Firm fined as bank seeks verdict in N5.4b debt suit

ECOBANK Nigeria Limited has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to enter a summary judgment in its favour against Sahara Group Limited over an alleged $14 million (about N5.4 billion) debt.

The bank’s lawyer, Mr Kunle Ogunba (SAN), sought the hearing of his pending motion for the judgment sum of $9,125,119.34 against Sahara Group, which it said the firm admitted owing.

Sahara Energy Resources Limited, Isle of Man, and Sahara Group Limited are praying for an order to stop Ecobank from carrying out a “unilateral review of interest rates” on loans they obtained.

The bank filed a counter-claim, insisting that it “reserves the right to review its interest rates from time to time in line with prevailing market conditions”.

The bank claimed that the firms owed it $14,069458.30 (principal sum and interest) as of August 21, 2019, but that the debtors offered to pay it $9,125,119.34 “as a full and final settlement of their indebtedness”.

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The bank is demanding the $14,069,458.30, but, in the meantime, is praying the court to order the oil firms to immediately pay the $9,125,119.34, which they had allegedly admitted owing, besides another $5,069,458.30.

Sahara Group’s lawyer Mr Bode Olanipekun (SAN) said he filed fresh applications, including one seeking to set aside the processes Ogunba served on him.

But Ogunba said the “deluge of applications” was a calculated attempt by the debtors to frustrate the case.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa awarded N50,000 cost against Sahara Group for stalling the matter and adjourned until Friday.

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