Ecobank : Court Order Against Vigeo Raises Concerns Among Business Stakeholders

Mr Victor Gbolade Osibodu, Chairman Vigeo Group.

Mr Victor Gbolade Osibodu, Chairman Vigeo Group.

The order of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos issued on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 restraining the Vigeo Group and its Chairman, from operating its accounts over indebtedness to Ecobank Nigeria Limited has continued to generate reactions among business stakeholders in the country.

Businessmen who spoke to our reporter, expressed surprise over the court order, raising some fundamental questions on the methodology especially since it is expected that such multi -million dollar facilities will have tangible securities.

Recall that a banker at Ecobank Plc, Adeniran Ojora had deposed to an affidavit filed before Justice Saliu Saidu of Federal High court by a Law Firm of Simmons Cooper Partners.

Ecobank claimed in the affidavit that, “ by a term loan facility dated August 1, 2008 and duly executed by the bank and Vigeo Limited ….. towards financing , in addition to the legal Mortgage over the company and the personal guarantee…” The legal mortgage means that there are assets involved.

“However, upon payment of the amount realised from the sale of the shares the company’s outstanding indebtedness reduced.

Meanwhile, Uchenna Emmanuel, a Lagos-based businessman who spoke with our correspondent last Thursday on the matter sought to know why personal guarantee was liquidated when the legal mortage collateral for the loan can be recovered.

“ Yes, I read the court order in the news and the affidavit deposed by Ecobank PLC.  First, it was not clear who Ecobank gave the alleged facility; Vigeo Company or the Chairman because both are separate legal entities.

Secondly, since there was legal mortgage as collateral why is not selling the security to recover the loan  before the bank sold the shares on the  personal guarantee

“I think there is more to this matter than what the Bank wants the public to believe. I am a businessman, i often avail myself of bank facilities to do business. I have never heard in my 25 years of dealing with banks that collateral used for loans would be left untouched, while a personal guarantee that was deposited as back up to the the collateral, will be liquidated by the bank. It’s a worrying development for corporates who depend on bank facilities for business purposes”.

The spokesman of Ecobank, Mr Austene Osokpo who was reached by COMPLETE NEWS to clarify the ambiguities in the bank’s affidavit against Vigeo Group and its chairman, declined to comment saying it could amount to contempt of the court.

“Dear Editor, we appreciate your reaching out to us on this issue. However, we are not able to make any comment on this issue as the matter is already in a court of competent jurisdiction. Any comment from us can be said to be a contempt of court”, Osokpor said in an email sent to COMPLETE NEWS on Friday, December 1, 2017.

The company and its Chairman has since appealed the ex-parte injunction and hearing is on.