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N5b debt: Ecobank moves to sell Oba Akinruntan’s Abuja hotel

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N5b debt: Ecobank moves to sell Oba Akinruntan's Abuja hotel
Oba Fredrick Akinruntan

These are not the best of times for Oba Fredrick Akinruntan, the Olugbo Of Ùgbó Kingdom in Ilaje, Ondo State, as the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jabi, Abuja, will on April 9 hear an application by Ecobank Nigeria Limited for an order authorising it to sell an Abuja hotel belonging to Obat Oil and Petroleum Limited, owned by the monarch.

The bank said it agreed with Obat Oil, which belongs to Oba Akinruntan, to sell the hotel.

It is to offset N5 billion debt owed the bank by the firm.

The hotel, Febson Hotels & Malls, is on Plot 2425 on Herbert Macaulay Way in Abuja.

Justice Hassan Babangida had adjourned to enable the parties to settle, but Obat’s lawyer, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), said “not much had been achieved” in the settlement talks.

The bank’s lawyer, Mr Kunle Ogunba (SAN) of Insolvency Forte, said the talks had broken down completely.

He added that he was yet to receive any correspondence or document on an out-of-court settlement.

The bank, in its last October 18 motion, said the agreement to offset the N5 billion debt, is contained in a consent judgment of a Lagos High Court delivered on March 15, 2017.

It said the agreement between it and Obat Oil was adopted by the court as its judgment.
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The bank, however, said despite the registered consent judgment, Obat Oil prevented potential buyers from paying for the hotel by demanding unrealistic sums.

But Obat Oil, in its counter-affidavit, said the bank, in an April 5, 2017 letter, assigned its rights and interests in the case to a third party, ETI Specialised Finance Company Limited, which is Ecobank Group’s debt recovery vehicle.

The oil company accused the bank of concealing the fact before the court.

The respondent contended that by the alleged concealment, the bank “no longer had any right or interest in the judgment-debt sought to be enforced before the honourable court”.

Justice Babangida fixed April 9 for definite hearing but noted that parties were at liberty to settle.

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