Pharma Deko seeks liquidation of Guinness Nigeria over debt claims

Pharma Deko Plc, a pharmaceutical company has filed a petition at the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking liquidation of Guinness Nigeria Plc as an ongoing business concern over alleged ₦176m debt claim.

The petition, which is before Justice Hadizat Rabiu-Shagari would be heard on 28 March, 2017.

Pharma Deko is also asking the court to appoint an official receiver, who will act as a provisional liquidator of Guinness Nigeria Plc.

The lawyer representing Pharma Deko, Chief (Mrs.) Williams Akinjide (SAN), said that the winding-up petition against Guinness Nigeria was consistent with the Provision of the Companies and Allied Matters Act Cap. C20, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The attorney representing Guinness Nigeria, Mr. Babatunde Fagbohunlu (SAN) is challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the petition urging the court to strike out the suit in its entirety for want of jurisdiction.

Pharma Deko, in its affidavit filed in support of the winding-up of Guinness Nigeria acknowledged that through its production manager, Mr. Olukayode Isola, it entered into a canning agreement with Guinness Nigeria, and as a result of breach of contract by the defendant, an arbitration proceedings was set-up in accordance with the contract on the basis of which an award was made on 1 July 2016.

It stated further that all efforts since 1 July, 2016, to get the contractual debt paid had been ignored by Guinness, in spite of letters written and forwarding of several demand notices pursuant to statutory laws.

Guinness Nigeria Plc in its affidavit stated that by the notice of arbitration dated 10 February, 2010, Pharma-Deko Plc instituted arbitration against Guinness Nigeria Plc, alleging a breach of contract and unlawful termination of canning agreement dated July 2006.

It acknowledged that upon the conclusion of the arbitration, the sole arbitrator published a final award on 1 July, 2016 of the sum of ₦195,167,986.87, which was subsequently corrected and republished on 1 August, 2016, in favour of Pharma-Deko Plc.

However, it stated that upon the counter-claim filed by Pharma-Deko Plc, the arbitrator awarded the sum of ₦21,222,421.43 to Guinness Nigeria Plc, thereby leaving a balance of ₦175,699, 317. 99. It further stated that Pharma-Deko Plc only presented the winding-up proceedings under the guise or pretext that Guinness Nigeria Plc is insolvent.

Furthermore, it argues that winding-up proceeding is not the proper mode of enforcing an arbitral award as set out in the law regulating arbitration proceedings in Nigeria.

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