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Court hears suit challenging takeover of WhitePlains School today


Federal high court, Abuja

A vacation judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed today for hearing on the suit challenging alleged moves by First Bank Plc to take over WhitePlains British School Limited.
The Judge gave the date last Friday after listening to arguments by counsel representing the school, Chukwu Machukwu-Ume (SAN) as well as counsel to the bank and the appointed receiver, Bola Olotu.
Recall that First Bank PLC sealed the school premises since June over a N619 million loan.
The action followed an earlier judgment by another Federal High Court in a suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/1023/2015, which granted it access to the school property.
However, the school has returned to court, challenging the tripartite legal mortgage tendered and relied on by the bank to perpetuate the action, and which the respondent alleged, was forged.
Machukwu-Ume told the court that the school had agreed on a sharing formula from the proceeds of the school fees with the First Bank PLC for the repayment of the loan, and wondered at the desperation to take over the school with the alleged forged tripartite legal agreement.
Following the school’s criminal complaint to the police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the lawyer who allegedly filed the forged Tripartite Agreement to the Corporate Affairs Commission, Chuks Dibiaezue was arrested last Friday by the FCT Command of the Nigeria Police.
The First Bank PLC, according to the school, produced the Tripartite Mortgage Agreement at its Shippers House offices on January 27, 2014 between it, White Plains British School Ltd, and former owner of the school’s land, France Lee Nigeria Limited.
Under the purported mortgage agreement, the First Bank PLC could at a short notice acquire and take over the school property located at Plot 528, Cadastral Zone B4, Jabi, FCT.

The school with six buildings of four floors each comprising both secondary and high school is estimated at N6 billion.
It was also alleged that the bank used the said forged agreement to obtain an order of a Federal High Court in suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/1023/2015, which granted it access to the school property.
The school claimed that when the attention of the two directors of the school, Dr Francis Chukwuma Nwufoh and his wife, Doris Adaora Nwufoh as well as the two directors of France-Lee Nigeria Ltd, which sold the land to the school in 2008, Francis Charity Ibe and his son, Emeka Prince Kelechi, were drawn to the documents, they all denied knowledge of the agreement or affixing their signature on the document.

Also, the Notary Public, Godwin Imakhai, before whom the directors were purported to have deposed to two affidavits dated October 25, 2013 endorsing the said Tripartite Agreement, denied the document.


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