The Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned till April 6 to take pending motions in an alleged $14m debt case between Sahara Group Limited and Ecobank Nigeria Limited.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa fixed the date on Tuesday after Ecobank’s lawyer, Mr Obinna Divine, informed the court of his client’s January 23 motion seeking a summary judgment for the sum of $9,125,119.34, while Sahara Group’s lawyer, J.A. Adesulu, said his clients had filed a motion on notice in opposition.
Sahara Energy Resources Limited, Isle of Man, and Sahara Group Limited had sued Ecobank, seeking an order stopping the bank from carrying out a “unilateral review of interest rates” on loans obtained by the oil firms.
But Ecobank filed a counter-claim, insisting that it “reserves the right to review its interest rates from time to time in line with prevailing market conditions.”
The bank claimed that based on computation, Sahara Energy Resources Limited, Isle of Man, and Sahara Group Limited were indebted to it in the sum of $14,069,458.30 “being the principal sum and interest due to the counter-claimant as of August 21, 2019.”
Ecobank said though the oil firms had offered to pay them $9,125,119.34 “as full and final settlement of their indebtedness,” they remained firm in their $14,069,458.30 demand as their debt as of August 21, 2019.
However, the bank urged the court to order the oil firms to immediately pay the $9,125,119.34, which they had allegedly admitted “after the joint reconciliation carried out by parties.”
The bank then further prayed the court to compel the oil firms to pay it another $5,069,458.30 “being the outstanding correspondence to the defendant in tandem with the offer letters of May 1, 2016 and other subsisting agreements between the parties.”
But Sahara Energy Resources Limited, Isle of Man, and Sahara Group Limited have, through a motion on notice, urged the court to strike out the bank’s motion on notice and other processes on the basis that the bank wrote to Sahara Energy Resources Limited, instead of Sahara Energy Resources Limited, Isle of Man, as the first plaintiff in the papers they filed.
Counsel for the oil firms contended that by omitting Isle of Man from the name of Sahara Energy Resources Limited, Ecobank had “unilaterally introduced a new party to this suit that is not a party to the originating processes, without the express order of this court to do so.”