By Davidson Iriekpen
Chairman of Daar Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Thursday told a Federal High Court Lagos, presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris that he had settled all his debts to the bank and is now fully discharged of all liabilities to the bank.
The submission was stoutly opposed by the bank which insisted that it was still being owed N3.3 billion by Dokpesi.
This disagreement arose during the proceedings in a suit filed against Daar Communications by Fidelity Bank, with the bank asking the court to wind up the company over its alleged inability to repay a loan facility estimated at about N7.524 billion.
Dokpesi’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), told the court that his client had fully liquidated the debt it owed the bank.
Ozekhome said: “On February 24, 2012 when the matter last came up, My Lord adjourned it till today for report of settlement. However the petitioner later went before your learned brother, Justice Charles Achibong and obtained a judgment on the basis of facts mutually agreed on by the parties.
“Based on this judgment, our client has paid the sum of N4.2 billion to the Petitioner. They have also recovered another one billion naira from our assets, totaling N5.2 billion. This is the amount agreed on and as far as we are concerned, we have fully repaid our indebtedness.
“We were even thinking they would come to court today to say the matter has been settled and that they would release our assets pledged for the loan. But to our surprise a few days ago we were served with an affidavit in which they were claiming an additional N3.3 billions. That is why we have filed a new preliminary objection dated March 27 challenging the jurisdiction of this court to hear the suit.”
Fidelity Bank’s lawyer, Mr. Joseph Nwobike SAN, had earlier said Daar Communications was still indebted to his client. He said “It will be recalled that this honourable adjourned the matter till today for report of settlement.
“But I want to inform the court no settlement has been done and there is nothing to report. We are continuing with the case”
Arguments also ensued between Nwobike and Ozekhome on the issue of the two pending preliminary objections filed by the defence.
While Nwobike insisted that two preliminary objections (one filed last year and other filed on March 27, 2012, touching on the jurisdiction of the court should not be allowed to be pending in the court and that one of them must be withdrawn by Ozekhome, the latter refused.
Ozekhome said there was nothing wrong regarding the two applications in the light of the circumstances of the case, stressing that it was the affidavit for further payment brought by Fidelity Bank that gave necessitated the filing of the new preliminary objection.
The arguments on the two preliminary objections were becoming a ding-dong affair before
Justice Idris delivered a ruling that he would hear the two preliminary objections on the next adjourned date, which May 11.
It will be recalled that Justice Idris had on last Monday delivered a judgment awarding N7.5 billion to Fidelity Bank in another similar case with the same facts filed by Fidelity Bank against Daar Communications and its owner, Dokpesi.
Fidelity Bank had stated in its petition that sometime in May 2008 and June 2009, Daar Communications applied for and was granted several credit facilities which were meant to part finance its daily operation and to enable it broadcast the FIFA under 17 World Cup hosted by the country.
The bank added that the facilities were secured by a legal mortgage over a property located at 34, Creek Road, Apapa belonging to Baldok Shipping Limited; all assets debenture on the fixed and floating assets of Daar Communications valued at N21.3 billion and Dokpesi’s personal guaranty.
Fidelity further averred that the defendant accepted the terms and conditions of the overdraft facilities and executed the acceptance column of the offer letters dated May 26, 2008; September 26, 2008; October 23, 2008; November 25, 2008; February 16, 2009 and June 30, 2009.
Upon accepting the attached conditions, it stated that Daar Communications fully drew down and utilised the facilities which tenure ranged from 30 days to 2 years. It added that tenure has since lapsed, but that Daar has allegedly refused to repay its outstanding indebtedness arising from the facilities.
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