Exclusive: Access Bank Goes After Late Sunny Odogwu’s Properties over 50b debt….
…..Insists on collecting every penny of depositors money owed it by Recalcitrant debtors!
The no nonsense managers of Access Bank led by Hubert Wigwe has gone after the properties of Late Chief Sony Odogu over a debt of 50Billion Naira.
We gathered reliably that the debt was originally over 26Billion but since 2015, it has spiral up to 50Billion and the managers of the bank have commenced the process of getting every penny of the depositor’s funds from the Late Socialite family.
For some time now, the families have been playing hide and seek with the bank but at the weekend the bank move to seize some of the assets in Ikoyi Lagos.
Access Bank Plc last week commenced the process of recovering the outstanding sums due it from a total of over N50 billion judgment debts in its favor against the late Chief Sunny Odogwu and two of his companies – Robert Dyson & Diket Limited and SIO Property Limited.
The said judgment debt was in respect of a property situated on No. 31 – 35, Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos State, known as Luxury Collection Hotels and Apartments (formerly Le Meridien Grand Towers).
The said property owned by SIO Property Limited of which the late Odogwu was the majority shareholder, was financed with a loan from the then Diamond Bank, which is now Access Bank.
Justice Saliu Saidu of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court in suit number: FHC/L/CS/1633/14, had in November 3, 2015, found the late Odogwu and his companies guilty of breach of Bank-Customer Relationship and consequently ordered the sale of the property used as collateral for the loan sum of N26,229,943,035.22.
However, with a 20 per cent interest on the N26 billion judgment debt in the last six years the judgment was delivered, the total debt has now reason to over N50 billion.
The bank had in 2014, commenced legal action against the defendants at a Federal High Court, Lagos, following the failure of the defendants to meet their loan obligations granted in the financing of the Le Meridien Grand Towers, known as Luxury Collection Hotels and Apartments.
While Access Bank was the sole plaintiff; Robert Dyson & Diket Limited, SIO Property Limited, Odogwu, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) the Registrar of Title Federal Land Registry and Leadway Trustee Limited were the first to sixth defendants respectively.
Plaintiff in arguing its case had placed plethora of evidence before the court on how it granted various credit facilities to the 1st and 2nd defendants to finance the construction of the Luxury Collection Hotels and Apartments.
Plaintiff added that the various facilities were at various times restructured to ease the repayment of the loan facility but the 1st to 3rd defendants continue to refused or failed to meet their obligations, stating that the project site located at 31-35 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos and the Personal Guarantee of the late Chief Sonny Odogwu were used as collaterals for the facility.
Among the 20 reliefs sought by the plaintiff then was that whether having regards to plaintiff’s colossal investment/ financing of the sum of N26 billion in the 1st to 3rd defendants project and by the various agreements entered between plaintiff and the 1st to 3rd defendants to create a legal mortgage in favour of the plaintiff, a beneficial owner of the property on No 31 – 35 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos State, and the breach of the terms of the agreement by the 1st to 3rd defendants, the plaintiff is entitled to leave of court to foreclose and sell the affected property.
“Whether having regard to the failure, refusal and or neglect of the 3rd defendant to execute the deed of personal guarantee as agreed as agreed with the plaintiff on November 19, 2010 as part security of the cumulative sum of facility advanced to the 1st to 3rd defendants for the project at 31 -35 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos State which now stands at N26 billion as at September 30, 2014, order an order of specific performance can be made to compel the 3rd defendant to execute the said deed of personal guarantee in favour of the plaintiff within two days of this court.”
Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Saidu held that the first to third defendants were in fundamental breach of the contract for the financing of the construction of the Luxury Collection Hotels and Apartments, having admitted “Indebtedness to the plaintiff in the sum of N10, 252,315,567.28 on the project finance facility as at December 20, 2011.”
The judge stated that where there was an admission of indebtedness by a party, the court could make an order for the sum admitted to be paid.
“The following is very clear from the totality of evidence before me; that there are facilities granted and disbursed….the facts of these facilities were admitted in paragraphs 8, 10, 11, 13,14, 15, 16 and 17 of the counter affidavit.
“I have not seen anywhere in the pleadings of the 1st to 3rd defendants that they did not enter the contract as shown in exhibit DB3 with the agreed collateral being a third-party legal mortgage on the parcel of land located at No 31 – 35 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos State”, the court held.
In addition, the judge said the first to third defendants have not produced before the court any evidence that any of the conditions for the grant of the facility was waived or demonstrated to the court how they liquidated their indebtedness.
