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Obat Oil seeks out of court settlement in N1.4 billion alleged debt dispute

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gavelRecognising the importance of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in conflict management, Obat Oil and Petroleum Limited, owned by His Imperial Majesty, Oba Frederick Akinruntan has proposed an out of court settlement with Skye Bank Plc over an alleged N1.4 billion debt.

Skye Bank had filed the action seeking to recover a loan debt of N2,142,462,572.26 owed it by Obat Oil and Petroleum.Counsel to Obat, Mr Olalekan Ojo, announced that parties have met on several occasions with a view to settling out of court.
   
“I most respectfully apply for a short adjournment to enable parties effectively agree on the repayment terms. They have been customers for years,” he stated.

   
The bank, had in a suit before Justice Jude Dagat of the Federal High Court, Lagos, prayed for the enforcement of an arbitral award dated August 7, 2015.

The loan was guaranteed by Oba Akinruntan.The bank further sought to recover 15 per cent interest on the amount from April 2014 till the liquidation of the debt.
   
Counsel to the bank, Mr. Sylva Ogwemoh (SAN), confirmed that meetings had been held, but that no offer had been made.“No payment terms have been proposed to us. My hands are tied and my clients are eager. What is in issue is depositors’ funds. If there is a display of good faith, why not?” he said.

Ogwemoh said a meeting was held on November 14, but that Obat did not improve on its initial offer of N100 million part payment.
“They owe N1.4 billion and their offer is not even up to half a billion naira. Nothing reasonable has been put on the table,” Ogwemoh added.
   
But, Ojo promised that his client would “take this issue of amicable settlement seriously”.Justice Dagat encouraged the parties to settle out of court.
   
“We always encourage settlement. I will give a short date for parties to explore settlement,” he said.The case was first taken before an arbitrator, Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), who awarded N1,406,944,352.76 to the claimant, which he said represents the amount the respondents admitted as being the outstanding balance as at March 31, 2014.
   
Babalola also awarded 10 per cent interest annually on the N1.4 billion from the April 1l, 2014, till final liquidation of the amount.
   
The bank, however, alleged that Obat and Oba Akinruntan failed to comply with the Arbitration award. It applied to the court to order the award’s enforcement, which was granted.Justice Dagat adjourned till January 13 for report of settlement or hearing of pending applications.



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