Court Adjourns Ecobank’s Suit against Honeywell Group to June 29

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Akinwale Akintunde

Justice Maureen Onyetenu of the Federal High Court in Lagos, yesterday adjourned further proceedings till June 29, in the bankruptcy suit filed by Ecobank Nigeria Limited to recover an alleged debt of N4.1 billion from the Chairman of Honeywell Group, Dr. Oba Otudeko. Justice Onyetenu further adjourned the case yesterday at the instance of the two parties.

Ecobank’s lawyer, A.O. Divine, urged the judge to adjourn the case to await the outcome of interlocutory appeals emanating from the case. He reminded the judge that the matter was previously adjourned till yesterday, in the hope that the Court of Appeal would have decided the appeals.

He said since the appellate court had yet to rule, the court should further adjourn the case. Otudeko’s counsel, Faith Adarighofua, aligned herself with Divine’s prayer for an adjournment. On the consent of the two lawyers, Justice Onyetenu adjourned the 2015 matter till June 29, 2020.

In the suit, Ecobank claimed that Otudeko was indebted to it following the alleged failure of its three firms – Honeywell Flour Mills Plc; Siloam Global Services Limited; and Anchorage Leisures Limited – to liquidate a loan granted them by the bank. The bank claimed that Otudeko personally guaranteed the loan obtained by its firms.

It is therefore seeking, “a receiving order against estate, funds, investment, shares or other interest of the debtor principally in Siloam Global Services Limited and in Honeywell Group Limited; Honeywell Flour Mills Plc; Anchorage Leisures Limited; Honeywell Oil and Gas Limited; Uraja Real Estate Limited; Broadview Engineering Limited; Uraja Power Solutions Limited; Honeywell Energy Resources Limited; Hudson Power Limited; Pivot Engineering Limited and Pavillion Technology Limited, which interest is held either directly or through the said Siloam Global Services Limited and/or in any other company within and outside Nigeria.”

The bank also prayed the court to grant it leave to, “appropriate or otherwise utilise the investments, shares or other interests of the debtor (Otudeko) in all the companies listed above and in any other company/corporate entity in Nigeria or outside Nigeria in partial or full satisfaction of the debt due.”

Ecobank prayed the court to command the businessman to immediately avail the bank his “statement of affairs, statement of net worth and other credible financial details requisite and in furtherance to the Bankruptcy Act.”
But Otudeko filed a preliminary objection, urging the court to either dismiss/strike out the suit or stay proceedings, “in deference to arbitration.”

He described the suit as an abuse of court processes, contending that it was filed in gross violation of Section 7(1)(a) of the Bankruptcy (Proceedings) Rules Cap B2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010.