• Saturday, June 22, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Court grants Sidpet Oil garnishee order over Edem Duke’s Mirage Investments’ accounts

calabar hc

A High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, has granted an absolute order to Sidpet Oil and Chemicals Company Limited to garnishee all the monies in the accounts of three banks operated by Mirage Investments Limited, a hotel group owned by Edem Duke, former minister for culture, tourism and national orientation during the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

The order followed a judgment obtained by Sidpet Oil in October 2014 against Mirage Investments Limited, operator of the Mirage Hotel, following its failure to pay N50 million it accumulated for the supply of diesel for a period of one year.

Justice Emmanuel Ayade, who granted the order, said he was surprised that a hotel of such magnitude could owe for diesel for such a long period of time, without payment, even after its creditor had obtained a court judgment.

Justice Ayade said: “How can this court believe that a hotel of the magnitude of Mirage has no money to pay for diesel, and it has not liquidated; it is really unfortunate.”

Counsel to Sipet Oil, Eric Utang told the court that its order to garnishee accounts of the debtor was served on four banks where the Mirage Investments accounts are domiciled, and appealed to the court to grant the Absolute Order to enable his client retrieve their money, as it has become that the debtor company was not willing to pay or enter into negotiations with its creditor on how to settle the indebtedness.

However, after summing the cumulative amounts in the three banks, GTB, UBA, and First Bank Plc, which agreed that Mirage Investments has accounts with them, it was discovered that not up to N200,000 accrue therein.
“First Bank plc, which is the first garnishee respondent deposed to an affidavit on the 1st of July 2016, and showed cause that it holds three corporate accounts of the debtor company, and that there are outstanding sums in the three accounts amounting to about N451,000, but the bank has reserved its rights to withhold the sum in the three accounts because the judgment debtor is also indented to it; and to that extent there is no fund to be paid out and we take that in good fate,” Utang told the court.

Also, the court discovered that Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) where the company has two accounts, they were found to be dormant and with less than N10,000 in both accounts while in UBA, the judgment debtor has just N150,000.

Joseph Nnadi-Esom, the counsel to GTB said the company has two accounts which has N9,040,86k and N2,917,45k; and both have been dormant since 30th March, 2007 and 29th August, 2008, respectively.

“These two accounts have not been operated in the last eight years and by implication they are dormant, and we urge the court to make an Absolute Order in these sums as partial fulfilment in satisfaction of the judgement in favour of the judgement creditor/respondent,” Nnadi-Esom told the court.

Justice Ayade said though, the sums available in the accounts were grossly inadequate; Sidpet Oil should appropriate the money while making efforts to seek other means of getting its full sum.

Asuquo Eyo, who appeared for the Mirage Hotel, said he has advised the company to settle the principal sum to Sidpet Oil, while pursing the appeal against the interest for the sum claimed by the judgement creditor.

“I have appealed to the Mirage to pay the principal sum while we appeal against the interest, but the general complaint is that of lack of money and this is made worse by the death of Edem Duke’s mother, as he is concentrating his efforts to bury her,” Eyo said.