BY Davidson Iriekpen
The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered Skye Bank Plc to take over Intercontinental Hotel over an alleged debt.
It appointed a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Kunle Ogunba, as the hotel’s receiver-manager in order to preserve its assets.
The hotel, with 361 rooms, is on Plot 244 and 245 (now 52) Kofo Abayomi Street on Victoria Island in Lagos.
Justice Babs Kuewumi ordered Skye Bank Plc to take over and preserve the assets Milan Industries Limited (the defendant), particularly the hotel which is covered by a deed of legal mortgage, pending he hearing and determination of the plaintiff’s motion on notice.
The court also made an interim order granting judicial protection to Ogunba, who was appointed by the bank as the receiver-manager of the hotel by virture of a deed of appointment dated November 11, 2016 in furtherance of the legal mortgage.
Justice Kuewumi granted an interim injunction restraining the defendant and its agents from interfering with or obstructing Ogunba in the course of his performance of his duties as receiver-manager over the defendant’s charged assets and properties.
The judge held: “An order is hereby made restraining the defendant, its agents, servants and/or privies from withdrawing, interfering with, tampering, removing from jurisdiction of this court or otherwise dealing with the defendant’s funds in any bank or financial institution in Nigeria or outside Nigeria in view of the receivership status of the defendant pending the hearing and final determination of the motion on notice filed along herewith.”
The judge ordered all banks and financial institutions as well as other agencies contractually obligated to the Milan Industries to furnish the receiver with details of sums outstanding to the defendant’s credit.
Justice Kuewumi directed the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 2 and the Commandants of the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) or their agents where the defendant’s assets may be situated, to assist the receiver/manager in performing his duties.
“The plaintiff shall file an undertaking to indemnify the defendant should it turn out that this order ought not to have been made,” the judge added.
Skye Bank said it availed Milan Industries with facilities in the sum of $29.8million and N3.8billion for the construction of Intercontinental Hotel.
It also raised an overdraft facility of N500million “to urgently fund payments to contractors and importation of material required for completing the hotel project.”
As security, the defendant executed a deed of legal mortgage in favour of the bank in which it charged it charged the 361-room five star hotel.
“At the expiration f the tenure of the various facilities extended by the plaintiff, the defendant failed and/or neglected to liquidate the various facilities and same continues to accrue interest.
“The facilities availed the defendant have since matured and/or expired and the defendant has failed to liquidate same and failed to comply with various repayment plans of the principal and interest despite several magnanimities extended to it by the plaintiff,” the bank said.
It added it was left with no choice than to appoint a receiver/manager in line with the registered deed of legal mortgage.
“The balance of convenience in the instant suit is in favour of the plaintiff/applicant whose funds are taxpayers’ monies which ought to be accounted back to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),” the bank added.
The case is adjourned to May 17.