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Federal Court Rules Against First Bank In Assets Dispute

Justice Abdulaziz Anka of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos ruled against the order given by Justice Saliu Saidu stating that First Bank Plc., through its receiver, Mr. Emmanuel Oyebanji, to take over the entire assets of an oil firm Zone 4 Energy.

The judge ruled that Chukelad Nigeria Limited, a third party in trade with Zone 4 Energy, was to evacuate its 2,804,735 liters of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and 1,927,727 liters of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) stored in the tank farm belonging Zone 4 Energy Limited.

In July this year, Justice Saidu had permitted First Bank’s receiver to take over the entire assets of Zone 4 Energy at Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) over an alleged debt owed to the bank.

Justice Anka’s ruling implies that First Bank can only lay claim to the tank farm and not the contents of the tank farm. The bank’s receiver however argued that both the tank farm and the contents are charged assets under dispute.

In an affidavit, Zone 4 Energy said it had a prior agreement with Chukelad Nigeria to use the tank farm to store its AGO and DPK, before Justice Saidu made the order.

Zone 4 Energy said Chukelad Nigeria paid it N7 million to use the tank farm, adding that the bank’s receiver took over the assets while Chukelad Nigeria was loading its trucks at the depot.

Justice Anka ruled in favor of Zone 4 Energy’s lawyer, Mr. Lanre Ogunlesi, that the third party’s goods be evacuated with immediate effect. The applicant by Mr. Ogunlesi said it had “substantial quantity” of Chukelad Nigeria’s products in its storage when the bank’s receiver took over the tank farm.

“In view of the fact that this matter in court might take time to resolve, it would be in the interest of justice to grant this application. The products are susceptible to market forces and if the prices drop, it would be a colossal loss to Chukelad Nigeria and we would be held liable,” Zone 4 Energy prayed.

First Bank's receiver opposed the application. However, Justice Abdulazeez Anka held that, “the application succeeds and the objection is accordingly overruled. The products lying in the tank farm is accordingly ordered to be evacuated in the presence of the registrar monitoring same with immediate effect.”


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