UBA, Polaris Bank, Energy Firm In Court Over Alleged $6.759m Withhold Fund

Justice Daniel Osiaigor of the Federal High Court in Lagos has  barred an energy firm, Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company Limited and Polaris Bank Plc from tampering with the sum of  $6, 759, 000 USD, in their bank accounts or its equivalent in any currency in 25 banks in Nigeria.

Justice Osiaigor, who gave the Mareva Injunction after listening to an application to that effect filed by United Bank of Africa (UBA) Plc also restrained the Bank and the energy firm from dealing in the said fund through the Debt Management Office (DMO) and Federal Ministry of Finance, pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed against them by the United Bank of Africa (UBA) Plc.

The judge further restrained the third to 26th respondents in the suit or their agents from releasing the sum to the Energy company and Polaris Bank, formerly Skye Bank.

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The court also made an order restraining the Energy company from dealing with any monies standing to its credit in all of its accounts, or any money in which it has any interest held on its behalf with the 27th to 29th Respondents up to $6,759,000 or its equivalent.

The court restrained the second defendant (Polaris Bank) from dealing with any of the monies, instruments, Sovereign Debt Notes, Promissory Notes, Treasury Bills or any other instrument in which it has an interest or standing with the 27th, 28th and 29th Respondents (all Banks in Nigeria), to the tune of $6,759,000 USD or its equivalent.
The Court equally forbade the 27th, 28th and 29th Respondents (CBN, DMO and the Federal Ministry of Finance) from releasing any monies or funds belonging to the 2nd Defendant or wherein the 2nd Defendant has an interest up the $6,759,000 or its equivalent.

The judge further directed the third to 29th Respondents to disclose on oath the total sum of money or funds in their custody belonging to any of the Defendants.

UBA Plc had in the suit marked  FHC/L/CS/714/21, listed Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company Limited and Polaris Bank as first and second respondents. While Access Bank Plc, Citibank Nigeria Limited, the defunct Diamond Bank Plc, Ecobank Nigeria Limited, Enterprise Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, First bank of Nigeria Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc, Globus Bank Limited, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Plc, Jaiz Bank Limited, Keystone Bank Limited, Polaris Bank Limited, Providus Bank Limited, Stanbic IBTC Bank Nigeria Limited, Standard Chartered Bank Limited, Sterling Bank Plc, SunTrust Bank Nigeria Limited, Titan Trust Bank Limited, Union Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Wema Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc, were listed as third to 26th respondents.

While Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Debt Management Office (DMO) and Federal Ministry of Finance were listed as 28th and 29th respondents in the suit.

The plaintiff had averred in its affidavit that the energy firm won the bid to acquire 60 per cent stake of the shares in the Ibadan and Yola Electricity Distribution Companies following the privatisation exercise of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Assets sometime in 2013.

The plaintiff stated that upon receiving a $162, 400, 000 USD Syndicated Loan, the second defendant (formerly Skye Bank Plc), Diamond Bank Plc now Access Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank Ltd, Heritage Bank Plc and Keystone Bank Ltd  (jointly referred to as the lenders), agreed to the appointment of the second defendant as the Facility Agent in respect of the facility to, among others, ensuring the repayment of the loan.

The Plaintiff accordingly disbursed the sum of $35 million to the first defendant to enable it meet the purpose(s) for which it needed the pooled funds.

The plaintiff stated that the energy firm was unable to conclude the transaction on Yola Electricity Distribution Company (Yola Disco), owing to the insurgency in Northeast and it invoked the ‘Force Majeure‘ protection clause enshrined in the Agreements and demanded a refund of the invested sum from the Federal Government. And that sometime in March, 2020, the Federal Government paid the final installments of the refund (recovered sum) to the energy firm and Polaris Bank.

“However, the remaining tranche of the Plaintiff’s share of the said recovered sum has since been withheld by the defendants, particularly the second defendant (Polaris Bank),” UBA told the judge.

Meanwhile, the judge will on July 13 hear UBA Plc’s motion on notice against the energy firm and Polaris Bank.

17th April 2024
Nigerian Pantagraph