Debt Palaver: Court To Rule On Petition Against Bank PHB


A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, South West Nigeria, has adjourned till 27 October this year, ruling on the preliminary objection raised by Bank PHB Plc against the wind up petition filed before the court on behalf of a Lagos businesswoman, Jumoke Ojurongbe.

In the said petition filed by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister Akin Adesomoju, the court was urged to wind up the bank on the grounds of insolvency.

It was alleged that by a letter dated 13 December, 2007, Bank PHB Plc engaged the services of Jumoke Ojurongbe, trading under the name of Deanta Consulting Services, to recover N1.2 billion debt through the sale of a pledged 10.20 hectares of land located at Mayfair Building Society Estate, Lekki, for N1.2 billion or reach a settlement agreement with the debtor for payment of the outstanding loan and commission of 5 per cent to be paid to her upon the performance of either of the above instructions.

After many meetings, the petitioner was able to persuade Dr. Umanah, who is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Imesco Enterprise Limited, the debtor customer of the bank, to pay N1 billion as promised in one of the several meetings.

Thereafter, Mrs. Ojurongbe received a letter from Imesco Enterprises, dated 9 September, 2009 and attached photocopy of a cheque for N1 billion to the effect that N1 billion had been paid to the bank with a warning to the petitioner that no further harassment from the petitioner on the matter would be entertained.

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The petitioner subsequently forwarded her invoices dated 15 September, 2009 to the bank after which she was invited for a meeting and informed that it would not be able to pay her because of financial crisis, but will compensate her with other briefs.

Thereafter, the petitioner wrote series of letters of demand but all to no avail and therefore alleged that it was not in dispute that the debt still existed and due for payment, while the bank has been unable to pay the debt up till now.

The bank, according to the petitioner, is insolvent and unable to pay its debt, therefore, it is equitable that it be wound up in accordance with the provisions of Sections 409(a) and 410(1)(b) of Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990, for its inability to pay its debt.

Bank PHB, in its objection, contended that the debt in issue is disputable and therefore, the petitioner could have filed a debt recovery suit instead of winding up petition.

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