Socialite Victor Osibodu set to lose prized properties over N8.7bn debt

This is certainly not the best of times for socialite, Victor Osibodu. The businessman who has allegedly been struggling to keep his company, Vigeo Limited, afloat for some years now, may likely lose the prized building housing his once famous company valued at N800 million, as well as another property on Milverton Road, Ikoyi valued at N700 million due to a debt of N8.7bn.

One of the buildings strategically located on Osborne Road, Ikoyi, in recent times has allegedly been a shadow of its former self, with no major activity really happening there.

Perhaps this may allegedly be due to the huge debt. Although his banker wife, Funke Osibodu was CEO and later a director of the holding company of Ecobank Nigeria until she left in 2006, the loan in question which has become his albatross, was obtained in 2008.

His inability to abide by the agreement to service the loan forced Ecobank to institute a case against him at the Federal High Court, Lagos, Nigeria in 2017. Ecobank succeeded in making the court prevent Osibodu, Vigeo limited and their agents from dealing in whatever form, monies under their control in 17 commercial banks in Nigeria at that time, pending the determination of the suit.

The court also allegedly ordered the affected banks to freeze and not to carry out any transaction on the accounts of Osibodu and his company and that they should depose to an affidavit disclosing the nature, value, and balances in their custody. The court also allegedly restrained Osibodu and his agents from dealing in or dissipating all his movable assets.

By a loan facility dated August 1, 2008 and executed on August 8, 2008, the bank allegedly approved $2 million to Vigeo Limited. It was allegedly agreed that the bank would make an equity contribution of 80 per cent in the sum of $1,600,000 and Osibodu would allegedly make a contribution of 20% in the sum of US $400,000 towards the financing of a dry docking exercise. This is in addition to the alleged legal mortgage over the company and the personal guarantee of Osibodu backed up by a notarised statement of net worth.

In 2009, the bank allegedly approved another $1 million in favour of Vigeo Limited by a promissory note dated June 30, 2007, with a promise by Vigeo to pay the sum of $1 million only on 30th June 2013 being due date fixed by the promissory note. Further to the personal guarantee as stated above, Osibodu allegedly provided a notarized statement of his net worth which valued his net worth as N2,871,984,896.49.

However by 2014, Osibodu and Vigeo allegedly failed to make the agreed loan repayments despite the fact that these loans were at one time or the other restructured for easier payments.

This prompted the bank to allegedly write he and his company on June 27, 2014, providing him with his outstanding loan obligations which stood at N719,332,948.38 due for 365 days; US$13,074,478.40 due for 365 days and US$4,114.28 due 390 days.

As a result of his failure to repay the outstanding sums as at August 1, 2016 the bank allegedly, formally called off Osibodu’s personal guarantee by demanding the immediate payment of N869,794,650.56 and US$16,381,292.52 on or before September, 2016. Upon alleged payment of the amount realised from the sale of the share of Victor Osibodu, the company’s outstanding indebtedness reduced to N7,526,112,446.84.

This was what prompted Justice Saliu Saidu in his ruling to restrain Vigeo and its chairman, Osibodu, from removing or transferring, dealing in or dissipating all their movable assets up to the Ecobank‘s claim of the sum of N8,701,770,328.83, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

However, Vigeo and Osibodu insist that they are not indebted to Ecobank in the sum of N8,701,770,328.83 or any sum at all and that the bank is not entitled to any of the reliefs claimed in the suit, as same are frivolous, baseless, unmeritorious and should be dismissed with substantial costs.

They claim that Ecobank Transnational Incorporated did not acquire the defunct Oceanic Bank International Plc at all, contesting that any purported acquisition is void, illegal and unenforceable in law.

They stated that there was no merger of the defunct Oceanic Bank with Ecobank and no valid or legal merger adding that the purported merger is illegal and void in law and did not comply with all requisite statutory requirements and due process of law.

Also, that Ecobank is not the successor-in-title or successor-in-interest of defunct Oceanic Bank and the rights, assets and liabilities of Oceanic Bank are not vested in Ecobank.

In a resumed hearing earlier this week, Ecobank’s counsel informed the presiding judge, Justice Yellin Bogoro, that the bank had 111 exhibits attached to the process and two witnesses to call.

Ecobank’s counsel further told the court that he had discussed with the defence counsel, the need to align all the exhibits in order to agree on which of them would be tendered together without objection and those that would be objected to, in order to save the time of the court.

Consequently, both counsels agreed and asked for an adjournment to enable them to reconcile the documents. The trial is now scheduled to commence on March 17and 30, 2022.

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