The Federal High Court in Abuja has set Monday for May 25 the hearing of a petition brought by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), asking for a stay of execution of the orders it has granted to the businessman Jimoh Ibrahim for an alleged debt of 69 billion naira.
The new date was set following the inability of Judge Okon Abang to preside over today’s proceedings.
The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) observes that AMCON, through its lawyer, Ade Adedeji, SAN, had indicated that it was appealing the orders made in favor of Ibrahim and his companies by Judge Abang in filing a request for a stay of execution bearing the prosecution number: FHC / ABJ / 001/2021 before the court.
Judge Abang on February 22 overturned orders obtained by AMCON in favor of Taiwo Lakanu, the receiver / manager, whom he had appointed to manage the assets of two foreclosed companies belonging to Mr. Ibrahim on an alleged debt of 69 billion naira.
The companies seized are NICON Investment Ltd and Global Fleet Oil and Gas Ltd.
The judge, in a decision, concluded that it was an order made without jurisdiction because there was an order in force of a differently constituted tribunal in the matter.
Justice Abang said AMCON misled the court by denying it important facts to get the interim ex parte order.
NAN observes that Judge Nkeonye Maha of the Abuja Federal High Court had, on January 4, granted AMCON’s express request.
The court had prevented the defendants, their directors, shareholders, officers, employees, agents or associates from interfering or hindering Taiwo Lakanu (4th plaintiff) in the performance of his duties as receiver-manager, whether by him- itself or by other persons employed by him on the property of the 2nd and 3rd plaintiffs pending the determination of the originating summons, among others.
The judge issued further consequential orders directing the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other security officers named in the application to provide Lakanu with all the assistance necessary to carry out his task.
While AMCON is the 1st plaintiff, NICON Investment Limited (in receivership), Global Fleet Oil and Gas Ltd (in receivership) and Taiwo Lakanu (appointed as receiver of the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs) are the 2nd to 4th plaintiffs in pursuit.
In the case with the prosecution number: FHC / ABJ / 001/2021, Ibrahim, NICON Insurance Ltd, Nigeria Re-Insurance Hotels Ltd, Abuja International Hotels Ltd and NICON Hotels Ltd are the 1st to 5th defendants.
But in a ruling, Judge Abang set aside the main order and the accompanying consecutive orders made by Judge Maha on the grounds that AMCON had concealed facts from the court and the orders had been rendered without jurisdiction.
Abang noted that AMCON did not disclose that the alleged debt owed by NICON Investment and Global Fleet to Union Bank, which it had purchased, was the subject of a pending action in the State High Court. de Lagos in an action marked: LD / 1074/2010.
He added that AMCON also refused in court, obtaining the said orders of January 4, that a Federal High Court in Lagos chaired by Judge J. Oguntoyinbo, issued an order on October 2, 2019, suspending the prosecution of the procedure in a similar framework. case, noted: FHC / L / CS / 776/2016, pending the outcome of the proceedings before the High Court of Lagos.
Judge Abang added that since the Stay of Proceedings Order issued on October 2, 2019 by the Federal High Court, Lagos had not been appealed against, it still stood and, therefore, the High Court Abuja federal government was not competent to issue the decrees of January 4.
The judge noted that the issue at stake was not AMCON’s power to appoint a receiver / manager, but whether AMCON had filed in Abuja court, before obtaining the Jan. 4 orders, that there was a valid order issued by the Lagos Division on October 2, 2019, stay of proceedings.
“This is clearly a case of covering up important facts before the ex parte order is made.
“This is a case of non-disclosure and suppression of material facts. AMCON cannot claim that the order issued on October 2, 2019 does not exist, not having appealed.
“Regarding the ex parte order, limited to January 4, 2021, it is void.
“Where a trial court lacked jurisdiction to make an order, a judge of coordinated jurisdiction has jurisdiction to set it aside,” the judge said.
He added that while AMCON’s power to appoint a receiver / manager, under section 48 of its law, is not in doubt, whether it (AMCON) could appoint a receiver / manager on NICON Investment and Global Fleet in respect of a debt which has not been established would only be determined at the hearing of the case on the merits.
The judge ordered the five defendants in the lawsuit, including Jimoh Ibrahim, to file their defense to the lawsuit on the merits and adjourned until March 15 for the parties to go to court first to see if it could continue the hearing of the prosecution with a view to a previous decision. he delivered on February 25, 2011 in a related case, marked: FHC / L / CS / 1359/2010 between Union Bank and NICON Investment and six others.
AMCON had, in seeking the Jan. 4 order, stated that in 2008 and 2009, NICON Investment and Global Fleet had obtained a naira 26 billion loan facility from Union Bank, and that the facility was guaranteed by naira 125 million. pounds sterling jointly held by the two companies. , kept in the NICON Investment term deposit account with the bank.
He added that when the loan matured and the two companies failed to repay, Union Bank then sold him the debt (AMCON) as a non-performing loan, adding that as of November 30, 2020, the outstanding loan, together with interest amounted to 69 billion naira.
AMCON stated that it acted later, in accordance with section 48 of its Establishment Law, to appoint Lakanu as receiver / manager of the assets of NICON Investment and Global Fleet in order to manage the assets and avoid their being overwhelmed. waste.
In a counter-affidavit, Ibrahim and other defendants said, among other things, that the question of whether there is a valid debt owed to Union Bank by NICON Investment and Global Fleet, the companies alleged to be in receivership, does l ‘subject of proceedings: LD / 1074/2010 pending before the High Court of Lagos.
They added that Union Bank, which claimed to have sold the alleged debt to AMCON, admitted in the Lagos High Court lawsuit that it was in the custody of £ 125million held in favor of NICON Investment.
The defendants said AMCON removed important facts before the interim ex parte orders were obtained on January 4.