By Robert Egbe
A Federal High Court (FHC) in Lagos Tuesday declined to vacate an interim order through which the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) seized properties belonging to businessman Jimoh Ibrahim for an alleged N69.4billion debt.
Ibrahim, NICON Investment Ltd and Global Fleet Oil and Gas Ltd, had contended that the court granted the order in error, alleging that AMCON concealed material facts in its ex-parte application leading to the seizure order.
They prayed the court to set aside the order for “non-disclosure and misrepresentation of material facts” and sought N50billion indemnity against AMCON for, among others, alleged failure to conduct due diligence before obtaining the said order.
But AMCON’s counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, (SAN), opposed him and prayed the court to dismiss the Motion on Notice, contending that AMCON’s counter-affidavit revealed “copious reasons” why the order should not be set aside.
He argued that AMCON’s exhibits established that the properties attached belong to Ibrahim, “therefore he cannot claim innocence of them.”
Pinheiro stated further that AMCON made “full and substantial disclosure of all material facts in relation to the subject matter of this suit,” at the time of obtaining the orders on November 4, 2020.
Ibrahim, a lawyer, was in court Tuesday, fully robed.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa, in a nearly two-hour ruling, upheld Pinheiro’s arguments.
The judge held: “I have carefully studied the respective applications and arguments for or against of parties.
“I agree totally with the counsel for the claimant Kemi Pinheiro SAN that this suit is sui generis as Section 49(1)(2) of the AMCON Act says that the order made on the 4th of November, 2020 can be made ex-parte on mere suspicion that the rest is about to be dissipated.”
He also agreed with the claimant that the order could not be discharged on the ground that it was made in contravention of the order of FHC Judge Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo made on October 2, 2019, which has no bearing with this case.
Aikawa added: “In my opinion, we have a unique situation here. The application that led to the ex-parte order made on the 4th of November 2020 was brought pursuant to the provisions of the AMCON Act which defines this as a Federal High Court.
“I do not think that based on the above reasons, that this application has made a case out for the order of this court to be vacated.
“The appropriate order to be made in these circumstances is to dismiss same and, accordingly, this application is hereby dismissed.”
The judge adjourned further proceedings till March 9.
The Nation reports that Justice Aikawa made the interim order on November 4, and on November 18, AMCON announced that it had effectively taken over 12 properties belonging to the businessman and his firms.
The properties included the NICON Investment Ltd building Plot 242, Muhammadu Buhari Way, Central Business District, Abuja; NICON Hotels Ltd building at Plot 557, Port-Harcourt Crescent, off Gimbiya Street, Abuja and the building of NICON Lekki Ltd also at No. 5, Customs Street, Lagos.