“With all the facts before me, I am satisfied that the first to third defendants who have admitted indebtedness has not shown how the indebtedness was liquidated.
“There are four probable methods of answering an allegation of indebtedness which are to admit the debt, deny the debt, to counter-claim against the debt and to set off against the debt. From all the facts before me the 1st to 3rd defendants have only admitted the debt but have not shown how the admitted indebtedness was liquidated.
“When the 1st to 3rd defendants have failed to liquidate their debt, the court has a duty the duty to order specific performance on the part of the 1st to 3rd defendants to honour their pledge in the contract. The 3rd defendant had through the 2nd defendant pledged to execute a third-party legal mortgage in favour of the plaintiff as shown in the documentary evidence before this court.
“This court therefore has the power to grant an equitable relief of specific performance against the 1st to 3rd defendants to do what they have agreed to do by the contract”, he added.
Justice Saidu accordingly made the following consequential order: “Judgment is entered in the sum of N26, 229,943,035.22 jointly and severally against the 1st to 3rd defendants being the outstanding sum as at September 30, 2014 advanced by the plaintiff for the 1st to 3rd defendants project which sum has remained unpaid despite several demands.
“That leave is granted to the plaintiff to foreclose and sell the said property situated at 31 – 35 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos and to deposit the proceed of the sales into the 1st defendant’s account kept with the plaintiff towards the partial satisfaction of the judgment sum against the 1st to 3rd defendants.
“That leave is granted the plaintiff with the supervision of the Court’s Registrar to sell property situated at No 31 – 35 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos being the security for the sum of N26, 229,943,035.22 advanced by the plaintiff to the 1st to 3rd defendants for the development of the project called Luxury Collections Hotels and Apartments, the repayment of which facility, the 1st to 3rd defendants have failed, refuse otherwise neglected to make despite several demands.
“The 3rd defendant is hereby ordered to execute the said deed of personal guarantee of the sum of N26, 229,943,035.22 in favour of the plaintiff within 30 days of the judgment of this court.”
The judge in addition restrained the 3rd defendant from disposing, selling or alienating any of his personal assets, money, shares, stock and any of his negotiable instruments until the sum of N26, 229,943,035.22 owed to the plaintiff by the 1st to 3rd defendants is fully paid.
The court also ordered the sixth defendant to pay to the plaintiff the sum of N49 million being money it had and recovered for a consideration that as failed.
The sixth defendant was further ordered to surrender all the title documents in its custody in relation to the said property and other documentation connected and or pertaining to the extant transaction of which the plaintiff is the beneficiary.
Not satisfied with the Judgment of the Court, the Defendants appealed to the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/L/1151/2015, but while the case was pending at the Court of Appeal, the late Chief Sonny Odogwu died, and his numerous children attempted to dissipate the various assets charged to the bank including the property located at 31-35 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos that the Court has ordered to be sold.
The bank was constrained to takes steps to restrain the beneficiaries of the estate of the late Odogwu from dissipating the various assets acquired by depositors’ funds which ultimately led to settlement discussions between the Bank and the beneficiaries of the estate of the late Sonny Odogwu and subsequent execution of Settlement Agreements.
Rather than comply with the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the beneficiaries of the estate and children of late Odogwu have willfully and persistently refused to comply with the terms of settlement reached with the Bank. They have resorted to dissipating the assets which were pledged to the Bank and have breached the consent judgment made by the Federal High Court.
For instance, under the consent judgment, the defendants were required to sell the property in Los Angeles, USA within 60 days from 30th of May, 2019 or otherwise assign their interest in the property to the Bank. The defendants have failed to meet this condition and have rather compromised their interest in the property without regards to the consent judgment.
Subsequently, the bank as beneficial owner under the Judgment has taken steps to sell the property situate at 31-35 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos to a new owner.
Unfortunately, the beneficiaries of the estate of the late Odogwu and other unknown persons who have been parading the property have promised to disrupt any takeover of the property.
Based on the foregoing and in order to safe guard depositors’ funds, the bank is determined to recover the outstanding sums due from the defendants and enforce the judgment of the Federal High Court.
Emirates invests over US$ 2 billion to enhance on-board customer experience
Emirates invests over US$ 2 billion to enhance on-board customer experience
Emirates is investing over US$ 2 billion to enhance its inflight customer experience, including a massive programme to retrofit over 120 aircraft with the latest interiors, plus an array of other service improvements across all cabins starting in 2022. Emirates is still flying on its brand promise of ‘Fly Better.’
