GADZAMA LLP ISSUES CAVEAT ON UNION BANK SALE

The reported sale of a huge chunk of shares of Union Bank Plc has ran into hot water as a judgement creditor has warned prospective buyers to beware of its claims against the bank.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, J-K Gadzama LLP warned that its client, Petro Union Oil & Gas Company Limited is a beneficiary of a judgement of the Federal High Court which awarded it £2, 159, 221, 318.54 against the bank.

Said the statement: “As Lead Counsel to Petro Union Oil & Gas Company Limited, and acting on the instruction of our Client, we believe it is important for us to put the prospective buyers and the public on notice of the outstanding judgment sum to the tune of £2, 159, 221, 318.54 (Two Billion, One Hundred and Fifty-Nine Million, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Thousand, Three Hundred and Eighteen Pounds Sterling, Fifty-Four Pence) against Union Bank of Nigeria PLC (“the Bank”) as delivered by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja per Honourable Justice A. Abdu-Kafarati in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/104/2012 wherein the Court, in its judgment of March 11, 2014, amongst other reliefs, held that our Client is entitled to the sum of £2, 159, 221, 318.54 (Two Billion, One Hundred and Fifty-Nine Million, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Thousand, Three Hundred and Eighteen Pounds Sterling, Fifty-Four Pence) and 15% per annum from 2nd June, 1995 until the total sum is released and transferred to our Client.”

The law firm noted that the judgement was not only validated by the Court of Appeal but that the Supreme Court also held an appeal by the bank to be incompetent. It however stated that “there is a pending application by the Bank praying the Court to set aside the said judgment.”

The leading law firm noted that though its client’s attention was drawn to reported plans by Zenith Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc to acquire the banking behemoth, “In view of the above, while we are not in a position to dissuade prospective buyers of Union Bank of Nigeria PLC not to continue with the transaction or advise against the sale of the Bank, we wish to put the public on notice that the judgment sum of £2, 159, 221, 318.54 (Two Billion, One Hundred and Fifty-Nine Million, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Thousand, Three Hundred and Eighteen Pounds Sterling, Fifty-Four Pence) is still outstanding and yet to be paid. Furthermore, the matter is yet to be concluded by the Supreme Court and may go either way.”

The full text of the statement is below.

RE: ACQUISITION OF UNION BANK PLC

The attention of our Client, Petro Union Oil & Gas Company Limited, has been drawn to an online publication by THISDAY Newspaper of May 7, 2021 captioned: Bloomberg: Zenith, Access Banks Express Interest To Acquire Union Bank of Nigeria PLC. Accessed Through Bloomberg: Zenith, Access Banks Express Interest To Acquire Union Bank | Thisdaylive

In the said publication, it was reported thus:

“Two Nigerian lenders – Zenith Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc – are among the list of financial institutions. from Africa and the Middle East that have indicated an interest in the acquisition of Union Bank Plc and other African assets of Atlas Mara Group, a Pan-African banking group.

Bloomberg which disclosed this quoted sources familiar with the matter to have disclosed that Atlas Mara Limited, the London Stock Exchange-listed pan-African banking group started by Mr. Bob Diamond has received a number of approaches for its 49.97 per cent holding in Lagos-based Union Bank of Nigeria.

Zenith Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc are among the suitors that have expressed interest alongside other African rivals such as Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank, the sources said. THISDAY also confirmed the development from sources in the two tier-1 banks, who also pleaded to remain anonymous.”

As Lead Counsel to Petro Union Oil & Gas Company Limited, and acting on the instruction of our Client, we believe it is important for us to put the prospective buyers and the public on notice of the outstanding judgment sum to the tune of £2, 159, 221, 318.54 (Two Billion, One Hundred and Fifty-Nine Million, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Thousand, Three Hundred and Eighteen Pounds Sterling, Fifty-Four Pence) against Union Bank of Nigeria PLC (“the Bank”) as delivered by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja per Honourable Justice A. Abdu-Kafarati in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/104/2012 wherein the Court, in its judgment of March 11, 2014, amongst other reliefs, held that our Client is entitled to the sum of £2, 159, 221, 318.54 (Two Billion, One Hundred and Fifty-Nine Million, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Thousand, Three Hundred and Eighteen Pounds Sterling, Fifty-Four Pence) and 15% per annum from 2nd June, 1995 until the total sum is released and transferred to our Client.

