Unpaid debt: Fuel supplier asks court to halt Lagos BRT operations

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

In an action marked FHC/L/CP/1702/20, brought before the court pursuant to Order 19, Rule 1, of the Company Winding-Up Rules 2001, Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited sought leave of the court to announce the liquidation of Primero petition in newspapers of general circulation.

The claimant said his claim in court arose out of Primero’s alleged failure and continued non-payment of a debt of N63,466,000.00.

The Petition and Verification Affidavit in Support of the Petition filed by Chief Financial Officer Taiwo Abiodun stated that between the months of January 2019 and January 2020, at the request of the Respondent, the Petitioner conducted a supply of automated diesel fuel, lubricating oil and gear oil worth N174,046 million, and that the supply was made on credit on the agreement that the defendant would pay N10 million , as a deposit before delivery and payment of the balance 30 days after the invoice date.

The CFO stated that Petrocam provided the automated diesel as agreed, however, contrary to the parties’ agreement, the Primero did not make payment to the claimant.

He said 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 debt amounting to N113,446,000 million, and that to Upon receipt of the letters, the Respondent only paid a paltry sum of 1,866 million Naira, 28.114 million Naira and 20 million Naira, leaving the sum of 63.466 million Naira outstanding.

The Claimant’s CFO said however that when it became apparent that the Respondent was unwilling to pay the outstanding amount of N63.466 million, the Claimant, Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited, filed a lawsuit marked as FHC/L/ CP/1239/20 against the Respondent but this was discontinued with a promise from the Respondent to pay the full amount outstanding by November 6, 2020, but the Respondent has, despite receipt of said letter , omitted and/or neglected to access it.

He stated that the Respondent, having made full use of the products and despite several persistent requests from the Applicant, the Respondent deliberately omitted, refused and/or neglected to reimburse the sums due to the Applicant.

Regarding the need for authorization to announce the liquidation of Primero Transport Service Limited, the Chief Financial Officer stated that the petitioner as such had petitioned for the liquidation of the respondent’s company on the grounds that it was not unable to pay the debt due, after it had become due and the Applicant had given formal notice to pay the said debt.

He also stated that the Respondent had in no way denied his debt to the Applicant. But it had become insolvent and therefore unable to pay its debt, because more than 21 days had passed and the company had not made the payment as requested in the petitioner’s several letters of formal notice dated May 14, 2020, June 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020 respectively, adding that the requested amount exceeds N200,000,00.

He also alleged that under sections 571(d) and 572(a) of the Companies and Related Matters Act 2020, Primero Transport Services Limited had demonstrated an inability to pay its debts contrary to sections 571 and 572 of companies law and related matters. 2020.

He therefore requested the court to declare the liquidation of Primero Transport Services Limited under the provisions of the Companies and Related Matters Act.

However, the BRT operator asked the court to dismiss the judicial liquidation action against it on the grounds that the debt referred to by the Applicant was non-existent.

Primero, in his counter affidavit filed by attorney, Mejulu Henry of Hawkes Legal, said the petitioner was centered on an obligation to pay money pursuant to the supply of automated diesel, gear oil and other petroleum additives between the parties.

Mejulu stated that he was aware that the Respondent, since the beginning of its commercial relationship with the Claimant, had always benefited from a credit relationship due to the volumes/orders requested from the Claimant.

Meanwhile, Judge Lewis Allagoa has set February 25 for the hearing of the suit.

Judge Allagoa set the date after lawyers for the parties told the court on January 18, 2022 that all efforts to reach an amicable settlement of the debt had failed.

The plaintiff’s attorney, Tokunbo Davis of Kemi Pinheiro LP, told the court that the parties had tried to resolve the case, but those moves had failed.

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