Justice Saliu Saidu of a Lagos Federal High Court, on Monday ordered Sterling Bank Plc, against giving Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, representing Ekiti Central Senatorial district of Ekiti, pending the determination of debt recovery suit brought against him by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
AMCON had sometimes in 2018, dragged Bamidele, an All Progressive Congress (APC) senator, before the court, due to his failure to liquidate loan sum of N201 million which had increased to N511. 3 million, obtained from the defunct Oceanic Bank Plc and bought over by it.
In the debt recovery suit, AMCON in its statement of claimed in suit number FHC/L/CS/588/2018, filed before the Court, through its lawyer stated that upon request by the Senator, the defunct Oceanic Bank International Plc through a document headed ‘offer of margin facility’, granted the Senator and overdraft of N210 million on October 10, 2007, at the interest rate of 18 percent par annum, for the purpose of buying shares, and the tenor was 12 months.
AMCON stated upon maturity of the loan facility, the Ekiti born Senator, refused, failed and neglected to liquidate the loan leading to the accumulation of interest over times of interest and that as at January 1, 2011, the principal facility and interest stood at N307, 779, 998.80 million.
AMCON further averred that due to continuous accumulation of interest, the defendant’s indebtedness to it as at November, 2017, stood at N478, 170,566.62 million. While adding it instructed its counsel, Godwin N. Chigbu, to write the Senator a demand letter through the addresses he provided with the bank.
It stated that despite several demand letters been delivered to the defendant, he still refused and neglected to pay the demanded sum. Adding that as at March 31, 2018, the Senator’s debt stood at the sum of N511, 311, 895. 80 million.
Due to the alleged failure of the Senator to pay back the indebtedness, AMCON consequently, asked the Court for an order directing MOB to pay it the sum of N511. 311, 895. 62 million being the debt owed since March 31, 2018.
It also asked the court for a court order directing the Senator to pay interest on the claimed sum accessed at 15 percent par annum from April 1, 2018, till the date of judgment. And an order directing the defendant to pay 15 percent par annum from the date of judgment until the judgment is fully liquidated.
However, in Senator Bamidele in his statement of defence and counterclaimed filed before the court by one of his counsel, Precious Orotma (Miss) said the alleged debt arose because of banker-customer relationship between him and the defunct Oceanic Bank. Adding that the bank sometimes in 2007, through its team of investment bankers and asset managers approached and invited him to partner with bank for the purchase of stocks and shares.
He also states that the Bank and its subsidiary company now explained to him that the Bank would provide the s m of N210 million, inform of margin facility while the Defendant would provide an equity contribution of 30% plus security in the sum of N90 million, worth of shares and cash. Adding that the bank told him that his contribution would be merged with that of the Bank to finance the purchase of shares and stocks in which the purchased shares would remain in the custody of the Bank which shall also manage the investments through its asset management, this known as Oceanic Capital Limited and Oceanic Asset Management (OAM).
The senator also stated that as a result of his request, an offer of margin facility was made to him on October 15, 2007, to the tune of N210 million, on the fulfillment of certain conditions. Adding that Oceanic Bank did not take reasonable care in ensuring the performance of the contract and observe compliance with all terms and conditions of their agreement in relations to the transaction, as it failed to monitor the stock market, advise the him accordingly and appropriately sell down as it was obliged by the margin facility agreement.
He averred further that while the value of the shares continued on a steady decline, the Bank and its subsidiaries utterly left him in the dark regarding the value of the share portfolio in spite of repeated demands for information from the Bank. He adds that the defunct Oceanic Bank Nigeria Plc, fraudulently induced him into the margin facility agreement as it misrepresented, concealed and or suppressed fundamental facts as to its requisite knowledge, skills and expertise in managing the investment in a win-win situation while offering the products to him. Consequently the breach of the margin trading facility agreement, fraudulent misrepresentations and mismanagement of the Defendant’s account by the Bank occasioned huge losses to him.
The Ekiti State Senator also states that the Oceanic Bank International Plc. through-out the period of year 2007 up to the time it was acquired by Eco bank Plc, did not approach him for the repayment of the marginal facility, because it knew that they we were joint investors and that he did not take and could not have taken a single Kobo out of the Bank as it was not like a conventional loan facility where a Borrower could withdraw or draw down from the account.
He stated that while waiting for the meeting to explore amicable resolution of the issues surrounding he mismanaged margin facility as promised by the Claimant’s Counsel, the Claimant’s Counsel sneaked into this Honourable Court to file a frivolous Suit against him with an ulterior motive to confiscate his fund and properties and with a view to ultimately blackmailing, harassing and forcing him into negotiation.
He consequently asked for a declaration that Eco Bank of Nigeria Plc, was in breach of the margin facility agreement dated October 10, 2007, as a result of its failure to use its professional skills a d expertise to property disburse, invest, manage, control and create the margin facility which occasioned huge losses to him.
He also asked the court for an order for the payment of a sum 0 N464, 146, 864.69 million, representing the 30precent equity contribution a d the compound interest of 4 years between 2007-2011 and compound interest of 7 years between 2012 to March 1, 2018. And an order directing Eco Bank of Nigeria Plc to pay interest claimed sum at the rate of 15 percent per annum from April 1, 2018, until the date of the judgment in this suit.
He further asked for an order directing Eco Bank of Nigeria Plc, to pay post-judgment interest at the rate of 10percent until judgment is liquidated.
However, midway to the trial of the matter, the Senator approached the Lagos division Court of Appeal, to overturn Justice Saidu’s exparte order which freezed all his accounts. But the justices of the court of Appeal, turned down his request.
At the resumed trial of the matter today, counsel to the Sterling Bank Plc, Aisha Nnaji, told the court that Senator Bamidele is having some money with her bank (amount not disclosed).
Following the revelation made by the Sterling Bank’s counsel, Mr. Kingsley O. Nwachukwu, counsel to AMCON, asked the court to ordered the bank not to pay any funds to the Senator until the determination of the debt recovery suit against him.
Bamidele’s counsel, Mr. Bashiru Popoola, did not opposed the application. Consequently, Justice Saidu ordered Sterling Bank not to pay any funds to the Senator until the determination of the matter.
Justice Saidu while adjourned the matter till March 3, for further hearing, however informed the parties that the case file will be return to Administrative Judge, for reassignment to another judge, as he due for retirement before the adjourned date.