Obat Oil proposes settlement with Skye Bank over N21b debt

By Abimbola Fashakin, Lagos

The management of a firm, Obat Oil and Petroleum Limited has proposed an out of court settlement with Skye Bank Plc over an alleged N1.4billion debt owed the bank.

The bank, in a suit pending before Justice Jude Dagat of the Federal High Court in Lagos, is seeking the enforcement of an arbitral award dated August 7, 2015 awarded it in its bid to recover a loan debt N2,142,462,572.26 owed it by Obat Oil and Petroleum.

The loan was guaranteed by Oba (Dr.) Frederick Eniti Akinruntan who is a major promoter of the company.

The bank further sought to recover 15 per cent interest on the amount from April 2014 till the liquidation of the debt.

Counsel to the company, Mr Olalekan Ojo, moved a motion to regularise his processes, which was granted, saying parties have met on several occasions with a view to settling out of court.

“I most respectfully apply for a short adjournment to enable the parties effectively agree on the repayment terms. They have been customers for years,” he said.

The bank’s lawyer, Mr Sylva Ogwemoh (SAN), confirmed that meetings had been held, but that no offer had been made.

The Senior Advocate said: “No payment terms have been proposed to us. My hands are tied and my clients are eager. What’s in issue is depositors’ funds. If there’s a display of good faith, why not?”
Ogwemoh said a meeting was held on November 14, but that Obat Oil did not improve on its initial offer of N100million part payment.

“They owe N1.4billion and their offer is not even up to half a billion Naira. Nothing reasonable has been put on the table,” Ogwemoh added.

But, Ojo promised that his client would “take this issue of amicable settlement seriously”.
Justice Dagat encouraged the parties to settle out of court.

“We always encourage settlement. I’ll give a short date for parties to explore settlement,” he said.

The case was first taken before an arbitrator, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), who awarded N1,406,944,352.76 to the claimant, which he said represents the amount the respondents admitted as being the outstanding balance as at March 31, 2014.

Aare Babalola also awarded 10 per cent interest annually on the N1.4billion from the April 1l, 2014, till final liquidation of the amount.

The bank, however, alleged that Obat Oil and Dr Akinruntan failed to comply with the Arbitration Award. It applied to the court to order the award’s enforcement, which was granted.
Justice Dagat adjourned till January 13 for report of settlement or hearing of pending applications.

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