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N176m debt: Guinness Nigeria files defence against Pharma – Deko

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Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed March 28, to hear a winding-up petition against Guinness Nig. Plc, over N176 million arbitrary award.

The petition was filed by a Pharmaceutical company, Pharma-Deko Plc.

In the winding-up petition suit marked FHC/L/CP/69/2017, Pharma-Deko Plc is urging the court to wind-up Guinness Nig. Plc due to its inability to pay an alleged contractual debt of N176 million.

Pharma-Deko is also urging the court to appoint an official receiver as a provisional liquidator.

When the case was mentioned, Mrs. Williams Akinjide, counsel to the petitioner, requested the court for a date to hear the applications.

Meanwhile, the respondent on its part brewed its processes and is challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit.

In its processes, Guinness Nig. Plc put up a strong defence and denied that it is indebted to Pharma Deko Plc in the stated amount.

In its response to the winding-up proceedings, Guinness Nigeria Plc, urged the court to strike out the suit in its entirety for want of jurisdiction.

It averred that upon the conclusion of arbitration, the sole arbitrator, published a final award on July 1, 2016 of the sum of about N196 million.

The amount was subsequently corrected and republished on August 1, 2016, in favour of Pharma-Deko Plc.

It, however, stated that upon the counter-claim filed by Pharma-Deko Plc, the arbitrator awarded the sum of about N21 million to Guinness Nig. Plc, thereby leaving a balance of about N176 million It further stated that Pharma-Deko Plc only presented the winding-up proceedings under the guise or pretext that Guinness Nigeria Plc is insolvent.

It added that winding-up proceedings is not the proper mode of enforcing an arbitrary award as set out in the law regulating arbitration proceedings in Nigeria.

It argued that the amount claimed by Pharma Deko Plc in the court process is an insignificant amount when compared to the revenue, cash flow and balance sheet of the company.

The respondent opines that it is very confident of being able to repudiate the claims.

Guiness further avers that it is capable of meeting its financial and other obligations to its various stakeholders and that it continues to operate as a going concern.

Consequently, Guinness is urging the court to strike out Pharma-Deko Plc’s winding-up petition for want of jurisdiction. Justice Hadizat Rabiu Shagari has adjourned hearing of the application till March 28.

The petitioner in a verifying affidavit averred that it entered into a contract with the respondent, which was breached.

He added that arbitration proceedings were conducted in accordance with the contract on the basis of which an award was made on July 1, 2016.

He added that by the award referred to, Guinness Nigeria Plc is contractually indebted to it in the sum of N176 million.

It stated further that all efforts since July 1, 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.

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