Alleged N50bn debt: Court restores Jimoh Ibrahim’s companies

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday discharged an interim order granted to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to take over some assets belonging to business mogul, Jimoh Ibrahim, over an alleged indebtedness.

Justice Abdulazeez Anka set aside the ex parte order following an application by lawyer to AMCON, Yusuf Ali, that parties have decided to explore amicable settlement of the dispute.

A sister court, presided over by Justice Saliu Saidu, had on June 14, 2016 restrained NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited and Mr Jimoh Ibrahim from dealing with any assets or funds belonging to NICON Investment, Global Fleet Oil and other assets.

But, NICON Insurance Limited, Nigeria Re-Insurance Hotels Limited, Abuja International Hotels Limited and NICON Hotels Limited had in a Motion on Notice, filed by their lawyers, led by Chief Niyi Akintola and Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, prayed the court to set aside and discharge the ex parte order on the grounds that AMCON deliberately failed to make full disclosure of all material facts before the court.

At the resumed hearing of the applications to discharge the ex parte order yesterday, AMCON lawyer, Yusuf Ali, told the court that since the provision of the Federal High Court rules encourage amicable settlement of dispute, parties have decided to meet and report back to court within two weeks.

The claim that Ibrahim kept £137million with Union Bank was undisputed by AMCON. Ibrahim’s lawyer said since that fact is undisputed there is no basis for the interim order of the court.

“In the spirit of good faith to show that we are doing this to promote equity and justice, we agree that the ex parte order should be suspended so that parties can explore the issue of settlement. We have an agreement that each of the parties will nominate one chartered accountant each that will carry out forensic audit of the account. Since Union Bank is the principal bank that gave out the loan, the accountants will meet at Union Banks headquarters and they are to report back within two weeks,” Ali stated.

Confirming the agreement, Chief Niyi Akintola, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde and Jimoh Ibrahim who led a team of lawyers urged the court to set aside the ex parte order so as to give parties unfetter access to meet and report back to the court.

Addressing the court, Akintola submitted that parties have agreed to explore amicable settlement of the dispute adding that the applicants have appointed the firm of Adewale Folowosele & Associate to meet with those that will be nominated by AMCON and Union Bank.

“We have appointed Adewale Folowosele & Associate and await that of AMCON and Union Bank respectively. Consequently, I apply that the ex parte order of June 21, 2016 be discharged and parties will return to court within two weeks.”

However, Ali told the court that as soon as names of accountants nominated by AMCON and Union Bank are ready their names will be forwarded to the applicants.

In a short ruling, Justice Anka discharged the order and adjourned the matter till August 1, 2016.

Earlier, Akintola and Ayorinde in their applications had told the court that the properties attached by the interim order belong to the applicants who were not parties to the suit filed by AMCON thereby making it illegal, unlawful and contrary to the provisions of Section 28 of the NICON Insurance Corporation of Nigeria Act, Cap N54 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Speaking on the development, Ibrahim said the interim order is uncalled for, abnormal and a misrepresentation. He reiterated that having deposited 137million pounds in Union Bank running at interest of 5% from 2010 to present date, the total amount due to be paid to him is over N90billion, about twice what AMCON claimed against him.

He expressed confidence in the ability of the judiciary to come to terms with justice and advice businessmen to always take their cases to the judiciary which is the last hope of the common man.

Ibrahim gave the glory of his victory to “God and hopeless Nigerians whom we tried to create jobs for.”

He also said that “truth is constant, no matter the time.”

 

 

 

 

 

Ayorinde submitted that the applicants were neither borrowers nor beneficiaries nor were they guarantors to the debt owed to the plaintiff (AMCON).

He further argued that AMCON failed woefully to comply with the condition precedence by serving a pre Action Notice on the applicants nor has the plaintiff sought the leave of court before joining the applicants to the main suit in their writ of summon purportedly filed on June 27, 2016.

“We submit that a court is only competent when a case comes before it by due process of law and upon fulfilment of any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction. Any defect on the competence of the court is fatal to the proceedings before the court and renders it a nullity.

“We also submit that the only condition under which the honourable court can entertain the application of a person who is not a party to the suit is when the party has first sought for and obtained the leave of the court before bringing the action,’’ Ayorinde argued.

The applicants had in a 24-pragraph affidavit in support of the Motion on Notice deposed to by one Gbenga Onilude, a litigation officer in the law firm of B. Ayorinde & Co, stated that none of the properties attached in the ex parte order belong to any of the defendants; NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited and Ibrahim.

According to the deponent, the ex parte order was obtained via suppression and misrepresentation of material facts by the plaintiff (AMCON) and it was obtained in bad faith against persons who are not parties to the suit.

Speaking on the development, Ibrahim said the interim order is uncalled for, abnormal and a misrepresentation. He reiterated that having deposited 137million pounds in Union Bank running at interest of 5% from 2010 to present date, the total amount due to be paid to him is over N90billion, about twice what AMCON claimed against him.

He expressed confidence in the ability of the judiciary to come to terms with justice and advice businessmen to always take their cases to the judiciary which is the last hope of the common man.

Ibrahim gave the glory of his victory to “God and hopeless Nigerians whom we tried to create jobs for.”

He also said that “truth is constant, no matter the time.”