Alleged Unpaid Debt; Oil Firm Withdraws winding-Up Suit Against BRT Operators

Alleged Unpaid Debt; Oil Firm Withdraws winding-Up Suit Against BRT Operators

Justice Ambrose Lewis Allagoa of a Lagos Federal High Court, has struck out a winding-up suit filed by a petroleum company, Petrocam Trading Nigeria, against the Lagos’ Rapid Bus Transport (BRT) operators, Primero Transport Service Limited.

Petrocam Trading Nigeria, through his counsel, Olatokunbo Davis of Kemi Pinheiro LP, had approached the court for the winding up of the transportation company, in a suit numbered FHC/L/CP/1702/20, over alleged N63, 466 million, unpaid debt.

The Petroleum Firm had told the court that its petition was pursuant to Order 19, Rule 1, of the Company Winding-Up Rules 2001, and under the Court’s inherent jurisdisction.

Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited, stated that it’s request before the court is sequel to Primero’s failure and continued failure to pay the debt of  N63, 466,000 million.

Consequently, it asked the court for the leave to advertise the Premero’s winding up petition in the Gazette and in Thisday Newspaper or Punch Newspaper or any other widely circulating newspaper.

Petrocam in its petition for winding-up Primero Transport Service Limited and verifying affidavit in support of the petition deposed to by Financial Manager, Taiwo Abiodun, and filed before the court, stated that sometime between the months of January, 2019 and January, 2020, upon the request of the respondent, the Petitioner made a Supply of automated gas oil, lubricant oil and gear oil worth the sum of N174, 046, million, and that the supply was made on credit on the agreement that the Respondent will pay N10 million, as advanced payment before the delivery and balance payment 30 days after invoice date. 

The Financial Manager stated that Petrocam supplied the Automated Gas Oil as agreed however, contrary to the agreement of the parties, the Primero failed to make payment to the Petitioner. 

He stated that when Primero Transport Service Limited failed and refused to pay the money as agreed, several letters were written to Primero to liquidate its outstanding indebtedness in the sum of N113, 446, 000 million, and that upon receipt of the letters, respondent only paid a paltry sum of N1,866 million, N28, 114 million and N20 million, leaving the sum of N63, 466 million, as outstanding. 

The petitioner’s Financial Manager stated however that when it became glaring that the respondent did not want to be the outstanding of N63, 466 million, the petitioner, Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited, instituted Suit marked FHC/L/CP/1239/20 against the respondent but same was discontinued with a promise by the Respondent to pay the total outstanding sum by November 6, 2020, but the Respondent has despite receipt of the said letter failed and or neglected to accede to same. 

He stated that the respondent, having fully utilized the products and despite several and persistent demands by the Petitioner, the Respondent has wilfully failed, refused and/or neglected to repay the outstanding sums due to the Petitioner. 

On the need for leave to advertise the Winding-Up of Primero Transport Service Limited, the Financial Manager stated that the Petitioner as such applies by petition for winding up of the Respondent’s Company on the ground that it is unable to pay the debt owed, after same has become due and the Petitioner has made a formal demand for the payment of the said debt. 

He also stated that the BRT operators has not in any way whatsoever denied its indebtedness to the Petitioner. But it has become insolvent and therefore unable to pay its debt, because it is more than 21 days and the company has not made the payment as demanded in the petitioner’s several letters of demand dated May, 14, 2020, June 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020 respectively. Adding that the amount demanded exceeds N200, 000, 00. 

He also stated that Pursuant to Sections 571 (d) and 572 (a) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020, Primero Transport Services Limited has shown its incapacity to pay its debts contrary to Section 571 and 572 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020. 

He therefore urged the court to declare that Primero Transport Services Limited be wound up under the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act. 

However, the BRT operator has asked the court to dismiss the winding-Up suit against it on the ground debt referred to by the Petitioner is currently a nonexistent debt.

Primero in its counter-affidavit deposed by a legal practitioner, Mejulu Henry of Hawkes Legal, stated that the petitioner centers on an obligation to pay’ money pursuant to supply of Automated Gas Oil, Gear oil and other oil additives between parties. 

Mejulu aveered that he is aware that the respondent since the commencement of their business relationship with the petitioner has always enjoyed a credit relationship as a result of the volumes/orders requested from the petitioner. 

The deponent stated that the respondent is not indebted to the petitioner in the sum of N63, 466 million. Adding that between January 20 and 22, 2021, the respondent had made further payments of the sum of N64 Million which is far in excess of the debt claimed by the petitioner.  

The deponet while claimed that the debt referred to by the Petitioner is currently a nonexistent debt, stated that the respondent is not insolvent and is in a position to pay its debts. 

Mejulu also claimed that the petitioner’s petition was mainly to paralyze his client’s businesses and severely injure its reputation and corporate image.  

At the resumed ruling on the Primero’s preliminary objections to the petition on Monday, Olatokunbo Davis who led Kazeem Afolabi, informed the court that he has filed a notice of discontinuance of the suit, on the ground that parties have reached ‘settlement’.

Olatokunbo therefore asked the court to strike out the winding-Up suit.

Following the lawyer’s submission, Justice Lewis-Allagoa instantly strike out the suit.