The judgment of the Federal High Court was affirmed by the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/A/258/2014 delivered on Tuesday, the 5th day of June, 2018 and the Appeal lodged by the Bank was dismissed. Furthermore, an Appeal to the Supreme Court by the Bank in SC.632/2018 was held to be incompetent by the judgement of the Supreme Court delivered on Monday, December 16, 2019, by Honourable Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili, JSC, although there is a pending application by the Bank praying the Court to set aside the said judgment.

In view of the above, while we are not in a position to dissuade prospective buyers of Union Bank of Nigeria PLC not to continue with the transaction or advise against the sale of the Bank, we wish to put the public on notice that the judgment sum of £2, 159, 221, 318.54 (Two Billion, One Hundred and Fifty-Nine Million, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Thousand, Three Hundred and Eighteen Pounds Sterling, Fifty-Four Pence) is still outstanding and yet to be paid. Furthermore, the matter is yet to be concluded by the Supreme Court and may go either way.

Dated this Tuesday, the day 1st day of June, 2021

PP: J-K Gadzama LLP

____________________________________________________________________________
Joe-Kyari Gadzama, OFR, MFR, SAN, FNIALS, FICMC, DiplCArb, FCIArb, Chartered Arbitrator.

GADZAMA_UBN+

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N1.26TR NATIONAL THEATRE SUIT: COURT SET OCTOBER 29 FOR PARTIES TO BATTLE

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The forthcoming annual vacation of the Federal High Court has stalled speedy hearing of an application in a N1.26 trillion suit brought by Topwideapeas Limited seeking an order of the court to annul concessioning of a part of the controversial National Theatre edifice.

The plaintiff is praying for an interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from interfering with the plaintiff’s rights as concessionaire of the fallow land adjoining the National Theatre. The substantive motion was earlier set down for hearing on March 10, 2020 but was aborted by the coronavirus crisis.

Among the defendants that were served by substituted means are Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Minister, Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture & National Orientation, Attorney-General of the Federation and Central Bank of Nigeria as second to fifth defendants. Other defendants in the suit are National Theatre & The National Troupe of Nigeria Board, Access Bank of Nigeria Plc and its Managing Director, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, as first, sixth and seventh defendants respectively. The case is listed as FHC/L/CS/2392/2019, Topwideapeas Ltd V National Theatre & National Troupe of Nigeria Board & 6 Ors.

Though counsel for the plaintiff, Mr. Matthew Nkap had at the resumed hearing last Wednesday sought an early date to argue the pending application for an interlocutory injunction, Justice Ayokunle Faji stated that his hands were tied by the impending vacation. He adjourned the matter to October 29 to hear all pending applications. Barrister C. Opara represented the 4th Defendant while Mr. Adeniyi Adegbonmire SAN appeared for the 6th and 7th defendants.

The plaintiff had scaled a major hurdle last March when the court ordered that all the court processes should be served on some defendants by substituted means.

After listening to the Lead Counsel for the plaintiff, Mr. Chijioke Okoli SAN argue a motion ex-parte for substituted service on the defendants, the court had ordered the plaintiff to serve the writ of summons and statement of claim on the defendants via DHL courier service and also by publication in a national newspaper.

The court also ordered that hearing notice for an interlocutory injunction to restrain the defendants from interfering with the plaintiff’s rights as concessionaire of the fallow land adjoining the National Theatre should be served on the defendants, while the substantive motion was set down for hearing on March 10, 2020.

The plaintiff is seeking among others a declaration that the plaintiff has a valid and binding contract for the concession of the fallow land surrounding the National Theatre Complex in terms of the updated draft concession agreement between the Federal Republic of Nigeria (represented by the first and third defendants) and the plaintiff, the approval of the Federal Executive Council being a mere formality in the circumstances.

Topwideapeas also seeks a declaration that it is unlawful for the fifth to seventh defendants to purport to truncate and nullify the plaintiff’s right as the concessionaire of the fallow land in and about the National Theatre Complex Iganmu, Lagos, by inducing the breach of the plaintiff’s contract with the first to third defendants or by any other means.

The plaintiff prays the court to declare that it is contrary to public policy and constitutes a misappropriation of scarce public funds for the fifth defendant (CBN) to divert public funds towards any project concerning the National Theatre Complex, Iganmu, Lagos, when the plaintiff and its partners and privies have mobilised local and foreign private investment into developing the complex and surrounding land into a grand mini-city on a scale entirely beyond the legitimate capacity of the fifth defendant.

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