By Davidson Iriekpen
Access Bank has disagreed with a petition filed against it by Lagos-based lawyer, Chief Ajibola Aribisala (SAN), seeking to wind up the bank over alleged inability to pay a N2.264 billion debt.
Aribisala had filed the petition claiming N2.264 billion which allegedly constitute the fees for various legal services he had rendered to the bank.
According to the petition, he averred that he was instructed at different times by Access Bank to recover various debts, running into billions, owed the bank by Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited and Bi-Courtney Limited, and that the bank agreed to pay him ten per cent of the recovered sum.
Aribisala further added that after he had taken various steps to recover the debt, Access Bank secretly went behind him and sold Zenon’s loan assets to the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) for N13.5 billion, which according to him, was not the initial agreement.
But speaking through its lawyer, Babatunde Fagbohun (SAN), at the continued hearing of the matter before Justice John Tsoho, Access Bank faulted the suit, stressing that it was not true that any ten percent was agreed to be paid to Aribisala.
Fagbohun countered that in the letter of instruction given to Aribisala, the mandate given to him (Aribisala) to recover the debt was not an exclusive one, and that it was never the agreement that the bank could not resort to other means to recover the money.
Contrary to Aribisala’s allegation that Zenon’s loan was sold for N13.5 billion, Access Bank stated that AMCON only issued bond for the loan, which was in itself an instrument of debt.
The Bank described bond as a promise to pay at a letter date, adding that it was not true that AMCON had paid for the loan.
The bank stated that apart from the fact that Aribisala had been paid N173 million, the amount being claimed by Aribisala was seriously disputed, which robbed the Federal High Court of jurisdiction over the matter.
The bank is therefore seeking a stay of proceedings on the ground that the alleged indebtedness was being disputed on substantial ground, and that the court was not the proper forum for the matter to be heard.
But Aribisala through his lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) has also filed a preliminary objection to Access Bank’s motion, and urged the court to dismiss it and proceed with the matter. Ruling has been reserved till May 23.
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