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Kuforiji-Olubi Cries Foul over British Court’s Order Freezing Her Assets

A former Minister of Commerce and Tourism, Chief Bola Kuforiji-Olubi has faulted an asset freezing order purportedly issued against her and some members of her family by a London court following a dispute between a company where she was a Chairman – Phoenixtide Offshore Nigeria Limited and its estranged foreign partner, Tidewater Marine International Incorporated.

The ex-minister said the order issued ex-parte on March 31 by Justice Eder of the Commercial Court, High Court, Queen’s Bench Division, was intended to coerce her and her family into submission and to stop her from further insisting that Tidewater must settle all outstanding indebtedness and tax liabilities to Nigerian government and tax authorities before the termination of both companies’ relationship.

Kuforiji-Olubi, who spoke through her lawyer, Ade Adedeji, said steps had been taken to stay the execution of the wrongly issued order and to have it set aside.

Tidewater still operates in the country through a local company, T1 Marine Services Limited.

Adedeji said it was strange that a court could grant such order without hearing form the other side.

He accused Tidewater of suppressing facts before the English court especially failing to tell the British judge that there were pending cases between parties in Nigerian courts and the fact that Tidewater had appealed an earlier order by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, Lagos asking Total to pay its $12.6m debt into an account opened by the court until the determination of pending cases between parties.

He said Tidewater did not only hide these facts from the court, it deceived the London court to believe that the Nigerian stakeholders in Phoenixtide, including Kuforiji-Olubi were blocking its access to the $12.6m yet to be paid by Total in view of the appeal it (Tidewater) filed.

Adedeji noted that even when all business done was with PhoenixTide in Nigeria, which is a bona fide limited liability company registered in the country, Tidewater is “surreptitiously demanding payment of the outstanding amount from Total from Kuforiji-Olubi and her family when they have never had access individually and severally to those funds.

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