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Alleged N9.2bn Debt: NDIC Loses First Round In Case Against Emeka Offor

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…As Court Adjourns Suit Till July 15
BEVERLY HILLS, CA, June 06, (THEWILL) - The bid by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to put on hold funds in 22 banks belonging to the Chairman of Chrome Group, Sir Emeka Offor, over an alleged N9.2 billion owed the African Express Bank in liquidation, failed on Friday.

This is as the presiding judge of a High Court sitting in Abuja, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, who ruled in an ex-parte application filed by NDIC to restrain all commercial banks in the country from making any outward payments, operations or transfers, and further releasing any money to Offor and his companies, ruled that there was no urgency to grant the application since the licence of the African Express Bank had been revoked eight years ago.

The court also adjourned further hearing in the case till July 15 even as it ordered the banks to place the accounts of Chrome Group under observation.

'The applicant failed in its duty to state the steps taken so far to recover the money from the 1st respondent (Ofor). 'In doing justice, the court must also consider the rights of the 1st respondent to arrive at a balance.

'The respondents shall with seven days show cause why the court should not proceed to grant the order sought by the applicant.

'The respondents should also provide the applicant with the information required to assuage its fears.

'The banks where the defendant has his accounts should place a close watch on the accounts of the defendants and report any suspicious transactions to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

'The banks should also be informed that the accounts are subjects of litigation.

'The preservatory order is necessary to preserve the res of the case because by nature they are interventionary measure,' Justice Kolawole stated in his ruling.

The counsel to Emeka Offer had accused NDIC of breaching the terms of agreement reached between the parties involved in the case, saying their client had not defaulted in the repayment deal agreed upon. The lawyers lampooned NDIC, alleging that the Commission was trying to confiscate the properties of their client through the back doors. Listed in the suit as the 1st to 8th respondents are Offor, Chrome Oli Services Limited, Chrome Consortium Nigeria Limited, Choffan Communications Limited, Nimek Investment Limited, Dextron Engineering Limited, Atlantic Engineering Construction Limited and Chrome Energy LLC.

NDIC had, among others, prayed for an interim order of Mareva injunction restraining all the commercial banks in Nigeria to wit; Access Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mainstream Bank Ltd, Keystone Bank ltd, Diamond Bank Plc, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Equitorial Trust Bank Limited, Fidelity Bank Plc, Finbank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, First City Monumental Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Nigeria International Bank Ltd, Skye Bank Nigeria Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Spring Bank Nigeria Plc, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Plc, Unity Bank of Nigeria Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Wema Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc from making any outward payments, operations, transfers (including bills of exchange) releasing or further releasing or dealing in any manner whatsoever with any of all monies or whatever assets due to the 1st to 8 respondents/debtors from any account whatsoever maintained by the respondents.

In the application filed pursuant to section 3(1) (a) and (b) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractice in Banks Act 1990, the NDIC further asked for the following reliefs; 'An order of interim injunction prohibiting and restraining the 1st - 8th respondents either by themselves or their agents, servants, privies or otherwise from disposing, either by way of sale, assignment, or transfer in any manner however of their property whether movable or immovable, whether or not the property is owned or held by themselves or by any other persons on their behalf, including any title or transferable interest in such respondent/debtor in Environmental Remediation Holding Corporation pending the hearing of the motion on notice in this suit.

'An interim order vesting in the court the title of all movable and immovable property of the Respondent/Debtors wherever found, including the 100, 000,000 stocks held any the 8th Respondent/Debtor in Environmental Remediation Holding Corporation and the properties situate and known as No. 22 Lobito Crescent Wuse II Abuja, Plot 230 Idowu Martins Victoria Island, Lagos; Nimek Shopping Complex, Onitsha Main Market for the preservation of the properties pending the hearing of the motion on notice in this suit.

'An interim order compelling the 1st - 8th Respondent/Debtor either by themselves or through their directors or agents to file and serve on the Applicant's counsel within 7 days a separate affidavit each disclosing satisfactory securities either by way of asset or monies within the jurisdiction of this court other than the assets mentioned in paragraph 2 above, which might be used to settle the Applicant's claim in the event of any judgment in this suit against the 1st- 8th Respondent pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice or until the court otherwise directs.

'An interim order of Mareva injunction restraining all Commercial Banks in Nigeria from making any outward payments, operations, transfers (including Bills of Exchange) releasing or further releasing or dealing in any manner whatsoever with any or all monies and/or whatsoever assets due to the 1st -8th Respondent/Debtors from any account whatsoever maintained by the Respondents, their agents, privies, subsidiaries or the like with any of the said Banks wherever situate up to the amount of the applicant's claim as follows: (1) Chrome Oil Services Limited N4,002,867,407.45, (2) Choffan Communication Ltd N4, 771, 220, 825.35 (3) Nimex Investment Ltd N13-, 681, 316.56, (4) Chrome Consortium Ltd N56, 633.41, (5) Dextron Engineering Ltd N239, v145, 510.60, (6) Atlantic Engineering & Construction Company Ltd N125, 824, 906.63 being the amount due and outstanding to African Express Bank (in liquidation) by the 2nd - 7th Respondent as at January 16, 2006 and guaranteed by the 1st, 2nd & 8th Respondents, pending the hearing of the motion on notice on this suit.'