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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Petrocam Asks Court To Liquidate BRT Operator Primero Over Alleged N63.4m Debt

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An indigenous petroleum company, Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited, has asked a Federal High Court, Lagos to wind-up Primero Transport Service Limited, the operators of Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) over alleged indebtedness.

The claimant, in a suit marked FHC/L/CP/1702/20, brought pursuant to Order 19, Rule 1, of the Company Winding-Up Rules 2001, and under the Court’s inherent jurisdiction, is asking for the leave of the court to advertise the Primero’s winding up petition in the Gazette and in any other widely circulating newspaper.

The claimant stated that its request before the court is sequel to Primero’s failure to pay the debt of N63, 466,000.

In the affidavit in support of the petition deposed to by its Financial Manager, Taiwo Abiodun, stated that sometime between January 2019 and January 2020, upon the request of the respondent, the petitioner made a supply of automated gas oil, lubricant oil and gear oil worth the sum of N174,046,000 and that the supply was made on credit on the agreement that the respondent will pay N10 million, as advanced payment before the delivery and balance 30 days after invoice date.

Abiodun swore that Petrocam supplied the Automated Gas Oil as agreed however, contrary to the agreement of the parties, Primero failed to make payment to the claimant.

He stated that when respondent failed and refused to pay the money as agreed, several letters were written to it to liquidate its outstanding indebtedness in the sum of N113, 446, 000 million, and that upon receipt of the letters, respondent only paid a paltry sum of N1.86 million, N28.114 million and N20 million, leaving the sum of N63.466 million, outstanding.

The deponent averred that when it became glaring that the respondent did not want to pay the outstanding of N63.46 million, the petitioner, filed suit marked FHC/L/CP/1239/20 against it but same was discontinued with a promise by the respondent to pay the total outstanding sum by November 6, 2020, adding that the respondent has despite receipt of the said letter failed and or neglected to accede to same.

He deposed that the respondent, having fully utilised the products and despite several and persistent demands by the petitioner, willfully failed, refused and/or neglected to repay the outstanding sums due to the petitioner needs to be wound up.

On the need for leave to advertise the winding-up the deponent averred that it is based on the ground that it is unable to pay the debt owed, after same has become due and the petitioner has made a formal demand for the payment of the said debt.

The deponent added that the respondent has not in any way whatsoever denied its indebtedness to the Petitioner.

“But it has become insolvent and, therefore, unable to pay its debt, because it is more than 21 days and the company has not made the payment as demanded in the petitioner’s several letters of demand dated May, 14, 2020, June 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020 respectively,” he averred, adding that the amount demanded exceeds N200, 000.

He also swore that pursuant to sections 571 (d) and 572 (a) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020, the respondent has shown its incapacity to pay its debts.

He, therefore, urged the court to declare that the respondent be wound up under the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act.

However, the BRT operator has asked the court to dismiss the winding-up suit on the ground that the debt is a nonexistent.

Primero in its counter-affidavit deposed to by a legal practitioner, Henry Mejulu swore that the issue borders on an obligation to pay money pursuant to supply of Automated Gas Oil, Gear oil and other oil additives between parties.

Mejulu averred that he was aware that the respondent, since the commencement of their business relationship with the petitioner, has always enjoyed a credit relationship as a result of the volumes/orders requested from the petitioner.

The deponent stated that the respondent is not indebted to the petitioner in the sum of N63.46 million, adding that between January 20 and 22, 2021, the respondent had made further payments of the sum of N64 million, which is far in excess of the debt claimed by the petitioner.

The deponent, swore that the respondent is not insolvent and is in a position to pay its debts. Mejulu also claimed that the petitioner’s petition was mainly to paralyse the respondent’s businesses and severely injure its reputation and corporate image.

Meanwhile, Justice Lewis Allagoa has fixed February 25, for hearing of the suit. Justice Allagoa fixed the date after counsel to the parties, told the court on January 18, 2022, that all efforts to reach an amicable settlement of the debt had broken down.

Petitioner’s counsel, Tokunbo Davis, told the court that parties had attempted to resolve but such moves had collapsed.

Responding, Mejulu told the court that parties have not closed the window for settlement. Mejulu asked the court for a short adjournment for the respondent, to regularise its position.

In 2021 the NGX List Primero Plc’s debut fixed income offering – the Primero BRT Securitization SPV Plc bond valued at N16.5 billion.

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