International concerns are already mounting with the continued closure of the operational head office of Seplat Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) on the orders of a court ruling obtained by Access Bank Nigeria Plc.
With just about two weeks to the end of the year, and with no likely indication that the office would be unsealed in the next few days, international concerns have soared, fuelling apprehensions among global investors whose stakes in Seplat are huge and discernable.
Some of the firms reportedly associated with Seplat which might suffer reputational damage on account of the escalating issues between Access Bank and Cardinal Drilling Services on the one hand and Access Bank and Seplat on the other hand include the following: Belemoil Producing Ltd, Eland Oil and Gas, Anoh Gas Processsing Company ;td, Cardinal Drilling Services, Newton Energy Limited, Nerine Support Services ltd, Seplat East Swamp Company Limited, Seplat Gas Company Ltd and Ord Oil and Gas(Nigeria) Ltd.
Apart from the reputational issues, there are also the likely consequences of plummeting stakeholders interest in shares and stakes of the affected company as a Plc.
As at the close of this week, The New Diplomats’ checks reveal that Seplat’s head office was still sealed off on account of a court order obtained by Access Bank Plc following default by Cardinal Drilling services to off- set or service existing loan instruments.
Going by this development as well as Seplat’s seeming inability to vacate the court order instituted by Access Bank, indications are that the head office of the company may remain shut down helplessly till next year. Legal experts who spoke with The New Diplomat say most courts would be closed for the year a few days shortly before Christmas.
Dr ABC Orjiakor, an exceptional entrepreneur and avuncular businessman with reported commitment to ethical standards is the chairman of Seplat. However, Access Bank claims that Dr Orjiakor who obtained the said loan from Diamond Bank, may have used Cardinal Drilling as a front designed to obliterate the real aim of deploying the said funds for Seplat’s operations.
Recall that the the once chummy business relationship between Seplat Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Access Bank of Nigeria Plc, had given to a nasty war over reported indebtedness of a third party.
This development has generated a growing spat between the management of both companies with Seplat threatening to initiate legal actions against Access Bank of Nigeria PLC for sealing up its corporate head office in Lagos. The New Diplomat’s checks reveal that Seplat indeed followed up on this week at the court in Lagos.
Recall also that Access Bank had sealed off the SPDC’s corporate head office located at 16A Temple Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. The issues in contention centred around the refusal or inability of an alleged third party(Cardinal Drilling) to pay up a staggering loan which Access Bank offered to the company in question.
However, in response, the management of Seplat insist that its company has not shareholding in Cardinal Drilling, neither has it any outstanding loan obligations to Access Bank. SPDC also affirms that it did not at any time make any written commitment or guarantee in respect of Cardinal Drilling’s loan obligations to Access Bank.
In another development, Seplat in its quick reaction to Access Bank’s decision to seal of its corporate head office located at 16A Temple Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, decided to question the legality of Access Bank’s action in court.
A press statement issued by Seplat, and signed by its company’s Secretary who also doubles as General Counsel, Mrs Edith Onwuchekwa said “SEPLAT will vigorously defend against this improper action to the full extent of the law and will seek all appropriate legal remedies.”
The statement further stated: “We understand that Cardinal Drilling has outstanding loan obligations to Access Bank. However, SEPLAT is neither a shareholder in Cardinal Drilling, nor has outstanding loan obligations or guarantees to Access Bank and did not at any time make any commitments or guarantees in respect of Cardinal Drilling’s loan obligations to Access Bank. SEPLAT strongly believes that there is no merit or justification for this action against it and has taken prompt legal action to vacate the court order pursuant to which the building was sealed.
“This action was taken by Access Bank without any prior notice to SEPLAT, as required under Nigerian law. SEPLAT will vigorously defend against this improper action to the full extent of the law and will seek all appropriate legal remedies.”
It was gathered that the third party in question in the dispute, which is Cardinal Drilling Service Limited, has defaulted in meeting its loan obligations to Access Bank. This action consequently moved Access Bank to initiate an action to seal off SEPLAT’s corporate head office in Ikoyi Lagos, predicating its action on a subsisting court order.
Cardinal Drilling prides itself as a new generation indigenous Drilling Company that will bring in quality rigs, and deploy competent manpower to work.
But unfortunately with this latest development, the company faces serious integrity and reputational crisis, an emergency that has further escalated far-reaching anxiety and triggered many grave questions about the appropriateness of its operational and business model.
First, its perceived business model has precipitated a crisis within its organization which has unfortunately been externalized on account of Cardinal Drilling’s reported lack of competent Crisis Management Team and sound Crisis Management Strategy (CMT & CMS)to address the situation.
Consequently, this crisis has snowballed into a combat and provoked Access Bank to stir up further emergencies by sealing off the corporate headquarters of SEPLAT.
Cardinal Drilling’s managing director and CEO is Kalu Nwosu, who previously worked at Shell and Brittania-U Nigeria Ltd could not be reached for comments as at the time of going to press.
Similarly, repeated efforts to reach Dr ABC Orjiakor, a highly respected industry player was unsuccessful as his phone rang out. However, going by our graph, the issues at the centre of the soaring feud has been broken down in more discernable style.
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