STACO Insurance pays fine
OpenLife Nigeria reports that a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has dismissed the bankruptcy petition filed against the former Managing Director of STACO Insurance Plc, Dr.Sakiru Olanipekun Oyefeso.
The court also awarded a cost of N50,000 against the insurance company.
Problems started when the insurance company filed a petition against Oyefeso over financial irregularities.
He was accused of financial infractions up and against the company’s corporate regulations.
In its statement of facts, STACO alleged that Oyefeso was at all time the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the company and while in office, he obtained unauthorized loans in the name of the company and converted same for personal and family use.
The company further alleged that Oyefeso made some payments to himself without due authorization of the company.
According to the statement, these were discovered in the course of the forensic audit carried out by Ernest & Young.
The company added that as of the date of filing the petition, Oyefeso was indebted to the company to the tune of N575,943,276.70.
They maintained that despite repeated demands for payments, he remained unconcerned.
Consequently, the company as the creditor is urged the court to issue an order adjudging Dr.Sakiru Olanipekun Oyefeso, bankrupt.
The creditor also sought orders directing that all assets, interests, and his holding either held personally or through third parties and privies be liquidated and proceeds applied towards off-setting the debtor’s debts particularly the sum of N575,943,276.70.
The prayers included an order divesting the debtor Oyefeso of all shares, interests and holdings in all public and private companies as well as an order of perpetual injunction restraining Dr.Sakiru Olanipekun Oyefeso from appointment as a director in any company in Nigeria.
However, Dr Oyefeso denied the allegations against him.
He stated that he has for 25 years invested and dedicated himself to the company as the founding Managing Director and shareholder.
He denied that he is indebted to the company; that all the allegations against him are false, contrived and biased.
He relied on a forensic report by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) conducted on the company titled “Project Xenon”.
Oyefeso said that the funds that the creditor alleged as loan are monies he personally provided to the company in order to facilitate the company’s business when required which should be paid back to him.
He maintained that the Project Valentine report made by Ernest & Young was based on contrived false statements and one-sided information adding that the report clearly shows that all the transactions in question were co-signed and approved by other directors of the board of the company and that all the allegations were trumped-up charges made against him as a conspiracy to remove him as the MD/CEO of the company at all cost.
In his submission, Dr.Oyefeso’s counsel, Mr.Seni Adio, SAN, argued that by the provision of section 1(1) of the bankruptcy Act, the company must establish that the company has obtained a final Judgment or order against Dr. Oyefeso in this matter or any other matter.
He stated that he has not committed any act of bankruptcy and that the company has no grounds to have the alleged debtor declared bankrupt
Consequently, Mr Adio, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the petition.
In his judgment, the presiding Judge Nicholas Oweibo said “In this case, there is an allegation by the Creditor (Staco insurance) that the Debtor Dr.Sakiru Olanipekun Oyefeso is indebted to it in various sums. acts of bankruptcy which will entitle a creditor to file a petition are listed out in section 1(1)(a)(I) of the Act.
Looking at the evidence as given by the creditor,it is not the case that the creditor has obtained any judgment or final order against the debtor for the payment of the amount in issue.
This case cannot fit into paragraphs (b)-(h) of section 1(1) of the act.
I am however of the opinion that it is not sufficient to make the allegation; there must be evidence to support the same.
Going by the allegations made against the debtor,it cannot be said that the acts of the debtor would constitute a debt in the true sense.
The picture of the activities of the debtor painted above cannot in my mind constitute a debt.
I am not satisfied that there exists a debtor that the debtor committed acts of bankruptcy to entitle the creditor to reliefs sought.
The petition is accordingly dismissed. I award the cost of N50,000 in favour of the debtor.
STACO Insurance Plc emerged in July 1994 as a result of discreet acquisition and restructuring carried out on Alpha Insurance Plc. The company’s capital base is in excess of N6 billion.