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “While others respond to industry pressures with cost cuts, Emirates is flying against the grain and investing to deliver ever better experiences to our customers. Through the pandemic we’ve continued to launch new services and initiatives to ensure our customers travel with the assurance and ease, including digital initiatives to improve customer experiences on the ground. Now we’re rolling out a series of intensive programmes to take Emirates’ signature inflight experiences to the next level.”
Some of Emirates’ latest initiatives include: elevated meal choices, a brand new vegan menu, a ‘cinema in the sky’ experience, cabin interior upgrades, sustainable choices and a generous approach to the little touches that make travel memorable.
Starting from August, Emirates’ passengers can look forward to an award-winning team of chefs, a world-class catering team and a wide variety of suppliers have been assembled to design and deliver the best fine dining experience in the sky.
Emirates’ new vegan menu is also carefully curated to cater to the growing numbers of customers pursuing this thoughtful lifestyle. Vegans, or anyone interested in a delicious and healthy plant-based meal, will enjoy handcrafted gourmet dishes such as pan-roasted king oyster mushrooms, flavoursome jackfruit biryani and sliced kohlrabi garnished with burnt orange.
The Champagne and Caviar Experience is also being elevated. Emirates’ First Class experience, always a benchmark for service excellence, has been upped a notch in 2022. Customers can now savour unlimited portions of Persian caviar as part of the ‘dine on demand’ service, with an exquisite pairing of the world-renowned Dom Perignon vintage champagne. Emirates is the only airline with an exclusive agreement to offer the luxury brand on-board.
Cinema in the Sky will soar to new heights. First Class customers can create a memorable movie moment on-board by ordering cinema snacks as they enjoy the 5,000 channels on Emirates’ ice inflight entertainment system. All passengers can also curate their own ice experience before their flight, simply by browsing and pre-selecting movies or TV shows on the Emirates app, which can then be synced to ice the moment they board, maximising the seamless travel experience.
Emirates’ customers departing on flights from Dubai can begin crunching on fresh greens harvested from Bustanica, the world’s largest vertical farm and newly-opened US$40 million joint venture investment through Emirates Flight Catering. Emirates is continuing to invest in sustainable operations and supply chains, seeking local food suppliers and farms wherever possible to serve the freshest produce on board.
Additionally, Emirates has partnered with Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, one of the world’s top hospitality management schools, to craft the Emirates Hospitality strategy and encourage inspiring customer experiences. Emirates Cabin Crew have already begun engaging in intensive training programmes focused on delivering the four service pillars: Excellence, Attentiveness, Innovation and Passion.
The most significant investment is an extensive and record-breaking refurbishment of the aircraft fleet interiors, where cabins will be retrofitted with new or reupholstered seats, new panelling, flooring and other cabin features. Benefitting all Emirates passengers, every cabin class will be refreshed and new Premium Economy cabins installed.
After the retrofit, Emirates will have a total of 120 aircraft offering Premium Economy seats – the only airline in the region to offer this cabin class, and enhanced interiors and features across all other cabins. With its first aircraft scheduled to roll into the Emirates Engineering Centre for retrofitting in November, planning work and trials have begun in earnest.
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Fuel Subsidy: Nigeria Faces Existential Threat- World bank
Fuel Subsidy: Nigeria Faces Existential Threat- World bank
The World Bank on Wednesday raised the alarm that Nigeria might be facing an existential threat.
The warning comes in the wake of Nigeria’s dwindling revenue, the continued payment of trillions of naira on fuel subsidy by the government and the attendant economic challenges it has brought.
The international financial institution warned that if the country failed to optimise its tax system and focus on other areas to boost its revenue, the already low revenue would continue to drop. It noted that despite the rise in the price of oil in the international market, Nigeria had not reaped the benefits because of the huge amount spent on fuel subsidy.
The Senior Public Sector Specialist, Domestic Resource Mobilisation, at the World Bank, Mr Rajul Awasthi, said these at a virtual pre-summit, with the theme ‘Critical Tax Reforms for Shared Prosperity’, organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group on Wednesday. He insisted Nigeria would have to eliminate the subsidy regime eventually.
After the Federal Government earmarked about N4tn for subsidy payment in 2022, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said recently that government might spend a whopping N6.72tn as fuel subsidy in 2023 or pay N3.36tn up to mid-2023 if the subsidy regime would was to end in May 2023.
