The Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed an application by Petro Union Oil and Gas Company to enforce a £2.550 billion judgement delivered on the 11th of March 2014 against the Central Bank of Nigeria, Union Bank, the Ministry of Finance, and the Attorney-General of the Federation jointly and severally. This application by Petro Union and its officials sought to enforce the erstwhile judgement against Union Bank even as the appeals of Union Bank, CBN and the Attorney-General of the Federation remains pending at the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal respectively. The criminal trial of Petro Union and its directors at the Federal High Court for sundry criminal offences including fraud, forgery, and uttering is also ongoing
Together with interest, the judgement which Petro Union attempted to enforce before their efforts were frustrated by today’s judgement, amounts to over $15 billion – which equates to about half of Nigeria’s current foreign reserves.
On the June 18 , 2021, Petro Union had approached the Federal High Court through a motion ex-parte seeking an order of interim injunction to restrain Union Bank from accepting, or offering for sale its assets, in any manner – pending the determination of the Motion on Notice filed in the suit and an order directing maintenance of status quo and suspension of all actions, proceedings and processes relating to the intended sale of Union Bank’s assets – pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice already filed in the suit of which the Court granted the Motion Ex Parte.
Upon being served the Order Ex-Parte, Union Bank, through its lawyers, Olaniwun Ajayi LP, filed an application to set aside the Order Ex-Parte and also filed other processes in opposition to the Motion on Notice filed by Petro Union asking the Court to make the interim order permanent. Union Bank argued that a litigant cannot prevent a shareholder of a company with which it is involved in litigation from selling its shares, and that such an action by a shareholder cannot be imputed to the company. It was further argued that the judgement, which formed the basis of the suit was obtained by fraud, as an appeal against the judgement was pending at the Supreme Court, where an application for stay of execution was also pending, and that Petro Union and its directors were standing trial for fraud-related offences before the same Court.
In its judgement, the Federal High Court, presided over by Justice Osiagor, quoted paragraph 2 of the publication by Bloomberg.