A spectacle unfolded at the Financial Division of the High Court in Accra yesterday when two opposing sides merged to fight an oil company over the ownership of $391,250.
Soleushing Nigeria and Soleushing UK, both vessel operators, had, from last year, been at each other’s throat over the ownership of a vessel, the MT Soleushing.
In the ensuing struggle over ownership, Soleushing UK accused Soleushing Nigeria of stealing the vessel, which had been used to cart low pour fuel oil (LPFO) from Nigeria to Saltpond in Ghana, in April 2013.
The matter ended up at the High Court where Soleushing Nigeria claimed it was the rightful owner of the $391,250 but Soleushing UK entered appearance and prayed the court not to release the money to Soleushing Nigeria.
Auxesia Energy Limited, the company from whose account the money was withdrawn, is also praying the court, presided over by Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, to return the money to the company’s account on the grounds that Auxesia Energy had no dealings with the two vessel operating companies.
The court is currently gathering both oral and documentary evidence from the parties and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to ascertain the actual owner of the amount.
The twist to the issue occurred at the court’s sitting yesterday when counsel for Soleushing UK, Mr Dubik Alhassan Mahama, suggested to a witness that the $391,250 belonged to Soleushing Nigeria and Soleushing UK.
According to him, the amount represented charter fees for the MT Soleushing, which was used to cart the LPFO that was eventually purchased by Auxesia Energy Limited.
However, the Managing Director of Auxesia Energy, Mrs Faith A. Odulu, disagreed with Mr Mahama.
Answering questions under cross-examination from Mr Mahama, Mrs Odulu told the court that the cheque for the $391,250 was meant to settle Auxesia’s indebtedness to Earth Petroleum after it had sold the LPFO to Auxesia Energy.
Asked why she stopped payment on the issued cheque, Mrs Odulu said it was because her company had made some cash advance to the owner of Earth Petroleum, Elder Christopher Isibor.
The cash advance, she explained, had thus reduced the amount Auxesia Energy owed Earth Petroleum.
She, nonetheless, admitted that Auxesia Energy owed Earth Petroleum some balance.
No contract with Soleushing Nigeria and UK
Mr Mahama sought to suggest to Mrs Odulu that the amount in dispute was meant to be used to pay charter fees for the vessel, but Mrs Odulu insisted it was for the payment of the LPFO.
She also reiterated that her company had no contract with Soleushing Nigeria and Soleushing UK and further explained that it was Earth Petroleum that had contracted Soleushing Nigeria to cart the LPFO.
Mrs Odulu told the court that her company sued Earth Petroleum to demand the return of the cheque.