Court appoints provisional liquidator for Chicason over debt

Oladimeji Ramon

Access Bank said it inherited the unpaid loan when it acquired the distressed Intercontinental Bank in 2012.

It added, “The respondent has scornfully frustrated all entreaties and/or efforts of Your Petitioner to retrieve its depositor’s funds, thus exposing Your Petitioner again to scrutiny of the Central Bank of Nigeria and possible heavier sanctions as suffered by the legacy, Intercontinental Bank Plc., on which account the legacy bank went under putting into jeopardy innocent depositors’ funds committed to advance the respondent’s business.

The Federal High Court in Lagos has appointed the court’s Chief Registrar as provisional liquidator over the assets and funds of Chicason Nigeria Limited.

The firm had been dragged before the court by Access Bank Plc, which accused it of being “heavily indebted” to it.

In its petition before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, Access Bank is praying the court for a winding-up order against Chicason Nigeria Limited.

The bank claimed that the firm in April 2007 obtained a loan of N1.3bn from the defunct Intercontinental Bank, which later became distressed and was acquired by Access Bank.

According to Access Bank, Chicason Nigeria Limited obtained the loan “for the purchase of blow moulding machines, packaging equipment for vegetable oil, soap, detergent and lubricants production, conveyor systems, tin making and folding equipment amongst other machineries.”

It said, “Having obtained the fund for the advancement of its business and despite the repeated demands by your petitioner, the company failed and variously refused to liquidate the entire huge depositors’ funds that was entrusted to it.”

Access Bank said it inherited the unpaid loan when it acquired the distressed Intercontinental Bank in 2012.

It added, “The respondent has scornfully frustrated all entreaties and/or efforts of Your Petitioner to retrieve its depositor’s funds, thus exposing Your Petitioner again to scrutiny of the Central Bank of Nigeria and possible heavier sanctions as suffered by the legacy, Intercontinental Bank Plc., on which account the legacy bank went under putting into jeopardy innocent depositors’ funds committed to advance the respondent’s business.

“Your Petitioner has exhausted every means within its power to enable the respondent liquidate its admitted indebtedness, but the respondent still failed and/or refused to liquidate its long overdue indebtedness.”

After arguments last Thursday, Justice Oweibo granted Access Bank’s application to appoint a provisional liquidator over the assets and funds of Chicason Nigeria Limited.

Earlier in a December 5, 2019 ruling, the judge had dismissed a motion on notice filed by Chicason Nigeria Limited urging him to discharge an earlier March 15, 2018 preservative interim order granted by Justice Hadiza Shagari of the court in favour of Access Bank.

Justice Shagari had in the preservative interim order restrained Chicason Nigeria Limited from “dissipating, operating and/or withdrawal from or otherwise tampering with the respondent’s funds of the instant winding-up petition in any bank or financial institution… pending the hearing of the application for the appointment of a provisional liquidator statutorily charged to keep and distribute such funds in furtherance of the petition herein.”

But Chicason Nigeria Limited, contending that Access Bank suppressed information to obtain the preservative interim order from Justice Shagari, urged Justice Oweibo, who is now, handling the case to discharge the order.

But in refusing the firm’s prayer, Justice Oweibo held, “There is nothing upon which I should set aside or discharge the preservative interim order of the court.

“The prayers to set aside/discharge the interim orders of made on 15th March 2018 are refused. The application is accordingly dismissed.”

Displeased with Justice Oweibo’s ruling, Chicason Nigeria Limited has gone on appeal and has also filed an application seeking a stay of proceedings.

Justice Oweibo adjourned till June 3, 2020 for further hearing.

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