Oil Firm Initiates Contempt Proceedings Against Officers Of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority

Samon Petroleum Limited, The initiator Of The Contempt Proceedings

Two oil firms, BB Energy Holding Mauritius Limited and Samon Petroleum Limited (Trading as Samon Petroleum FZE (in receivership) have initiated contempt proceedings against the erstwhile directors, Mr. Samuel Okeke, Ogbonna Okeke and Ifesinachi Okeke and the officers of NEPZA.

NEPZA officers joined in the proceedings are Professor Adesoji Adesugba and Mrs Nkechi C Mbah.

The application was filed at the Federal High Court in Calabar, Cross River State, over the defendants’ disturbance of a Receiver-Manager, Tobenna Nnamani of Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors.

Justice Rosemary Dugbo-Oghoghorie had granted an interim order of injunction restraining the defendants or their agents from interfering with Nnamani as receiver/manager over the assets of the second plaintiff (Samon Petroleum in receivership).

The court had also directed them to yield possession and deliver to the receiver-manager the charged assets of the second plaintiff, a list of debtors, among others pending the determination of the suit.

The court action bothers on 1st Plaintiffs contractual right to appoint a Receiver Manager over an unpaid credit facility involving the principal sum of $3,697,500 and accrued interest of $1,000,448 as of June 30, 2021.

Following alleged non-compliance with the orders, the plaintiffs initiated contempt proceedings against the defendants, Professor Adesoji Adesugba and Mrs Nkechi Mbah.

The Plaintiffs’ counsel Adebanjo Adebusuyi, informed the court that the management of the Calabar Free Trade Zone, acting on an order for status quo made on March 16, 2023, “turned themselves to the executioners of the court order and with the aid of the police drove out the workers engaged by the receiver-manager”.

The lawyer stressed that the order does not empower the Free Trade Zone to remove the receiver-manager, adding that the act constitutes disobedience to the original court order.

The court noted that the existing order was to preserve the asset and protect the receiver manager while he performs his statutory functions.

After hearing argument from respective counsel, the Court directed the NEPZA’s counsel as follows: “Take this message back to the Free Trade Zone that this court has not made an order vacating or preventing the receiver-manager from performing his duties. 

“As far as this court is concerned, the first order still subsists.”

Justice Dugbo-Oghoghorie adjourned the matter for hearing.