Ship loan: Court enters $16.4m judgment against Oduah, SPG

Stella Oduah

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria has entered judgement in favour of Sterling Bank Plc jointly and severally against the former aviation minister Senator Stella Oduah and her company Sea Petroleum and Gas Limited (SPG) in the sum of $16,412,819.06 and N100,493,225.59 respectively.

The sum being the outstanding debt owed by the Sea Petroleum and Gas Company and duly guaranteed by Senator Stella Oduah as at November 2016 to the bank with accrued interest.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Ayotunde Faji in his judgment while granting six reliefs out of the 14 sought by the bank, issued order of attachment in favour of the bank against such entire assets of SPG, cash in bank, bond, deposit, real estate, stocks, all forms of negotiable instruments in all stock broking firms, discount houses, mortgage institutions, financial houses, microfinance houses, and all licensed banks within Nigeria having Sea Petroleum as beneficial owner funds to the full extent of the unsatisfied portion of the sum of $16,,412,819.06 and N100,493,225.59 respectively as at November 2016 and other accrued interest.

The court also declared that having regard to the clear and unambiguous provisions of the deed of guarantee and indemnity personally executed by Senator Stella Oduah in favour of Sterling Bank over facility advanced to the SPG who has failed upon demands to liquidate same, judgment can be granted against Senator Stella Oduah for the unsatisfied portion of the sum owed by Sea Petroleum and Gas company to the bank.

The judgment of the court was sequel to a debt recovery suit filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer Barrister Oluwakemi Balogun SAN on behalf of Sterling bank Plc.

In an affidavit sworn to by Business Manager, Maritime of Sterling bank Plc, Segun Akinsanya with 34 exhibits attached filed and argued before the court by Balogun (SAN), Akinsanya averred that on October 8, 2012, the bank granted a lease/cabotage vessel finance facility to Sea Petroleum and Gas Company in the sum of $10,069,620.25 to finance one unit 5,000 MT tanker vessel.

The loan was secured by unconditional personal guarantee of the company director, Princess Stella Oduah supported by statement of her net worth, legal mortgage of two properties worth N135 million, power of Attorneys of the tanker vessel in favour of Sterling Bank and fully executed irrevocable standing payment order and tripatite remmitance agreement between First Bank Plc, Sterling Bank and Stella Oduah.

However, in her counter affidavit, Senator Stella Oduah, contended that, the vessel purchased with the loan facility was registered in the name of Sterling Bank until the defendant discharges the facility.

The bank was to appoint technical managers for the vessel to ensure it is in good condition. The managers appointed by the bank mismanaged the vessel resulting in several losses to the defendants. The bank ignored all pleas for the managers to be changed. SPG could therefore not meet up with its financial obligations.

In his judgement, Justice Faji said, ”I do not see any defence to this claim by Sea Petroleum and Gas company, As regards Stella Oduah, having guaranteed the loan and given an indemnity, she is equally liable with the company to pay the debt. I grant reliefs 1-6 in so far as they relate to the assets of Senator Stella Oduah and Sea Petrol and Gas company Limited within Nigeria.”

Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to as the source.