Bank accuses DMO of sabotage over debt recovery
NIGERIA’S commercial bank, Ecobank Nigeria Limited has alleged before a Federal High Court, Lagos that the Director General of the Debt Management Office, (DMO), Mr. Abraham Nwankwo is frustrating its move to recover a huge debt allegedly owed it by an oil marketing firm, First Deepwater Discovery Limited.
Counsel to the bank, Mr. Kunle Ogunba (SAN), who appeared in the court on behalf of his clients asked the court to imprison Nwankwo over alleged disobedience and contempt of court.
The bank also sued the DMO’s officer directly in charge of processing fuel subsidy claims by oil marketers, Mr. Umaru Abubakar, for contempt of court.
The DMO is the agency of the Federal Government which processes fuel subsidy claims by oil marketers or issuing them with what is called sovereign debt notes.
According to court papers, Ecobank had on February 25, 2015, secured an interim order of Justice Mohammed Yunusa, directing DMO to transfer the outstanding fuel subsidy sum due to Deepwater Discovery Limited into the company’s account with Ecobank.
The bank had claimed that Deepwater Discovery Limited had a cumulative fuel subsidy claim of about N1.8bn with DMO, out of which it claimed that N845m plus was due for payment.
Yunusa had in the said order directed DMO to transfer with dispatch the sum of N845m plus due to Deepwater into its account with Ecobank to offset part of the alleged debt the oil marketing firm allegedly owed the bank.
The judge had also directed the DMO to “communicate the PEF/Admin Charges on the balance sum of N1,020, 451,733.22 to the applicant through the receiver/manager and to pay forthwith, remit or otherwise transfer the entire sum to the first defendant’s account with the plaintiff/applicant.”
But Ogunba claimed that though the agency, through its principal officers, were served with the enroled order of the court since February 27, 2015, they had yet to take the necessary steps to transfer the said funds, thereby frustrating the bank’s effort at recovering its customers’ savings allegedly held by Deepwater.
In the affidavit filed in support of Forms 48 and 49, which Ogunba said were already served on Nwankwo and Abubakar, the deponent, one Ajibola Ajiboye, alleged that in spite of serving the alleged contemnors with the papers for contempt proceedings they had refused to buldge.
While urging Yunusa to take a decisive action and commit Nwankwo and Abubakar to jail, Ajiboye said: “Contempt of court, being a deliberate disobedience of a court order, is a serious offence, which every court should not allow to go unpunished; this is because treating such an act with levity could lead to total destruction of the entire judicial system and all that the administration of justice stands for.”