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Billionaire Tonye Cole’s Sahara Energy Declared Bankrupt Over N15b Debt



Billionaire Tonye Cole, the River State born boardroom colossus might be experiencing a business downturn for the second time if information at our disposal is anything to go by. The business mogul whose turnaround story was a prayer point to unfortunate entrepreneurs is in trouble again, and this much Enquirermag can reveal.

The man who’s believed to have always been unfortunate went bankrupt in 1998 after he and his business partners invested money into an oil transaction that was cancelled by the incoming administration in Nigeria after the military ruler, Sani Abacha died. He later made it big again and was estimated to be sitting on an oil conglomerate that’s worth $1.4 billion, according to Wealth-X. 

But today, 20 years after his bankruptcy story, Tonye Cole’s Sahara Energy is in another deep mess of a whopping N15b (Fifteen Billion Naira only) debt.

According to informed sources, a federal high court sitting in Abuja, the federal capital territory of Nigeria has favoured a winding up petition filed by United Bank for Africa Plc, UBA against a limited liability company, Kepco Energy Resources Nigeria Limited with registered NO.: (RC 6900064) over the inability of the company to pay a debt of N15,221,674,976. In its ruling, the court has ordered that the winding up notice be advertised in the Federal Gazette and in one other National Daily Newspaper. 

 The order of the court was sequel to an application filed and argued before the court by Barrister Temilolu Adamolekun, in a winding up petition filed before the court, it was alleged that Kepco Energy Resources Nigeria Limited of 14, Colorado Street, Maitama Abuja, Nigeria which is into the business of new electricity distribution, metropolitan electricity search, energy and power generation was desirous of raising capital requirement to fund the acquisition of 70% share of the Egbin Power Plant located at Egbin, Lagos state. 

 To actualise the acquisition, the company had approached several banks for credit facilities and was bailed out by United bank for Africa to the tune of $35m (Thirty Five Million Dollars) United States Dollars in August, 2013.

As part of the security for the credit facilities granted to the company, another company, Sahara Energy Resources Limited owned by billionaire Tonye Cole executed a sponsor Guarantee Assurances Deed wherein Sahara stood as a corporate Guarantor and undertook to irrevocably and unconditionally pay the bank any unpaid balances /sums owed the bank. 

 As at the 31st of December 2018, the indebtedness of the company to UBA stood at $42, 282,430,49 which is equivalent to N15,221,674,976.

The bank has made several demands on the company to pay it’s debt but to no avail. The company is insolvent and unable to pay its debt. In the circumstances, it is just and equitable that the company be wound up. 

Consequently, Mr. Adamolekun urged the court to grant an order for the advertisement of the petition, as it is imperative that the petition is brought to the notice of all persons desiring to be joined as parties. 

In his ruling, the presiding Judge, Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo after listening to the submission of Mr. Adamolekun ordered that the petition against Kepco Energy Resources Company be advertised in the Federal Gazette, in one National Daily Newspaper and one other Newspaper circulating within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja where the registered office or principal place of business of the company situates.

Thereafter, Justice Ekwo adjourned till 27th of June 2019 for report of compliance. 

In a related development, a federal high court sitting in Lagos south West Nigeria had earlier ordered that a winding up petition filed by Barrister Adamolekun on behalf of UBA against Sahara Energy Resources limited, the guarantor of the said loan granted to Kepco Energy Resources Nigeria Limited be advertised, in the Federal Gazette, and one National Daily  Newspaper due to the failure of the company to meet its obligation to the bank, in respect of the loan it guaranteed. The petition had since been advertised. 

Jite Usman

Culled @enquier magazine