Court dismisses bankruptcy case against former insurance boss Staco
A Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed a bankruptcy claim filed against the former managing director of Staco Insurance PLC, Dr Sakiru Olanipekun Oyefeso. The court also awarded costs of 50,000 naira to the insurance company that drafted the petition against Oyefeso.
In its statement of facts, Staco Insurance alleged that while in office, the managing director / CEO of the company, Dr Oyefeso, obtained unauthorized loans on behalf of the company and converted them . He was also accused of making illegal expenses for himself, his relatives and other third parties from company funds.
The company said the alleged irregularities were discovered during the forensic audit performed by Ernst & Young, and that despite repeated requests for payment, he had not paid, and as of the filing date of the petition, he owed the company N575 943 276.70.
Therefore, the company, as a creditor, urged the court to issue an order declaring Oyefeso bankrupt. The creditor also requested an order ordering that all assets, interests and holdings, held personally or through third parties and individuals, be liquidated and that the proceeds be used to set off the debtor’s debts, in particular the sum of 575,943,276.70 N. An order divesting Oyefeso from all shares, interests and holdings in all public and private companies. He also applied for a perpetual injunction order, preventing him from taking up his duties as a director at a company in Nigeria.
However, Oyefeso has denied all the allegations. He said he had invested and devoted himself to the company for 25 years, as a founding CEO and shareholder. He denied being in debt to the company. He asked the court to dismiss the action, on the grounds that all the allegations against him were false, artificial and one-sided.
He tendered and relied on a forensic report produced on the company by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM).
Oyefeso said the funds alleged by the creditor were loans, money he had personally provided to the company in order to facilitate its operations when necessary, and that the alleged loans were repayments by the company as repayments. .
He explained that some of the alleged unauthorized payments were deferred benefits to which he was entitled, and subsequently approved for payment by other directors, and for which other directors were similarly indemnified. He told the court that all the allegations were false accusations against him, like a plot to remove him at any cost as the CEO / CEO of the company.
His lawyer, Mr Seni Adio, SAN, while asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit, argued that the company had no reason for its client to be declared bankrupt.
In his judgment, Judge Nicholas Oweibo said: “In this case there is an allegation by the creditor (Staco Insurance) that the debtor Dr Sakiru Olanipekun Oyefeso owes him various sums. The bankruptcy acts that will allow a creditor to file a petition are listed in section 1 (1) (a) (I) of the Bankruptcy Act. In view of the evidence provided by the creditor, it is not true that the creditor has obtained a final judgment or order against the debtor for payment of the amount in question. This case cannot fall under subparagraphs (b) – (h) of article 1 (1) of the Law ”.
“I am of the opinion, however, that it is not enough to make the allegation, there must be some evidence to support it. If one relies on the allegations made against the debtor, one cannot say that the acts of the debtor would constitute a debt in the proper sense of the term.
“The table of the debtor’s activities painted above cannot in my opinion constitute a debt.
“I am not convinced that there is a debt, or that the debtor has committed acts of bankruptcy to entitle the creditor to the remedies requested. The petition is therefore rejected. I award costs of 50,000 naira in favor of the debtor.