Why Seplat Petroleum Signals Litigation Against Access Bank

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Seplat Petroleum has served notice to drag Access Bank Plc to court for sealing off the corporate headquarters of the oil firm over a loan reportedly owed by Cardinal Drilling Services Limited, an oil services company.

The indigenous oil firm had in a latter claimed that it is not an obligor of a loan to Access Bank. It noted that the Cardinal Drilling Services loan was originally obtained from Diamond Bank in 2012 and collapsed into Access Bank after their merger.

The bank had obtained an ex-parte order dated November 13th, 2020, to seal the assets of Seplat. In a statement last Tuesday, Seplat denied having any direct relationship business with Access Bank.

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According to the oil firm, the Bank could have only moved against Seplat Petroleum due to its relationship with Cardinal Services Limited.

The move by Access Bank has triggered a corporate battle between the bank and Seplat with the latter claiming it is not an obligor of a loan to Access Bank.

Seplat helped mid-wife Cardinal Drilling Nigeria Ltd to unlock 60 per cent of its equity in a joint venture with Maurel & Prom.

In a statement issued and signed by its company’s secretary and general counsel, Mrs Edith Onwuchekwa, Seplat wrote thus: “We understand that Cardinal Drilling has outstanding loan obligations to Access Bank.

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“However, SEPLAT is neither a shareholder in Cardinal Drilling nor has outstanding loan obligations or guarantees to Access Bank and did not at any time make any commitments or guarantees in respect of Cardinal Drilling’s loan obligations to Access Bank.

“SEPLAT strongly believes that there is no merit or justification for this action against it and has taken prompt legal action to vacate the court order pursuant to which the building was sealed.

“This action was taken by Access Bank without any prior notice to SEPLAT, as required under Nigerian law. SEPLAT will vigorously defend itself against this improper action to the full extent of the law and will seek all appropriate legal remedies.”

Investigations reveal that the third-party – Cardinal Drilling Service Limited, which provides drilling services to Seplat, has outstanding loan obligations to Access Bank.

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A Mareva injunction is a court order freezing a debtor’s assets to prevent them from being taken abroad.

The court order obtained by Access Bank to seize the assets of Seplat included Seplat chairman, ABC Orjiakor, managing director of Cardinal Drilling Services, Kalu Nwosu, and Cardinal Drilling Services as defendants. The court also appointed Kunle Ogunba SAN as the receiver-manager for the assets of the defendants.

By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja

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