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UBA Sues Polaris Bank, Energy Firm Over N2.8 Billion

 A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has restrained Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company Ltd and Polaris Bank from tampering, howsoever, with funds standing to their credit up to $6,759,000 (about N2.8 billion) or its equivalent in any currency in 25 banks, the Debt Management Office and Federal Ministry of Finance.

Justice Daniel Osiaigor, who made the interim order of Mareva Injunction, held that it subsists pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice filed against the duo by the United Bank for Africa (UBA).

The July 2 order followed UBA's June 29 Application filed and argued by its counsel, Temilolu Adamolekun, who appeared with Gbenga Akinde-Peters, supported by an affidavit sworn to by Anike Isinguzo and Exhibits attached. 

Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company Ltd and Polaris Bank are the 1st and 2nd respondents in the suit number FHC/L/CS/714/21.

The 3rd to 26th respondents are Access Bank plc), (Citibank Nigeria Ltd), (Diamond Bank Plc), (Ecobank Nigeria ltd), (Enterprise Bank Ltd.), (Fidelity Bank Plc.),( First Bank of Nigeria Plc.), (First City Monument Bank Plc), (Globus Bank Limited), (Guaranty Trust Bank Plc), (Heritage Bank Plc.), (Jaiz Bank Limited), (Keystone Bank Limited), (Polaris Bank Limited), (Providus Bank Limited), (Stanbic IBTC Bank Nigeria Ltd.), (Standard Chartered Bank Ltd.) (Sterling Bank Plc.), (SunTrust Bank Nigeria Limited). (Titan Trust Bank Limited), (Union Bank Plc), (Unity Bank Plc.). (Wema Bank Plc.) and (Zenith Bank Plc).

The 28th and 29th respondents are the DMO and Finance Ministry. 

The court further restrained the 3rd to 26th Respondents or their agents from releasing the sum to the Defendants.

The order also restrained the 1st Defendant from dealing with any of the monies standing to its credit in all of its accounts, or any money in which it has any interest held on its behalf with the 27th to 29th Respondents up to $6,759,000 or its equivalent.

The court restrained the 2nd Defendant from dealing with any of the monies, instruments, Sovereign Debt Notes, Promissory Notes, Treasury Bills or any other instrument in which it has an interest or standing with the 27th, 28th and 29th Respondents, to the tune of $6,759,000 or its equivalent.

It forbade the 27th, 28th and 29th Respondents (CBN, Debt Management Office and the Federal Ministry of Finance) from releasing any monies or funds belonging to the 2nd Defendant or wherein the 2nd Defendant has an interest up the $6,759,000 or its equivalent.

The judge further directed the 3rd to 29th Respondents to disclose on oath the total sum of money or funds in their custody belonging to any of the Defendants.

The plaintiff had averred in its affidavit that the energy firm won the bid to acquire 60 per cent stake/of the shares in the Ibadan and Yola Electricity Distribution Companies following the privatisation exercise of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Assets sometime in 2013.

It applied to and received a $162,400,000 syndicated loan from the plaintiff, the 2nd Defendant (formerly Skye Bank Plc), Diamond Bank Plc now Access Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank Ltd, Heritage Bank Plc and Keystone Bank Ltd (jointly referred to as the lenders).

The lenders also agreed to the appointment of the 2nd Defendant as the Facility Agent in respect of the facility to, among others, ensuring the repayment of the loan. 

The plaintiff accordingly disbursed the sum of $35 million to the 1st Defendant to enable it meet the purpose(s) for which it needed the pooled funds.

The energy firm was unable to conclude the transaction on Yola Electricity Distribution Company (Yola Disco), owing to the insurgency in North-East and it invoked the force majeure protection clause enshrined in the agreements and demanded a refund of the invested sum from the Federal Government.

Sometime in March, 2020, the Federal Government paid the final installments of the refund (recovered sum) to the energy firm and Polaris Bank. 

"However, the remaining tranche of the Plaintiff's share of the said recovered sum has since been withheld by the Defendants, particularly the 2nd Defendant," UBA told the judge.

The court adjourned till July 13, for hearing of the motion on notice.

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