AMCON Loses Bid to Take over Old Fed­eral Sec­re­tar­iat…

Court awards N3bn dam­ages against FG

THISDAY - - FRONT PAGE - Davidson Iriekpen

The As­set Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion of Nige­ria (AMCON) yes­ter­day lost its bid to takeover the land known as the Fed­eral Sec­re­tar­iat Com­plex, Ikoyi, La­gos, as a Fed­eral High Court in La­gos dis­missed its debt re­cov­ery suit it filed against busi­ness­man, Dr Wale Ba­bal­akin (SAN).

Jus­tice Ibrahim Buba, in his judg­ment, also awarded the sum of N3 bil­lion dam­ages against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and AMCON in favour of Ba­bal­akin for pub­lish­ing his name in THISDAY News­pa­per of Fe­bru­ary 5, 2016, as a First Bank’s debtor.

AMCON had dragged Ba­bal­akin and one of his com­pa­nies, Re­sort In­ter­na­tional Lim­ited to court in Novem­ber 2012, seek­ing an or­der for the re­pay­ment of the sum of N20.5 bil­lion com­pris­ing prin­ci­pal sum and ac­crued in­ter­est as at Oc­to­ber 2011 on var­i­ous loan fa­cil­i­ties al­legedly granted to the busi­ness­man and per­son­ally guar­an­teed by his com­pany.

It is also sought an or­der grant­ing it the power of sale or dis­posal of a par­cel of land known as Alma Beach prop­erty, and the par­cel of land known as the Fed­eral Sec­re­tar­iat Com­plex, Phase 1 & 2, Ikoyi in par­tial or fi­nal liq­ui­da­tion of the debt.

AMCON also wanted the court to grant it the power of sale or dis­posal of all the fuel hy­drant tanks sit­u­ated at the Do­mes­tic Wing of the Mur­tala Muhammed In­ter­na­tional Air­port, owned by the Ist de­fen­dant and given as se­cu­rity for the debt, or in the al­ter­na­tive, an or­der of the court ap­point­ing AMCON as re­ceivers over the busi­ness and as­sets of Re­sort In­ter­na­tional Lim­ited and Wale Ba­bal­akin for the pur­pose of man­ag­ing same to fully re­alise the al­leged judg­ment debt.

But in a counter-claim, Ba­bal­akin and his com­pany con­tended that they are not in­debted to AMCON but that a N4 bil­lion fa­cil­ity of­fer to the com­pany is an eq­uity con­tri­bu­tion which was wrongly clas­si­fied as a loan from First Bank Plc.

They also claimed that it was not a loan that they are ob­li­gated to re­pay with in­ter­est and same can­not be ac­quired by AMCON.

They there­fore asked the court to set aside the pur­ported loan for be­ing in­con­sis­tent with the pro­vi­sions of the AMCON Act (2010) as amended and the CBN guide­line for the oper­a­tions of AMCON and to de­clare same as il­le­gal, null and void and of no ef­fect what­so­ever.

The counter-claimants fur­ther con­tended that the pub­li­ca­tion of their names and that of their di­rec­tors by the AMCON in the list of delin­quent debtors in re­la­tion to loan fa­cil­i­ties pur­port­edly ac­quired by the 1st De­fen­dant which are the sub­jects of pend­ing suits be­tween the counter-claimants and the de­fen­dants is un­con­sti­tu­tional, il­le­gal, an in­fringe­ment of the rights of the counter-claimants and an af­front to the ju­di­cial pow­ers of the court and the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice sys­tem.

In his judg­ment, Jus­tice Buba agreed with the ar­gu­ments of the counter-claimants and dis­missed the claims of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and AMCON.

The court or­dered the claimants (FG and AMCON) to pub­lished a full and com­plete re­trac­tion and apol­ogy to the counter-claimants (Ba­bal­akin and his com­pany) in three na­tional dailies and to for­ward to them a writ­ten un­der­tak­ing that it will cease from pub­lish­ing sim­i­lar al­le­ga­tions

Jus­tice Buba also or­dered the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to com­ply with the terms of the ar­bi­tral award ren­dered on De­cem­ber 3, 2015 which awarded N55 bil­lion to the counter-claimants.

The judge also held that the counter-claimants is not in­debted to AMCON in the sum of N21 bil­lion or any sum what­so­ever aris­ing from the fa­cil­ity pur­port­edly ac­quired from Zenith Bank Plc, and First Bank of Nige­ria Plc.

The court fur­ther de­clared that the Loan Pur­chase and Lim­ited Servicing Agree­ment en­tered into be­tween Ba­bal­akin and First Bank of Nige­ria Plc on April 6, 2011, for the pur­ported ac­qui­si­tion of the Loan Rights of First Bank of Nige­ria Plc in the sum of N18,843,081,673. is in­con­sis­tent with the pro­vi­sions of the AMCON Act 2010 (as amended) and the CBN Guide­lines for the Oper­a­tions of the As­set Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion of Nige­ria is­sued on Novem­ber 15, 2010, and there­fore il­le­gal, null and void and of no ef­fect what­so­ever.

The court there­fore set aside the Loan Pur­chase and Lim­ited Servicing Agree­ment for be­ing il­le­gal, null and void and of no ef­fect what­so­ever.

Jus­tice Buba also or­dered AMCON to im­me­di­ately dis­charge and re­lease to Ba­bal­akin all col­lat­er­als, guar­an­tees and as­sets held by it and / or any of the banks in con­nec­tion with the fa­cil­ity and en­sure the re­turn of the orig­i­nal ti­tle doc­u­ments in re­spect of such col­lat­er­als to the counter-claimant.

The col­lat­er­als or­dered to be re­turned by the court in­cluded: lease­hold in­ter­est in the Fed­eral Sec­re­tar­iat Com­plex Phase I and II Ikoyi, La­gos, for a term of 99 years, domi­cil­i­a­tion of pro­ceeds from the sale of lux­ury apart­ments from the Fed­eral Sec­re­tar­iat Com­plex Phase I and II Ikoyi, La­gos and fixed charge over Fuel Hy­drant Tanks sit­u­ate at the do­mes­tic wing of the Mur­tala Muhammed Air­port, Ikeja, La­gos.

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