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Ecobank drags Osibodu to court over alleged N8.7bn debt

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Ecobank Nigeria Ltd has dragged a Lagos businessman, Mr. Victor Osibodu and his company Vigeo limited before a Federal high court, in Lagos southwest Nigeria over an alleged debt of N8,701,770,328.83.

In the proceedings, Ecobank’s counsel, Mr. Dapo Akinosun SAN, leading Barrister Akintayo Iwilade and four other counsels informed the presiding judge, Justice Yellin Bogoro that the bank has 111 exhibits attached to the process and two witnesses to call.

In its statement of claim, Ecobank alleged that by a duly executed offer of Multiple Credit Facility dates April 10, 2007 the bank approved the grant of $15 million and $1,750,000.00  respectively in favor of Vigeo Nigeria limited,for the acquisition of a motor tug boat known as Lady Margret now Vigeo Olufunke from a company in Norway.

The bank stated that by another duly executed offer of Multiple Credit Facility dated April 10, 2007, the bank in three tranches granted to Vigeo the sum of N200 million, N750 million and N350 million respectively for the purpose of working capital and import duty payments with a tenor of 12 months (renewable annually) at the interest rate of 16 % per annum.

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According to the bank, the first Vigeo Company secured the facilities, with a lien on shares of blue chips companies estimated at N500 million to be whare-housed with the bank, receipt of irrevocable domiciliation of contract proceeds from majors Oil companies in favor of the bank and stocks of goods valued at N150 million.

The bank added that in accordance with the security required under the credit facility, dated April 10 2007 (Dollar Facility), the Chairman of Vigeo Company,   Mr. Victor Osibodu executed a personal guarantee and a duly notarized statement of Net worth dated August 16, 2007, the statement of Net worth provides particulars of his personal assets worth N2,002,400,000.00 for the security of the loan sums in the event that he defaults in the repayment of the loan.

According to the plaintiff, despite the defendant’s loan obligations, the board of his company at a meeting on May 3, 2009, requested the additional facility of $1million for the purpose of completing the life extension program of the vessel MV Vigeo Olufunke.

However, after several meetings between the bank and the defendants over the indebtedness, Ecobank by a letter dated September 2, 2014 informed Vigeo that its current indebtedness stood at N798,202,164.28; $13,547,854.4 as at June 25, 2013 and additional $4,263.24.

Consequently, Ecobank is urging the court to declare that the defendants are indebted to it in the sum of $16,886,665.04 and N862, 061, 492.63 being the sum outstanding as at 1st of December 2016 with interest accruing at the agreed interest rate.

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The bank is also seeking the order of the court for the forfeiture of Vigeo house, 6 Osborne Road, Ikoyi Lagos valued at N800 million as at August 2007.

An order of forfeiture of 16A Milverton Road, Ikoyi worth N700 million.

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“An order granting the Plaintiff ownership, control, disposition and/or lien rights (until and to the extent and purpose of full realization of the sums) in the event that the properties identified are still insufficient to liquidate the Defendants’ debt.

However, Vigeo in its statement of defense stated that Ecobank Transnational Incorporated did not acquire defunct Oceanic Bank International PLC at all, contesting that any purported acquisition is void, illegal and unenforceable in law.

It stated that there was no merger of defunct Oceanic bank with the plaintiff and no valid or legal merger adding that the purported merger is illegal and void in law and did not comply with all requisite statutory requirements and due process of law.

The defendants also stated that Ecobank is not the successor-in-title or successor-in-interest of defunct Oceanic Bank and the rights, assets and liabilities of Oceanic Bank are not vested in Ecobank.

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The Defendants shall at the trial of this suit rely on the Report of the Forensic Review of Vigeo Limited Accounts with Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

Consequently, the Defendants state that they are not indebted to Plaintiff in the sum of N8,701,770,328.83 (eight billion, seven hundred and one million, seven hundred and seventy thousand three hundred and twenty-eight Naira eighty-three Kobo) or any sum at all and that the bank is not entitled to any of the reliefs claimed in this suit as same are frivolous, baseless, unmeritorious and should be dismissed with substantial costs.

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