Multi-million Dollar Debt: Court Set to Hear Sterling Bank’s Suit Against Stella Oduah

Senator Stella Oduah

Ladipo Sanusi/

A Federal High Court in Lagos today fixed January 25, 2018 for hearing in a suit filed by Sterling Bank Plc against Senator Stella Oduah over debts of $16.4 million and N100.5 million.

Justice Ayotunde Faji fixed the new date to listen to the various applications filed by Oduah and other respondents in the suit.

Oduah’s co-respondents include Sea Petroleum and Gas Company Limited, Sea Shipping Agency Limited, Rotary Engineering Services Limited and Tour Afrique Company Limited.

Sterling bank Plc had alleged that Oduah and her companies were indebted to it.

When the matter came up today, Sterling Bank’s counsel, Funke Aboyade (SAN), as well as counsels to Oduah and the other respondents told the court of their clients’ various applications pending before the court.

They include an application challenging the competence to hear the suit, an application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the case and an application to discharge mareva injunction earlier granted Sterling Bank by the former trial judge, Justice Abdulaziz Anka.

Sterling Bank’s counsel also applied to the court for extension of time to enable her respond to the respondents’ various applications.

After listening to the submissions of all the parties, Justice Ayotunde fixed January 25, 2018, for hearing of all pending applications.

The former trial judge, Justice Abdulaziz Anka, had in March, issued an order restraining Oduah and her companies from making any withdrawal from its account and those of three other companies domiciled with 21 banks in the country.

Justice Anka also issued an order directing the affected commercial banks harbouring the assets of Oduah and the other respondents to sequestrate their indebtedness as at November 2016.

The court equally ordered that the monies should be kept in an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court pending the determination of the suit.

But, following the transfer of Justice Anka from the Lagos division of the court, the matter was reassigned to Justice Faji.

Sterling Bank in an affidavit in support of the suit, deposed to by one of its staff, Segun Akinsanya, averred that on October 8, 2012, it granted a Lease/Cabotage Vessel Finance Facility (CVFF) to Sea Petroleum and Gas Company.

The deponent said that the facility was in the said sums to finance one unit 5,000 MT tanker vessel.

He averred that the loan was secured by an unconditional personal guarantee of the companies’ director, Princess Stella Oduah.

Akinsanya also averred that same was supported by a statement of her net worth, legal mortgage of two properties worth N135 billion and a Power of Attorney of the tanker vessel in favour of Sterling Bank.

In support of the facility, the bank also secured a fully executed standing payment order and tripartite remittance agreement between it and Oduah.

He further averred that on June 27, 2013, Sea Petroleum Company requested and was granted additional facilities of about $450,000 for post delivery expenses.

The bank also granted the company about $993,000 to meet the requisite conditions in securing the release of the tanker.

The deponent averred that following the persistent failure of the defendants to liquidate their indebtedness, Sterling Bank instructed its counsels to recover the debt.

He said that in spite of several reminders and demands, the defendants had failed and refused to liquidate their indebtedness, which had culminated to $16.4 million and about N100.5 million as at November 2016.

He averred that there was an imminent risk of the defendants dissipating the assets of the companies and, consequently, urged the court to issue a restraining order against them.