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Court freezes Benue’s accounts over unpaid N333m loan

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Samuel Ortom

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has ordered the interim blockade of the Benue State government’s accounts in some banks in the country over an unpaid N333million loan.

The judge gave the order while ruling on an ex-parte motion brought by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

He also directed that the bank accounts of HPPS Multilink Services Limited be frozen pending the hearing and the determination of the substantive suit.

The AMCON is the claimant while the Benue State government and the company are the respondents in the suit.

The affected banks where the two respondents’ accounts are domiciled are Access Bank Plc, Citibank Nigeria Limited, Eco Bank Nigeria Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, First Bank Nigeria Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc, and Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.

Others are – Heritage Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Limited, Polaris Bank Limited, Stanbic IBTC Plc, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited, Sterling Bank Plc, Suntrust Bank Nigeria Limited, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Unity Bank Nigeria Plc, Wema Bank Plc, and Zenith Bank Plc.

In the ex-parte motion with number: FHC/ABJ/AMC/74/2021, filed by its counsel on September 30, Darlington Ozurumba, AMCON prayed for five reliefs.

In an affidavit in support of the motion, the corporation described the facility as a toxic loan of eligible bank assets transferred to it by law to recover.

READ ALSO: Gov Ortom mortgaging Benue’s future with loans, APC alleges

AMCON told the court HPPS Multilink Services Limited collected the N333 million loan facility from Bank PHB Plc (now Keystone Bank Limited) on January 31, 2008, for the purchase of 5, 000 motorcycles to the Benue State government and its workers through the state chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress vide an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO}.

It said: “That the 2nd respondent is the state government of the beneficiaries who equally gave ISPO guarantee for the repayment of the loan through deduction from the salaries of its workers and make payment to the bank but failed to do so.

“That the loan was for the agreed period of 24 months at the interest rate of 19 percent per annum.

“That the loan granted to the respondents has crystalized to the sum of N784, 340, 428.03 as at 2014 from the sum of N333,000,000 granted to the 1st defendant in 2008 and guaranteed by the 2nd defendant as contained in the letter of August 15, 2014, which represents the interest and the principal sum as at August 15, 2014, and same has remained unpaid till date.”

Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter till November 2 for mention.

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