Wellington Hotel Returned to Owner After 8 Months in Court With Sterling Bank
By Francis Sadhere, Warri
Barely eight months after Sterling Bank was alleged to have illegally taken over the ownership of the popular Wellington Hotel Limited located at Effurun in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta state, original owner of the Hotel today took over the possession after Sterling bank lost the case at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
In carrying out the court order, management of Wellington Hotel Limited and men of the Nigerian Police, armed with the Court judgement, stormed the hotel at about 11:10 am and kicked out all the staff of Bay Hotel and Resort along with their guests from the hotel.
The management and staff of Bay Hotel who were taken unaware by the police were seen scampering for safety when they saw the combined squad of security men stormed the hotel in a commando style.
In the process of trying to evacuate the staff of Bay Hotel and Resort from the premises, our correspondent reports that a mild drama played out as some of the staff who were trying to escape, were stopped by the security men around.
According to counsel to Wellington Hotel Limited, Barrister Jonathan Ekperosi of O.Obrik-Uloho Chambers, the takeover of the hotel by the rightful owners could be described as the triumph of the rule of law.
He also described the take over of Wellington hotel by Sterling Bank as illegal because according to him, Wellington Hotel Limited did not have any transaction with Sterling bank as at the time the bank claimed that the hotel was indebted to it.
He said, “What you saw since the 11th of September 2015 when the premises of Wellington Hotel was evaded by officials of Sterling Bank, was a forceful entry with the criminal support from men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps. I am saying this because it is important to let the general public know that at no time was Wellington Hotel Limited indebted to Sterling Bank, has no transaction whatsoever with Sterling Bank.”
He averred that; “The management of Wellington Hotel Limited did not enter into any agreement either by way of loan or guaranteeing of a loan. As I am speaking with you now, the matter is in court. The bank took a sister company of Wellington Hotel Limited to court and they lost the case at the federal High Court Lagos. So the order with which the bank wrongfully took over the premises has nothing to do with the hotel.”
According to him also; “The bank claims that a sister company with Wellington Hotel Limited was indebted to them, while that transaction was going on, Wellington Hotel Limited played no role in it. Wellington Hotel Limited did not play any role and was not even aware of anything. So it was a surprise when management of the bank came with an order to take over Wellington Hotel Limited”.
“At any rate those matters are over now since the bank lost out. What you are seeing now is the triumph of the rule of law, it is the triumph of the Nigerian judiciary. Many of you might be aware of what happened in Lagos where a certain party was trying to usurp the judiciary process and got court order through the back door with which they use to take over this place,” he posited.
In his words also; “But when we were briefed, we went to Lagos and the order with which the bank came here on September 11th, 2015 was nullified, vacated and set aside since 26th November 2015. So the stay, either by the bank or Bay Hotel, was illegal because there was no basis. Now the public need to know that Bay Hotel and allied services which goes by the new name of Bay Hotel and resort, is not in the picture at all. There was never any court order from the beginning of the litigation till date that Bay Hotel and Resort got any court order to come to this place. They came in under the guise of Sterling bank and took over this place.”
“But like I said today, it is wrongful and Wellington Hotel Limited has come back as the rightful owner of the place. The order of court is here with me and you can see that the court said that Wellington Hotel Limited Limited must be put back to position. This order is addressed to the police from the Federal High Court in Lagos and what you are now seeing is the police merely complying with the order of court”, he stated.
Also speaking to our correspondent, Mr. Dennis Agbonifo, one of the Directors of Wellington Hotel Limited assured the general public that very soon, the hotel will kick off smoothly again to render it’s services to the public as it used to do.