Court grants firm leave to withdraw discharge application
A Federal High Court, Lagos has consented to withdrawal of a motion dated 2nd of July 2020 made by Pan Ocean Oil Corporation Nigeria Limited (POON) and its affiliates against orders made against it in favour of Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) on July 1, 2020.
Mr. Justice Mohammed Liman gave the consent, following the application of the firm’s lead counsel, O.A.R Ogunde (SAN), who told the court that they are withdrawing the application filed to discharge all the orders but intend to argue a second one dated 13th of July, 2020, which is more comprehensive.
But Counsel to AMCON, Mr. Kunle Ogunba (SAN) had opposed the application, saying the application cannot be withdrawn. However, the court disagreed with him. Consequently, Mr. Ogunba (SAN) asked the court to put him on record as opposing the application.
Mr. Ogunde (SAN) also informed the court that he would not move the second application involving the firm, Everest in suit No.722/2020 immediately. This, he said is because he only became aware after Mr. Ogunba’s response to his application on July 14, 2020 that a Notice of Discontinuance had been filed since June 11, 2020 in all AMCON earlier cases, but not served on him.
He therefore insisted that it was important to address the unlawfulness of those withdrawals before moving the application in respect of Everest. Justice Liman initially disagreed by saying that the provisions of sections 49 and 50 of AMCON Act stated that the orders obtained in those earlier cases would lapse after 15 days if no steps were taken, adding that the filing of the Notice of Discontinuance was just a surplusage.
But Ogunde (SAN) informed the court of the provisions of the amended AMCON Act, specifically section 49, which provides that such orders are not discharged automatically and the court agreed.
“If the orders earlier obtained under suit Numbers 427, 429, 431 and 438 were not expressly discharged by the court (because it is not doable by mere Notice of Discontinuance), it would mean that the motions and all orders obtained by Mr. Ogunba (SAN) in the later suit numbers 722 constituted an abuse of court process and liable to be set aside,” Ogunde (SAN) argued.
He thereafter informed the court that parties were exploring settlement option and asked for a week’s adjournment for report of settlement or for the hearing of all pending applications in suit numbers 719, 720, 721, 722 and 552.
When asked by the court, Mr.Ogunba (SAN) said he is aware of the settlement effort. He also did not oppose the application for adjournment. Consequently, Justice Liman adjourned the matter to July 23, 2020. Union bank and Citibank lawyers also showed up based on orders served on them but the court could not hear them.