Senator Stella Oduah and her firm, Sea Petroleum and Gas Company Limited on Tuesday asked the Federal High Court in Lagos for time to respond to a debt recovery suit filed against them by Sterling Bank Plc.
Justice A. O. Faji adjourned till May 30 for hearing of all pending applications on the matter.
The bank said Oduah and the firm owe it $16.4million and N100.5 million respectively.
Sea Petroleum’s lawyer, Mrs. Ijeoma Esom and Oduah’s counsel, Mr. A. Nweke, said they had filed a preliminary objection and an application to discharge an interim order freezing the defendants’ account.
They urged the court to grant them extension of time for them to file their responses to the bank’s petition.
The matter was initially pending before Justice Abdulaziz Anka before it was transferred to Justice Faji
Justice Anka restrained Senator Oduah and Sea Petroleum and Gas Company Limited from making any withdrawals from its account and those of three other companies in 21 banks.
The other firms are Sea Shipping Agency Limited, Rotary Engineering Services Limited and Tour Afrique Company Limited.
The order followed an affidavit deposed to by Sterling Bank’s business manager, Mr. Segun Akinsanya.
The bank said it granted a lease /Cabotage Vessel Finance Facility (CVFF) to Sea Petroleum and Gas to finance one unit 5,000 MT tanker vessel.
According to the bank, the loan was secured through an unconditional personal guarantee by Princess Oduah.
The bank said the guarantee was backed by a statement of her net worth, legal mortgage of two properties worth N135 billion, and a power of Attorney of the tanker vessel in favour of Sterling Bank.
he bank said between June 27, 2013, Sea Petroleum requested and was granted additional loan of $450,000 for post- delivery expenses, as well as $993,000 to meet the requisite conditions in securing the tanker’s release.
Akinsanya said despite several reminders and demands, the defendants failed to liquidate the indebtedness which rose to $16.4million and about N100.5million as at last November.
He said there was an imminent risk of the defendants dissipating the companies’ assets if not restrained.
The bank, therefore, urged the court to grant the order restraining Oduah and other directors of the companies from withdrawing from their accounts in all the banks pending the determination of the debt recovery suit.
Oduah and her companies have urged the court to discharge the order.