$1.5m debt: Court freezes billionaire, Muhammadu Indimi’s Oriental Energy bank accounts
A Federal High Court in Lagos has restrained Oriental Energy Resources Limited owned by billionaire, Alhaji Muhammadu Indimi, from withdrawing, transferring, removing any funds, properties, or assets, outside the jurisdiction of Nigeria or encumbering any funds belonging to or held to the account of the company with the 12 commercial banks except for payments of salaries.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke made the order in an exparte application filed and argued by Mr. Uchechukwu Obi (SAN), on behalf of a limited liability company, Uniterm Nigeria Limited, who alleged that Oriental Energy Resources Nigeria Limited owes it the sum of $1,453,356,76.
The court also restrained Oriental Energy Resource Limited, an oil exploration and production company, either acting alone or in concert with the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, from exporting, transferring or removing from the jurisdiction of the court any asset, crude oil or gas due to the company from Ebok Marginal Field or any other oil block, pending hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
The court also granted an interim order attaching and taking legal possession of all funds, deposits, credit, and receivables belonging to or due to the company with or in the custody of the 12 banks listed before the court.
The banks are, First City Monumental Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc., Ecobank Plc, Fidelity Bank, First Bank Plc, Guarantee Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa, Zenith bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Polaris Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc.
Besides, the court directed all the banks listed, to within seven days from the day of service of the orders file an affidavit disclosing the respective balances, funds, deposits, credit, and receivables, held in or the accounts of the company at the date of the order supported by a certified print out of the statements of accounts covering three months, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
In a 63-paragraph affidavit in support of the application, sworn to by the General Manager, Finance of Uniterm Nigeria Limited Company, Adekunle Okunnowo, it was alleged that Oriental Energy Resources Limited, was desirous of engaging a consortium comprising a local and foreign contractor to provide it with a Rig, specialized drilling unit, local and foreign personnel, and catering services required in the Well Drilling project for Ebok Field located within OML 67.
He averred that Oriental Energy Resources Limited contacted Borr International Operations Incorporated, a company engaged in the business of providing drilling services, and one existing under the laws of Marshall Island and having its registered office at Trust Company Complex, Ajeltake Road, Ajeltake Island, Majuro, Marshall Islands.
He further averred that the petitioner was to provide local personnel and catering and incidental services on the rig location; while Borr was to provide the Rig, drilling unit, and expatriate personnel for the project comprised in the contract.
The petitioner, Borr, and the respondent as separate juristic entities fully aware of their roles, rights, and obligations, entered into a business relationship in May 2021.
According to the deponent, the drilling operations and other contractual services commenced in May 2021 and ended in October 2021.
He stated that the Petitioner had submitted a total number of 61 invoices totalling $2,232,638.67 and N104,120,896.20.
The deponent added that all of these duly issued invoices were sent directly by the Petitioner to the Respondent in accordance with the Ordering and Invoicing process and most of them were allegedly received and honoured by the Respondent.
He stated that the Respondent, however, failed to pay six outstanding invoices all of which amount to the $1,453, 356.76 VAT inclusive.
He stated that sometime in October 2021 the Respondent alleged that Borr supplied Rig that malfunctioned thereby leading to temporary stoppage of work within the period resulting in non-productive time (NPT) and consequential spread cost losses.
In the light of this, the Respondent had sent a letter to Borr on 14th October 2021, informing Borr that they were disputing the service rates on Borr’s specific invoices dated 6th September 15th September 2021 in view of the non-productive time (NPT) and spread cost losses.
The letter was addressed to Borr, which was simply copied to the petitioner.
However, the Respondent never disputed the invoices submitted by the Petitioner for the local personnel supply and catering services rendered by it or queried any aspect of the services rendered by the Petitioner in accordance with the OERL Ordering and Invoicing Process,
He stated that the Respondent struggled throughout the contract tenure to comply with the contractual payment terms of 30 days from final invoices submission dates as agreed, instead payments were mostly delayed and irregular and some remained outstanding till date.
He stated that due to the persistent refusal of the Respondent to make payments to the Petitioner, on the six outstanding invoices, the Petitioner wrote a letter to the Respondent dated 14th March 2022 and 5th April 2022, demanding payment of the outstanding debt of $1,453,356.76 VAT inclusive.
By the terms of the contract, the Petitioner is also entitled to interests on the invoices as provided for in the contract. This is because the 30-day period stipulated in the contract has elapsed since the invoices were raised and submitted.
In his ruling, Justice Aneke granted the restraining order.
The suit has been adjourned till September 26, 2022, for a hearing, and it is expected that the defendants would have filed their defence.