Firm contests alleged missing title document in court with Access bank
A firm, Mcdonald Scientific Emporium Limited (MSEL), a limited liability company engaging in sales and services of scientific and medical materials, safety and laboratory equipment to schools, hospitals, laboratories and food industries, with head office at Plot 152 Raymond Iromaka Close, Festac Town, Lagos has approached a Lagos High Court, sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos to seek approval to recover its alleged missing original Deed of Assignment (Title Document), registered as No. 16 at Page 16 in Volume 2180 of the Land Registry Office of Lagos.
In a suit it brought against Access Bank Plc for the alleged missing title document, it is accusing the bank for negligently misplacing or refusing to return the document even after several attempts were made on it to retrieve the said title document.
The firm, (the claimant), further said that the continued withholding of the document by Access Bank has hindered its access to credit facilities from other banks as it has always enjoyed good patronage of Nigerian banks over the past 15 years to the extent that out of their own free will and volition, marketing officers of the various banks come to its office just to market their banking products (i.e. various kinds of credit facilities) to it and to solicit its patronage for their respective banks.
The claimant averred that from the commencement of its business, it had always financed its business transactions with credit facilities obtained from banks in Nigeria, adding that good examples of the its credit financing, are the Intercontinental Bank Plc term loan which led to present suit as well as the FCMB takeover/stock purchase loan which the Defendant (Access Bank), frustrated and facilities obtained from Zenith Bank Plc in the past.
It is on the strength of this goodwill, the claimant said an offer letter dated 15th September, 2008, by Intercontinental Bank Plc (now Access Bank) approved the extension of a term loan facility to it. As it put it, the offer letter required the security for the loan which included but not limited to a legal mortgage on property located at Plot 152 Raymond Iromaka Close by Festac/Amuwo Odofin Bridge, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos covered by Deed of Assignment registered as No. 16 at Page 16 in Volume 2180 of the Land Registry Office in Lagos. The said property is owned by, and is registered in the name of the Claimant.
Claimant said it accepted the offer and thereafter deposited the original title document with Intercontinental Bank (now Access Bank) being a condition precedent for drawing down the facility.
According to the claimant, in another bid to raise the sum of N64, 944,306.84, it approached First City Monument Bank Ltd (FCMB) to seek a loan facility.
By a letter dated 29th August, 2014, FCMB offered the Claimant a takeover loan facility. By virtue of the takeover loan, FCMB was to lend the Claimant some amount of money for two purposes to wit:
. To finance the replenishment of Claimant’s stock in preparation for the massive annual sales of August and September 2014 and;
. To liquidate the claimant’s total outstanding indebtedness to the defendant as at that date using the claimant’s title deed deposited with the defendant as security for the loan.
Despite the fact that the defendant acknowledged the custody of the document and said in a letter to Mcdonald that it “would be willing to release the original title document with the Deed of Release of mortgage to the bank It has neither responded to same nor has it released the original title documents to FCMB as requested up till date, and all efforts and entreaties made to the defendant to release the original documents to FCMB has since proved abortive.
The claimant stated that due to the defendant’s negligence, failure and/or deliberate refusal to release the said title documents to FCMB, FCMB was constrained to withdraw it’s the said offer letter for loan.
Based on the foregoing complaints, the claimant asked the court to grant it the following relief against the defendant:
A declaration that the Claimant’s original Deed of Assignment dated 13th August 2007 and registered as No. 16 at Page 16 in Volume 2180 of the Lands Registry Office in Lagos in respect of the property located at Plot 152 Raymond Iromaka Close by Festac/Amuwo Bridge, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos (which the Claimant deposited with the Defendant as security for banking facilities granted by Defendant to Claimant) is in the possession of the Defendant.
. A declaration that the Defendant’s failure, refusal and/or negligence to respond to First City Monument Bank’s letter dated 17th November 2014 by confirming to First City Monument Bank that the Claimant’s original title document is in the Defendant’s possession (so as to enable FCMB liquidate Claimant’s N9,409,089.45 debt to Defendant) amounted to negligence and breach of the Defendant’s fiduciary obligation and duty of care to the Claimant.
. An order compelling the Defendant to immediately produce the original Deed of Assignment dated 13th August 2007 and registered as No. 16 at Page 16 in Volume 2180 of the Lands Registry Office in Lagos in respect of the property located at Plot 152 Raymond Iromaka Close by Festac/Amuwo Bridge, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos and hand the said Deed over to the Claimant immediately and
. An order compelling the Defendant to pay special damages to the claimant in the sum of N82, 599,386.92 being loss of income/profit suffered by the Claimant as a result of the Defendant’s failure, refusal and/or negligence to confirm to First City Monument Bank that Claimant’s original Deed of Assignment is in the Defendant’s possession.
In its own averment Access Bank said: “ The said title document registered as No 85 in Volume 77 at Federal Lands Registry in the office at Lagos deposited as security for the loan granted by the bank was returned to the claimant (Mcdonald) with a Deed of Release which was issued in the claimant’s fafour”.
The defendant also claimed that the Deed of Assignment which the claimant seemed to be relying upon as its title to the property which was executed between one Philip Kayode Olusegun Ojo and the claimant does not have any registration details as a Deed of Assignment duly registered as the Lagos State Lands Registry Alausa, Ikeja.
It therefore urged the court to ignore the claimant and strike out the suit for lacking in merit.
The matter is now pending before Justice Ogala of the Lagos High Court Igbosere, Lagos and no date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.
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