. 

Reacting, counsel to the new generation bank, Temilolu Adamolekun, insisted that the rule of court is not applicable in the instant case. 

Adamolekun insisted that the order was just a condition precedent to the hearing of the petition and was not targeted at anyone.

He further intimated the judge that granting the Sahara Energy's request would prevent the bank from advertising the petition thereby shutting out other interested parties. 

The matter has been adjourned till May 24, 2019 for ruling.

Meanwhile, before the commencement of arguments on the ex-parte motion, Olanipekun (SAN) had withdrawn another motion filed by him asking the judge to recuse himself from the case.

In a bench ruling, Justice Liman held that no other motion will be heard until the motion asking him to withdraw from the case is determined. 

In an affidavit in support of the petition, UBA disclosed that it granted KEPCO a loan to the tune of $35 million in August 2013, to fund the acquisition of Egbin Power Plant, which Sahara Energy guaranteed. 

The financial institution further argued that KEPCO subsequently failed to meet its obligations even after restructuring the loan on two different occasions.

The interest on the rescheduled debt is said to have increased the facility to $42,282,430.49 or N15,221,674,976.40 as of December 31, 2018.

UBA added that Sahara Energy was notified several times to fulfill its obligation as a guarantor but had not done so, hence the need to file a winding up suit. 

“The company herein is insolvent and unable to pay its debt. 

“In the circumstances, it is just and equitable that the company should be wound up,” the petition reads.

The petitioner also sought, “an order that the company, Sahara Energy  Resources Ltd, be wound up by the court under the provisions of Companies and Allied Matters Act.”

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