Also, the minister had consistently said the nation was battling with revenue problems, which had compelled the government to keep borrowing. The debt stock had risen to N41.6tn in the first quarter of 2022 with projections that it could peak at N45tn by the end of the year. Nigeria is rated the fifth on the list of the World Bank’s debtors, with $11.7bn debt stock as of June 30, 2021.
The International Monetary Fund had in March projected that Nigeria might spend 93 per cent of its revenue on debt servicing in 2022, but the minister disclosed a few weeks ago that about 119 per cent of the country’s revenue was spent on debt servicing. This implied that government had to borrow to meet its debt financing obligations, a development many economists had described as disturbing and unsustainable.
The virtual event, anchored by the PwC’s Fiscal Policy Partner and Thematic Lead, NESG Fiscal Policy and Planning Thematic Group, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, was attended by several stakeholders, including the representative of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and the Executive Secretary of the Joint Tax Board, Mrs Nana-Aisha Obomeghie.
Meanwhile, in a slide he shared during his presentation, which showed Nigeria’s Development Update, Awasthi explained that between 2015 and 2019, Nigeria’s non-oil revenues were among the lowest in the world and as a result the second lowest in spending, and that oil revenues were also falling even when oil prices were higher.
He stated, “Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and the largest country in Africa by population, so it is critical to Africa’s progress. There is no doubt about that. But the government of Nigeria, from the public finance perspective, is really facing an existential threat. Let’s not downplay the situation. That is the actual reality.
“Nigeria is 115th out of 115 countries in terms of the average revenue to Gross Domestic Product ratio. Despite the oil prices rising the way they have been, net oil and gas revenues have been coming down because of the tremendous impact of the subsidy.
“So, what is going to happen in 2022? The federation’s revenues are going to be significantly lower. They are already very low, and Nigeria is already the lowest in the world out of 115 large countries and this year, it’s really going to be lower than what it was in 2020 because of the debilitating impact of fuel subsidy.”
On the perennial low revenue from tax in Nigeria, a former Finance Minister and Ahmed’s predecessor, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, had in 2017 revealed that only 214 persons in Nigeria paid N20m and above as tax and that most active taxpayers in the country were people whose PAYE were deducted from source. She had also decried the low tax to GDP ratio at about six per cent, which she described as the lowest in the world and far below the 18 per cent average on the continent.
Speaking on how to get out of the woods, Awasthi stated that in the non-oil sector, Value Added Tax compliance gaps were immense and they needed to be breached as well as rationalise tax expenditures.
Citing the tax expenditure statement of the Budget Office in 2020, he said, “The VAT gap in 2019 was over N3.1tn whereas the collection was N1.2tn. Of that gap, about two-thirds, which is about N2tn, came from compliance gaps. That’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed. It’s because of this that we have a low tax base and a lot of people feel they are being overtaxed.”
He also stressed the need for technology deployment in tax administration and data sharing between the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the states’ Internal revenue services to boost the revenue from personal income tax. He also called for an increase in the tax levied on certain goods, like wine, cigarettes and beer.
He added, “Property taxes at the state and local government levels are also critical. Nigeria has a tremendous potential, with about 50 million households, taxable properties and there are many rich people who need to be paying property taxes. There is a tremendous opportunity there.
“Also, I think there is a huge opportunity to raise excise on goods like beer, wine, spirit and cigarettes. There is a very tiny tax that has been introduced on them and this could be higher. These are the kinds of things that across the world there is a consensus that these rates should be higher because they are supposed to attack and address negative externalities of these products.
“There is also a need to reform the fuel subsidy regime, moving towards its full elimination at least by 2024. Nigeria needs to roll back the PMC subsidies and adopt the free market price. This is critical for this country. There is also the need to improve revenue from cross-border transactions and other international tax measures.”
While calling for increased enlightenment of the taxpayers, which he said the World Bank was collaborating with the World Bank to achieve, he noted that tax laws needed to be modernised and strengthened for a better outcome.
He added, “Going forward, the approach to revenue mobilisation has to be more strategic. We need to be more strategic and it’s not just about taxing more, Nigeria needs to tax better. We need to review the collection system and not just about what to collect and from who. There have been discussions about how the tax system has to be progressive and efficient in terms of compliance and making sure we are targeting the right tax bases.”
In his submission, the Director-General of MAN, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadiri, represented by the Director of Mr Oluwasegun Osidipe, said there was no doubt that the country needed money but that the government must exercise caution in introducing more taxes.
He tasked the government to expand the tax base, ensure the inclusion of more people in the informal sector and make the tax system progressive such that the rich would pay more than the poor.
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