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Court adjourns suit against Odogwu’s firms to March 18

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A FEDERAL High Court, Lagos Monday said it would on March 18, 2015 hear a suit filed by Diamond Bank against popular businessman, Sunny Odogwu and his companies over alleged non-payment of N26.229 billion debt.

   The matter, which was initially fixed for hearing on Monday, could not go on as scheduled owing to the preliminary objection filed by the defendants.

   Counsel to Diamond Bank, Oluwakemi Balogun (SAN) had told the court that the preliminary objection of the defendants was served on his office around 5.pm on Friday, and requested for an adjournment to respond to same.

   However, in reaction to the suit, SIO Group’s legal adviser, Mr. Philip Ike Okocha said that from inception, the bank was not sincere when granting the loan. He added that it abysmally failed to keep to the terms of the agreement in granting the facility and ended up with arbitrary interest rates that ran above 200 percent, contrary to the agreed terms.

   Okocha further explained that Odogwu was the guarantor of the facility to the said companies but that due to the bank’s insincerity and questionable interest rates, it became obvious that the agreement cannot be honoured.

   Trial judge, Justice Saliu Seidu had earlier ordered 19 commercial banks in Nigeria not to allow Odogwu and his companies – Robert Dyson & Diet Limited and SIO Properties Limited to withdraw funds from their accounts.

   The order was sequel to an order of Mareva injunction sought by Diamond Bank for alleged refusal of Odogwu and his companies to offset the loan they obtained from the bank.

   On Monday, Justice Seidu discharged the 13th garnishee in the Mareva injunction owing to the fact that the defendants were not maintaining any account with the bank.

   Joined as co-defendants in the debt recovery suit are Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the Registrar of Title, Federal Land Registry, and Leadway Trustees Limited, as fourth, fifth and sixth defendants respectively.

   The Mareva injunction was granted after the bank’s counsel, Balogun argued an ex-parte application before the court.

  The bank is, therefore, in its originating summons, seeking an order of the court entering judgment in the sum of N26, 229,943, 035.22, jointly or severely against the first to third defendants, being the outstanding sum as at September 30, 2014 on the loan advanced by the bank for the defendants.

   Okocha added that aside the bank’s insincerity, it also failed to provide adequate security for the facility, contrary to the agreement.

The bank, in an affidavit in support of the application sworn to by Fanen Shambe, the bank’s Relationship Manager, averred that sometimes in 2007, SIO Properties Limited and Odogwu, on behalf of Robert Dyson and Diket Limited Company, approached the bank and required huge finance to be applied and disbursed as at when due for their project called ‘Luxury Collection Hotels and Apartments’, formerly Le Meridian Grand Tower, to be constructed at 31-35, Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos, in the name of SOI Properties Limited of which Odogwu was the chairman and majority share owner.

  The deponent also averred that Odogwu, convenated through the SIO Properties Limited to execute third party legal mortgage in favour of Diamond Bank over the said property as a security for the facility availed them by the bank, and that SIO Properties Limited, by a letter and a board resolution affirmed the said covenant to the bank.

   Shambe averred further that it was upon a duly executed agreement that the bank granted Odogwu and the two companies the loan in form of a bridge finance of the said N26, 229,943,035.22.    However, the deponent added that Odogwu and his companies were insolvent, otherwise bankrupt and unable to meet their financial obligation.


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