By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
A Federal High Court in Lagos last Friday struck out a suit by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) for the winding up of Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited.
The court, presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris, struck out the suit on the grounds that it was premature and also sought to circumvent existing suits in different courts on issues relating to the alleged indebtedness of Capital Oil and Gas that is currently under dispute.
The court consequently struck out AMCON’s petition for the freezing of Capital Oil and Gas’ accounts and winding up of the company for alleged inability to pay the disputed debt.
In the ruling delivered Friday, May 6, 2016 in Suit No. FHC/L/CP/506/2016, the judge upheld the contention of Capital Oil and Gas’ counsel, Ajibola Oluyede, represented by Michael Damiari, that the winding up proceedings filed by AMCON against Capital Oil and Gas were intended to circumvent the existing actions in suits FHC/ABJ/CS/430/15; FHC/ABJ/CS/514/15 and FHC/L/CS/1529/15 wherein live issues pertaining to the consent judgment in FHC/ABJ/CS/714/2012 which is the subject matter of the winding up petition are pending in.
The judge said: “Until the issues raised in those suits are determined, it would be premature to say the judgment debt has crystalised as provided in clause 2.4 of the consent judgment.”
Capital Oil and Gas had, in its Respondent’s counter affidavit of 91 paragraphs deposed to by Nsikan Usoro in opposition to AMCON’s petition, contended that AMCON grossly violated the terms of the consent judgment entered into between the two parties.
It was argued that AMCON failed, refused and/or neglected to inject the requisite funds into Capital Oil and Gas as agreed and contained in the terms of the consent judgment despite Capital Oil and Gas fulfilling all its obligations of transferring assets valued at over N150 billion to AMCON.
It was further contended that Capital Oil and Gas which was a going concern and also a company of strategic national importance responsible for a great percentage of petroleum products distributed nationwide was not insolvent, not indebted to AMCON, neither was it unable to pay its debt as the company had assets worth over N300 billion, far in excess of any alleged debt to AMCON or any other creditor.
It was equally averred that AMCON was indebted to Capital Oil and Gas to the tune of over N150 billion, arising from economic losses and damages inflicted on Capital Oil and Gas by AMCON, through the gross mismanagement of Capital Oil and Gas’ prime facilities and business interests during the two years of AMCON’s ill management of Capital Oil and Gas, which is the subject matter of suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/430/2015 and in other various claims pending before different courts.
The court agreed with the argument of Capital Oil and Gas in its preliminary objection and struck out the petition. The court also set aside all the interim orders made by the court therein.