Court Orders Evacuation Of Petroleum Products From Seized Tank Farm

Acquiescing to the prayers of an indigenous oil firm, Zone 4 Energy Limited, a Federal High Court, Lagos has ordered First Bank’s receiver manager, Emmanuel Oyebanji, to allow an oil marketing company, Chukelad Nigeria Limited, to evacuate its 2,804,735 litres of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and 1,927,727 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) stored in a tank farm belonging to Zone 4.

The tank farm, which is within the Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ), is under the control of Oyebanji, who was appointed receiver/manager by First Bank of Nigeria Limited, pursuant to courts order made on July 1, 2016.

Ruling on an application by counsel to Zone 4, Mr. Lanre Ogunlesi (SAN), Justice Abudulazeez Anka held that the products should be evacuated with immediate effect.

Another judge of the court, Justice Saliu Saidu, had on July 1, empowered the bank’s receiver manager to take over the entire assets of Zone 4 Energy at the CFTZ, over an alleged debt owed the bank. But, Zone 4 Energy said it had a prior agreement with Chukelad Nigeria in a supporting affidavit, to use the tank farm to store its AGO and DPK, before Justice Saidu made the order.

Zone 4 Energy said Chukelad Nigeria also paid to use the tank farm, adding that the bank’s receiver manager took over the assets, while Chukelad Nigeria was loading its trucks at the depot.

“The situation is that Chukelad Nigeria limited is the owner of the property and not liable to any of the parties before the court. Rather, it sees same as his belongings, which unfortunately comes into the hands of a receiver manager, while performing his functions.

“I further implore the learned counsel for the plaintiff to take his pound of flesh without a drop of blood. The application is proper before the court…hence the application succeeds, the objection is accordingly over-ruled. The products lying in the tank farm, is accordingly ordered to be evacuated in presence of the registrar, monitoring same with immediate effect,” Justice Anka held.

The court also heard the motion to discharge the order granted by Justice Saidu, which was filed on behalf of Zone 4 by Ogunlesi, on the ground that condition precedent to confer jurisdiction to the court was not fulfilled.

Ogunlesi also argued that there were misrepresentation and suppression of material facts by the plaintiff, which formed the basis of the order granted. But Oyebanji vehemently opposed the application to vacate the order. Justice Anka adjourned till September 8, to rule on the application to set aside the order.

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