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Stanbic IBTC And Ascon Oil Tussle Over Sale Of ₦2.5bn Fuel Station

Ascon Oil Company Ltd has recovered its fuel retail station at Block 36, Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, purportedly sold by Stanbic IBTC Bank.

It was gathered that the prime property with a market value of N2.5 billion was undersold at N1.53 billion, through Stanbic IBTC’s Receiver to Rainoil Ltd.

Rainoil is one of ASCON Oil competitors in the downstream sector had in 2019, while Stanbic IBTC was its banker, made a bid to acquire controlling shares in the oil firm.

It was learnt that ASCON Oil retook possession of the property following a July 24, 2020 order of Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The suit, marked FHC/L/CS/567/2020, arose following a N1.7billion loan facility.

The property had been in the Receiver’s possession following the Judge’s May 15, 2020 ex-parte order which authorised the Police protection for the Receiver to protect and preserve the fuel retail station and restrain ASCON from interfering with the discharge of his functions.

But on July 24, 2020, Justice Liman vacated that order in part following ASCON’s claims of suppression, non-disclosure and material misrepresentation of facts against Stanbic IBTC, which the bank resisted.

Before the July 24 ruling, and in seeking to recover its property, ASCON had written to Stanbic IBTC, through its Managing Director, Demola Shogunle, stating that its outstanding indebtedness was now available and that ASCON was ready to make the payment subject to an audit of its account.

But the bank, it was learnt, declined, stating that the property had been sold. It also declined ASCON’s requests for details of the expedited process of the transaction or evidence of any cash movement by which the property was purportedly conveyed to Rain Oil.

However, on May 27, 2020, ASCON approached the court to set aside its earlier orders and to nullify all steps taken pursuant to the orders.

It argued, among others, that since ASCON was not initially allowed to make its own case meant it was denied the right to fair hearing.

On July 24, 2020, Justice Liman, agreed that the Receiver erred in law to have brought his application for the orders, ex-parte and that ASCON should have been put on notice.

The court consequently discharged its earlier order of May 15, 2020 restraining ASCON from preventing the activities of the Receiver. Thus, the order preventing the oil retailer from resisting the activities of the Receiver was vacated.

ASCON had alleged in its motion on notice, that the purported Deed of Legal Mortgage dated June 5, 2019, through which Stanbic IBTC derived its right or power to either appoint a Receiver or sell the property was a forgery. “At the time the Deed of Legal Mortgage was purportedly executed, ASCON had by letters of May 28 and 31 2018, protested the inclusion of the property for perfection. Thus, ASCON could not have executed a Deed of Legal Mortgage over the same property,” the document averred.

It also alleged that forensic analysis of the purported Deed of Legal Mortgage revealed significant inconsistencies as two supposed signatures, were materially different from their regular signatures and the signature page of the purported Deed of Legal Mortgage is a counterpart copy of previously executed Deeds of Legal Mortgage.

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