An Abuja High Court sitting in Jabi, has ordered the sale of an hotel, Febson Hotel and Mall, owned by Obat Oil and Petroleum Company Limited, which was founded by Ondo State billionaire and Olugbo of Ugbo Kingdom, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan.
The hotel is located at plot 2425 Herbert Macaulay Way, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
According to the court, the company reneged on its promise to sell the hotel and pay the N5b debt on or before December 31, 2019.
The judge, Hassan Babangida, gave the order in a suit filed by Ecobank.
Ecobank, through an application filed on October 18, 2019, sought the court’s authority to sell the hotel to recover the N5b owed it by Obat Oil, claiming that it had reached an agreement with the company to sell the hotel to offset the debt.
It stated further that the agreement was adopted by a Lagos High Court as a consent judgment delivered on March 15, 2017.
The bank, through its lawyer, Kunle Ogunba ( SAN ), in a letter dated November 16, 2019, informed the bank that it had found a buyer for the hotel and would offset the debt with the proceeds of the sale.
He however said that the company had reneged on its promise to have the hotel sold and pay the N5b debt “on or before December 31, 2019”.
Obat Oil’s lawyer, Olalekan Ojo, while not denying his client’s N5b indebtedness, maintained that Ecobank was no longer the creditor because it had in a letter dated April 5, 2017, allegedly assigned its rights and interests in the case to a third party, ETI Specialised Finance Company Limited.
He said this implied that only ETI Specialised Finance Company Limited could assert any right over the N5b judgment.
In his judgment, the judge held that Ecobank had the locus standi (legal right) to enforce the Lagos State High Court judgment.
He ruled further that there was nothing placed before the court to show that the alleged transfer of the bank’s right in the N5 billion to ETI was complete, though he noted that the bank in its April 5, 2017 letter stated that ETI would act on its behalf, there was however no evidence showing that ETI complied with the condition in the letter requiring it to give the debtor the bank account into which the N5b should be paid.
“The judgment sum has not been paid till today and it was agreed by the parties that the property in question Febson Hotels & Malls, should be sold in satisfaction of the judgment sum,” the judge added.
He therefore ordered, “The court hereby orders the issuance of a writ for the attachment and for sale of the property known as Febson Hotels & Malls and the sum of N5 billion to be realised from the sale should be paid to the applicant.”