First Bank sues Arisekola’s company over N7.2b debt

cbnA Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, has adjourned till Wednesday to settle the issue of legal representation among the lawyers involved in a suit filed by First Bank of Nigeria Limited against the company of the late businessman, Alhaji Abdul-Azeez Arisekola Alao’s Lister Oil Limited, to recover a loan of N7.2 billion.

Different individuals have given different lawyers mandate to represent Lister Oil Limited in the impending suit.

Meanwhile, the order granted by the court directing the directors, shareholders and agents of Lister Oil Limited to yield up possession and deliver to the receiver manager the assets mortgaged by Lister Flour Mills to First bank Limited still subsists until the issue of legal representation of the defendants are resolved.

Joined as co-defendants in the suit are Lister Oil Limited, Mrs. Khadijah Alao-Straub and Fatimoh Alao, while First Bank Limited and Lister Flour Mills (Nigeria Limited) (in receivership) are the plaintiffs.

The court presided over by Justice Saliu Saidu on 11 February, granted an order that the defendants by themselves, the directors, shareholders, agents, servants, privies and/or employees of the second applicant in the suit, Lister Flour Mills Nigeria Limited, and the first defendant, Lister Oil Limited, are restrained in the interim from challenging, interfering, with or otherwise obstructing or frustrating the performance of the statutory duties of the receiver appointed by First Bank Limited over the asset covered by the Deed of Legal mortgage dated July 25, 2005, duly consented to by the governor of Lagos state, and registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission on November 23, 2005, and upstamped on April 4, 2012, and September 2, 1013, respectively, pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice.‬

Justice Saidu also ordered that the defendants, directors, themselves, the directors, shareholders, agents, servants, privies and/or employees of the second applicant in the suit, Lister Flour Mills Nigeria Limited, and the first defendant, Lister Oil Limited, however described are directed to yield up possession and deliver to the Receiver the asset mortgaged by the second plaintiff/applicant, Lister Flour Mills Limited, to first plaintiff/applicant, First Bank Plc, being 21, Creek road, Apapa, Lagos, more particularly described as Plot 1247, Block “IW” LSPDC Layout, Apapa, Lagos, containing an area of approximately 3.213 Acres of more, particularly delineated in duly plan number L.E.D. B/S. D/40 of Apapa Town Planning layout, and covered by the Deed of Legal Mortgage dated July 25, 2005, duly consented to the governor of Lagos state, and registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission on November 23, 2005, presently in the custody and possession of the defendants pending the hearing of motion on notice.

The plaintiffs, First Bank and a company in receivership Lister Flour Mills Nigeria Limited, in their originating summons filed before the court by their lawyer, Mr. Oluwakemi Balogun, SAN, under the matter of the Company and Allied Matters Act Cap C20 Laws of Federation of Nigeria, had demanded whether the defendants can be perpetually restrained from disturbing and obstructing the rights of the bank and the appointed receiver.‬

Consequently, the plaintiffs are seeking a declaration of the court that the defendants lack rights to interfere with the power and duties of the receiver duly appointed by the first plaintiff, First Bank Plc on November 26, 2014, pursuant to the said Deed, and that the receiver is entitled to exercise all statutory powers and duties of receiver over the mortgaged asset in accordance with the provisions of the said Deed of Legal Mortgage and Companies and Allied Matters Acts Cap C20 LFN without any interference, obstruction and/or hindrance in any manner whatsoever by the defendants or any persons acting under their authority or any person whether shareholders, officers, agents, privies and/ or employees of the second plaintiff, Lister Flour Mills Nigeria Limited.‬

They are also seeking a court declaration that the second defendant, Mrs. Khadijah Alao-Straub, being the former director of the second plaintiff, Lister Flour Mills, lacks the right to challenge the receiver appointed by the first plaintiff, Lister Oil company, over the asset.

According to an affidavit sworn to by relationship manager, Debenture and Corporate Banking Group of First Bank Mr Nurudeen Giwa, First bank sometime in January 2011 granted Lister Flour Mills four different types of loan amounting to N7.2 billion for the purpose of importation of factory equipment.

The loans were later restructured several times but when the facilities became due and due to the persistent failure of Lister Flour Mill company to liquidate its indebtedness, Mr Oluwakemi Balogun (SAN) was appointed as a receiver manager over Lister Flour Mills mortgaged asset to realise same in line with the deed of the Legal Mortgage executed by the company in favour of First bank.

On two occasions when the case was mentioned the matter could not go on due to multiple legal representation for Lister Oil Limited and Fatimo Alao.
Consequently the court had to adjourn till Wednesday for the issue of the legal representation to be sorted out.