Bankruptcy: Court orders WEMPCO to pay N11m over breach of contract

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  • How the company move N4b within a week from its account

 

Chief Magistrate Y. J. Badejo-Okusanya of an Ogba magistrate’s court has awarded N11million damage against a construction and manufacturing firm, Western Metal Products Company Limited (WEMPCO) over an alleged breach of contractual agreement with a businessman, Emmanuel Onaiwu and his company, Unibomec Technical Apex Limited.

Onaiwu had dragged the construction firm to court over its failure to pay N2.5million for some iron rods supplied to it since 2014.

Despite the fact that the defendant was served with court processes, it failed to appear in court and did not file any defence effectively, rendering the suit undefended.

At trial, the claimant testified for himself through his statement on oath dated June 22, 2016, which was admitted as an exhibit by the court.

He argued that he was contacted by the defendant to supply raw materials – iron rods to its office by a Local Purchasing Order (LPO) dated December 22, 2013.

He further claimed that the items were supplied on January 13, 2014 while the defendant had refused to pay N2, 543, 000.00 for the items despite repeated letters demanding payment.

The items supplied are:  H Bean 406 x 178 x 74 – 150 meters (13 length) and Angle Iron 75 x 75 x 5.8 – 100m (25 length).

In her judgment, Magistrate Badejo-Okusanya noted that the standard of proof in civil cases was on the balance of probability as the onus was on the defendant to prove to the contrary.

“The defendant has not filed any process in defence of this matter, leaving the court with no other choice than to accept the claimant’s testimony”, she said.

Magistrate Badejo-Okusanya consequently directed the defendant to pay N2, 543, 000.00 being the sum of the items supplied to the claimant.

The magistrate further directed the defendant to pay 7.5 per cent interest rate on the money from the date the debt was owed until it was finally liquidated.

Besides, the defendant was also ordered to pay cost of litigation assessed at N100, 000 to the claimant.

When the bailiff deputies and policemen from Area G Command in Ogba storm the premises of the company on Tuesday 7th November to carryout the court order the management subsequently submitted to the court order and pleaded with the Managing Director of Unibomec Technical Apex Limited, Emmanuel Onaiwu and his counsel, Bar. Eze Alala. After much negotiation, WEMPCO agreed to pay the sum of N3,000,000.00 on the day while promising to pay the remaining balance of N8,500,000.00 before December, 31st 2017 and opted out to appealing the judgment.

After much deliberation, the defendant (WEMPCO) paid the claimant (Unibomec Technical Apex Limited) and acknowledgement was sign on how to pay the remaining balance, after which 8 of their vehicles amongst top directors’ SUV, which were initially towed away were later returned.

Barr. Eze G. Alala thanked the judiciary for showing restraint in the face of ‘big company, tiny fingers’ syndrome. “This case has been going on since 2014 and WEMPCO Group has deemed it fit not to enter into any dialogue with the plaintiff, with the mindset that it is a Nigeria with impunity from the judiciary. I thank the judiciary for stepping into and saving a poor man’s life,” he said.

To show how dubious and criminally minded (WEMPCO), which is be run by it Managing Director, Lewis Tung could be they have file in application saying that Mr. Onaiwu sue the wrong company.

Reacting to the latest development, Barrister Eze Alala, the claimant lawyer said he wasn’t surprise by the game the company was playing with his client, saying that he knew the company run by Lebanese have never been open in dealing with its staffer and customer.

“WEMPCO wants to show that it smart, but by the time we are done with it, I can assure you it will pay more. This shows how this company cheats the government of Lagos State and Nigeria. They have continued to indulge in the act of not remitting their tax in appropriate manner. They owe their staff salary and constitute environmental hazard.

“We urge the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) to beam their searchlight on WEMPCO because we are sure they don’t remit their tax. We also employ FIRS to beam their searchlight on this dubious company.

 

“In our findings, we discovered that the company (WEMPCO) has 22 bank accounts in Nigeria and in all of these accounts, there was no penny except for one account with a new generation bank. When we requested to know their financial status, the only money in the account, N4billion was moved out of the bank within 24-hour.

 

“So, we challenge Lagos State Government and Federal Government of Nigeria to look into the operation of this company that is robbing the economy of this nation. There are so many questions unanswered with their operations. Where are they saving all the money they make in this country? Are they into money laundering?” Eze questioned.

 

Meanwhile, a staff of WEMPCO, who pleaded anonymity, lamented the highhandedness of the company in court cases. “I work here but they treat Nigerians without any seriousness. If you complain to them, you get an instant sack without benefits. I am happy to see the first Nigerian to challenge them. There are a lot of ills going on here. Government should beam her searchlight on them,” she concluded.

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