Access Bank vs. Seplat: Of subterfuge and corporate brutality
The theatre of the absurd in the Access Bank Vs. Seplat Petroleum Development Company matter, which resulted in the sealing up of the building that houses Seplat’s head office for the most illogical reasons, should worry every patriotic Nigerian. Even the sealed building does not belong to the company.
Cardinal Drilling Services obtained the facility from Diamond Bank (now Access Bank) to purchase the CDS Rigs 101, 201, 202, and 203. The Facility was secured by a fixed and floating Debenture over Cardinal’s assets (the “Debenture”). Since Cardinal Drilling was unable to service the outstanding part of the facility, which Access Bank claimed to be US$85.8 million, the bank activated Clause 6 of the Deed of Debenture, which allows it to appoint a Receiver/Manager over Cardinal’s assets.
Nobody would have faulted Access Bank if it had stopped at that. However, the bank, in a most puzzling move, equally listed Seplat and its Chairman, Dr. A.B.C Orjiako, as co-defendants in the litigation for the untenable reason that two of Cardinal Drilling Services rigs (CDS 101 and 201) were deployed into 2019 Seplat’s operations, while all the four rigs purchased with the loan were very critical to Seplat’s future drilling plans. The bank, in its court filing, also claimed that Seplat and Cardinal Drilling Services had close ties, saying that “Seplat is a sister company to Cardinal, jointly promoted by Orjiako who is the alter ego of the two companies”. It added that “Seplat is in fact the ‘real debtor’ while Cardinal is merely a ‘vehicle smokescreen’ for the purposes of the subtle obtainment of credit facilities by Seplat”.
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