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Unpaid Debt: Fuel Supplier Asks Court To Wind-Up Of Primero, BRT Operator

Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited has applied to a Federal High Court in Lagos for the winding-up of Primero Transport Service Limited, the operator of Bus Rapid Transport (BRT), over alleged indebtedness.

Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited in a suit marked FHC/L/CP/1702/20, brought before the court, pursuant to Order 19, Rule 1, of the Company Winding-Up Rules 2001, is asking for leave of court to advertise Primero’s winding up petition in the Gazette and in ThisDay Newspaper or Punch Newspaper or any other widely circulating newspaper.

The petitioner stated that its request before the court is sequel to Primero’s alleged failure and continued failure to pay a debt of N63,466,000.00.

The petition and verifying affidavit in support of the petition deposed to by Financial Manager, Taiwo Abiodun, stated that sometime between the months of 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 million, and that the supply was made on credit on the agreement that the Respondent would pay N10 million, as advance payment before the delivery and balance payment 30 days after invoice date.

The Financial Manager stated that Petrocam supplied the Automated Gas Oil as agreed, however, contrary to the agreement of the parties, the Primero failed to make payment to the Petitioner.

He stated that when Primero Transport Service Limited failed and refused to pay the money as agreed, several letters were written to Primero 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 N1,866 million, N28, 114 million and N20 million, leaving the sum of N63, 466 million, as outstanding.

The petitioner’s Financial Manager stated however that when it became glaring that the respondent did not want to pay the outstanding of N63, 466 million, the petitioner, Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited, instituted a Suit marked FHC/L/CP/1239/20 against the respondent but same was discontinued with a promise by the Respondent to pay the total outstanding sum by November 6, 2020, but the Respondent has, despite receipt of the said letter, failed and or neglected to accede to same.

He stated that the respondent, having fully utilized the products and despite several and persistent demands by the Petitioner, the Respondent has willfully failed, refused and/or neglected to repay the outstanding sums due to the Petitioner.

On the need for leave to advertise the Winding-Up of Primero Transport Service Limited, the Financial Manager stated that the Petitioner as such applied by petition for winding up of the Respondent’s Company on the ground that it was unable to pay the debt owed, after same had become due and the Petitioner had made a formal demand for the payment of the said debt.

He also stated that the Respondent had not in any way whatsoever denied its indebtedness to the Petitioner. But it had become insolvent and therefore unable to pay its debt, because it was more than 21 days and the company had 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, adding that the amount demanded exceeds N200, 000, 00.

He also alleged that Pursuant to Sections 571 (d) and 572 (a) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020, Primero Transport Services Limited had shown its incapacity to pay its debts contrary to Section 571 and 572 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020.

He therefore prayed the court to declare that Primero Transport Services Limited be wound up under the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act.

However, the BRT operator asked the court to dismiss the Winding-Up suit against it on the ground that the debt referred to by the Petitioner was a nonexistent.

Primero in its counter-affidavit deposed to by a legal practitioner, Mejulu Henry of Hawkes Legal, stated that the petitioner centered 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 had always enjoyed a credit relationship as a result of the volumes/orders requested from the petitioner.

The deponent stated that the respondent was not indebted to the petitioner in the sum of N63, 466 million, adding that between January 20 and 22, 2021, the respondent had made further payments of the sum of N64 Million which was far in excess of the debt claimed by the petitioner.

The deponent while arguing that the debt referred to by the Petitioner is nonexistent, stated that the respondent was not insolvent and was in a position to pay its debts.

Mejulu also averred 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 amicable settlement of the debt had broken down.

The petitioner’s counsel, Tokunbo Davis of Kemi Pinheiro LP, told the court that parties had attempted to resolve the matter but such moves had collapsed.

Responding, Mejulu told the court that parties had not closed the window for settlement.

Mejulu asked the court for a short adjournment for the respondent, to regularize it’s position.

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