Alleged N69.4bn Debt: Jimoh Ibrahim, NICON Lose Appeals Against AMCON

AMCON is in possession of all 12 properties owned by billionaire businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim.

The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division has dismissed an appeal by the Chairman of Global Fleet Group, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, challenging the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON)’s seizure of his 12 assets and freezing of all his accounts over his alleged N69.4billion debt.

AMCON’s Head of Corporate Communications Department, Jude Nwauzor, disclosed this in a statement on Friday shortly after the appellate court ruled on the appeal.

For him, the ruling was ‘another victory for AMCON and the needed good news’ to the recovery drive of the government recovery agency.

Nwauzor stated that the justices upheld the arguments of AMCON’s lead counsel and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr Kemi Pinheiro.

Pinheiro had prayed the court to dismiss Ibrahim’s application. Ibrahim (first defendant) and his company (second defendant) were also represented by two SANs, Niyi Akintola and Bolaji Ayorinde, respectively.

In response to the order of Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos issued on November 18, 2020, AMCON took possession of all 12 properties through its Debt Recovery Agent – Pinheiro Legal Partners, Nwauzor explained.

These assets include the building of NICON Investment Limited at Plot 242, Muhammadu Buhari Way, Central Business District, Abuja; NICON Hotels Limited building at Plot 557, Port-Harcourt Crescent, off Gimbiya Street, Abuja, and the building of NICON Lekki Limited also at No. 5, Customs Street, Lagos.

Other properties are the building of Abuja International Hotels Limited located at No. 3, Hospital Road, Lagos; another property at Plot 242, Muhammadu Buhari Way, Abuja; the former Allied Bank Building on Mile 2, Oshodi Expressway, Lagos; Energy House located on No. 94, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; NICON Building at No. 40, Madeira Street, Maitama, Abuja; a residential apartment at Road 2, House A14, Victoria Garden City, Lagos; NICON Hotels Building at Plot 3, Road 3, Victoria Garden City, Lagos, as well as the NICON Luxury Hotel’s Building, Garki I, FCT, Abuja.

In addition to the takeover of the properties, the lower court had also ordered the freezing of all accounts belonging to Ibrahim and his companies, including Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited and NICON Investment Limited – all of whom were defendants in the suit No. FHL/L/CL/776/2016.

“AMCON, in November 2020, following a court order seized the properties of Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim over an alleged debt of N69.4 billion, which was sold to AMCON by Union Bank as a non-performing loan in the early days of AMCON,” the statement read.

“AMCON had sometime on November 4, 2020 through their lawyers, Kemi Pinheiro SAN, obtained an ex parte order (Under Sections 49 & 50 of the AMCON Act as amended) against NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited, and Jimoh Ibrahim, freezing their accounts in various banks, as well as attaching various properties of the companies, which properties included: NICON Investment Limited’s Building at Plot 242, Muhammadu Buhari way, Central Business District, Abuja, NICON Hotels Limited’s Building, Plot 557, Port-Harcourt Crescent, off Gimbiya Street, Abuja, NICON Lekki Limited’s Building, No. 5, Customs Street, Lagos, Abuja International Hotels Limited’s Building – No. 3, Hospital Road, Lagos, Residential Apartment, at Road 2, House A14, Victoria Garden City, Lagos, NICON Hotels Building, Plot 3, Road 3, Victoria Garden City, Ajah, Lagos and NICON Luxury Hotel’s Building, Garki 1, Abuja.

“Following the execution of the order, NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited and Jimoh Ibrahim through their lawyers Chief Adeniyi Akintola SAN filed a motion dated November 19, 2020, seeking to discharge/set aside the order, which was made by Justice R.M. Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos. Some other entities, which AMCON alleged was linked to Jimoh Ibrahim to wit: NICON Insurance Limited, Nigerian-Re-Insurance Limited, Abuja Hotel Limited and NICON Hotels Limited, also filed an application to discharge the said order of 4th day of November 4, 2020. After hearing the two applications and the arguments canvassed by parties through their respective counsel, Hon. Justice R.M. Aikawa proceeded to dismiss both applications by his ruling of February 16, 2021.”

As a follow-up to that decision, according to Nwauzor, both sets of applicants filed independent appeals in the Court of Appeal.

At the hearing of the appeals on September 30, Pinheiro raised a preliminary objection to the appeal contending that the appeal was incompetent because the appellants failed to seek leave prior to the filing of the appeal.

In a unanimous decision on Friday, the appellate court upheld the preliminary objection of AMCON and dismissed both appeals.

“The implication of this is that AMCON remains in possession of the properties attached by the order of Hon. Justice R.M. Aikawa on November 4, 2021,” the statement added.

Nwauzor explained that the case between Ibrahim and AMCON has been ongoing since the loan was purchased by the government debt recovery agency during the first phase of Eligible Bank Assets (EBA) purchases from Union Bank in the early days of AMCON.

AMCON, according to him, is not deterred to recover the money owed it by Ibrahim and his companies in the interest of the nation’s economy and the Nigerian people.

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