The Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed ruling in the suit filed by Access Bank Plc seeking to wind up African Petroleum (AP) over non payment of $35.351 million credit facility extended to it by the bank for August 4, 2009. The debt is the outstanding obligation on the letter of credit opened in favour of AP on July 18, 2008 to facilitate the importation of petroleum products.
Justice Ibrahim Auta, who presided over the suit, fixed the date after taking the submissions from both parties on the application filed by AP challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the case.
At the resumed hearing on the proceedings on Monday, AP’s counsel, P.A Ajibade claimed that the petition before the court was not within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, since, according to him, it has to do with the indebtedness by AP to the bank.
He claimed that the matter was not that of winding up but that of debt in dispute especially with existing claim to the tune of over N4.8 billion against the petitioner, which it accepted to underwrite for AP to pay but that the respondent refused to pay the amount claimed by the petitioner.
Olisa Agbakoba, in his argument submitted that the respondent has only put up a procedural defence to the petition, urging the court to hear the petition first, while procedural problems could be solved later.
According to him, the point was not that of jurisdiction but of procedure, as the respondent’s admission of debt was so clear.
“The only quibble in the matter”, he said, “was how much exactly to pay and therefore it is not in dispute. A dispute means that I don’t owe at all”.
Justice Auta subsequently fixed ruling on the matter till August 4, 2009 after taking the arguments of the two parties.