Transparency And Trust Issues in Energy Sector :Court freezes accounts of Africa Plus Partners, Bastanchury Power Solutions, in 22 banks

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has frozen the accounts of Africa Plus Partners Nigeria Limited and Bastanchury Power Solutions Nigeria Limited in 22 Nigerian banks.

Justice Peter Lifu of the Federal High Court, Lagos placed “a no-debit order” on the accounts of the two companies who are operators of the Asaba Independent Power Plant, following complaints by shareholders over violations of the Companies & Allied Matters Act, CAMA and the way the company is being managed.

Justice Lifu specifically granted an order of Mareva Injunction restraining the banks from releasing or dealing in any manner whatsoever with any of the monies or assets due to the two defendants in any accounts maintained by them, their agents, privies, subsidiaries, or servants pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

The judge also restrained the defendants, their directors, agents or privies, and sister companies from transferring or dealing with any of the monies or properties standing to the credit of the defendants in any of the affected banks, as the powers of the signatories to any of the affected accounts in the said banks are at the moment suspended pending the hearing and determination of the motion on Notice.

The judge also directed all the affected banks to file and serve on the Plaintiff’s counsel within seven days of receipt of this order an Affidavit disclosing the balance of the Defendants’ accounts as at the date of receipt of this order.

Justice Lifu then adjourned the matter to March 20, 2023 for the hearing of the motion on notice.

In the main suit, the Plaintiffs -Frenchurch Energy Nig. Ltd, Funso Adeyemi and Femi Bakre of FENL through their Counsel- Adetunji Adedoyin-Adeniyi, Esq of AAA CHAMBERS are urging the court for an order directing a forensic audit by one of the big four accounting firms to comb and examine the books of the company and for a compulsory Annual General Meeting and Board Meeting to be held by the members and Directors of Bastanchury Power Solutions Nigeria Limited in compliance with the provisions of the Company and Allied Matters Act, 2020 (As Amended), not more than seven days from the date the Order of Court is made.

The plaintiffs are also asking the court for an order appointing an external and independent auditor to audit the accounting books and operations of the first and second Defendants on the ground that the second Defendant has unilaterally misappropriated and utilised the funds of the first Defendant to wit; Africa Infra Plus Fund {AIPF} to the exclusion of the first Plaintiff who is a substantial Shareholder in the first Defendant and the second and third Plaintiffs who remain Directors of the first Defendant as at the time of filing this suit.

The Plaintiffs are further seeking a Perpetual Injunction restraining the Defendants from selling, charging, mortgaging or otherwise encumbering in any way any of the assets, shares, funds or any of the first Defendant’s holdings on behalf of the first Defendant Company, all the assets which include landed properties belonging to Bastanchury Power Solutions Nigeria Limited until the final audit report of the accounting books and operations of the first Defendant is submitted to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court.

They are also seeking an order compelling FBNQUEST Trustees Limited and Stanbic IBTC Trustee Limited to disclose all the funds belonging to the first and second Defendants’ in their custody and funds about the first and second Defendants to determine the funds due to the Plaintiffs in this suit

In an affidavit filed in support of the Originating Summons, which was deposed to by the Plaintiffs, they averred that they filed the suit to enforce their rights as shareholders of Bastanchury Power Solutions Nigeria Limited since the Board of Directors of the company had failed to act.

The Plaintiffs also stated that they needed the Court to use its powers under the Companies and Allied Matters Act to look into the affairs of the first Defendant to ensure that excellent and proper corporate governance is enshrined, because if the Court does not intervene, the first Defendant, under the complete control of the second Defendant, might have dissipated the assets jointly owned by the Plaintiffs into its funds; Africa Infra Plus Fund {AIPF} which they do not have access to; without any means of recovering same.

They further claimed that the second Defendant, in the course of singlehandedly managing the affairs of the first Defendant to their exclusion, may have allegedly transferred funds belonging to the first Defendant into its funds, Africa Infra Plus Fund (AIPF), which they are not aware of.

The banks affected by the order are Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc, Citi Bank Nigeria Ltd, Ecobank Nigeria Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd, First City Monument Bank Plc, Globus Bank, Heritage bank Ltd, Jaiz Bank, Keystone Bank Ltd, Polaris Bank, Providus Bank.

Others are Stanbic IBTC Bank Nig Ltd, Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank Plc, Suntrust Bank Ltd, and Union Bank of Nig. Plc, United bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Wema Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc. (Channels TV)

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