The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has frozen the bank accounts of controversial businessman and politician, Jimoh Ibrahim, and seized some of his assets over his N69 billion debts.
The agency on Wednesday took over the asset following an order granted by Justice R.M. Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Altogether, AMCON seized 12 property from Mr Ibrahim. They include the building housing 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.
The others 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, Apapa Road, 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.
The order for the seizures was given in respect of a suit filed by AMCON in 2016, with file number No FHL/L/CL/776/2016.
The court had earlier ordered the seizure of some asset from Mr Ibrahim in 2016 over his debts to AMCON but he obtained a court injunction a month later discharging the interim order granted to AMCON.
Justice Aikawa, however, gave a fresh order on November 4 and AMCON reportedly carried out the seizure on Wednesday.
AMCON’s spokesperson, Jude Nwauzor, in a statement quoted by TheCable newspaper, said Mr Ibrahim’s property were taken over with the help of court bailiffs and police officers on Wednesday as mandated by the court.
“The matter between Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim and the corporation has been interminable 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;s spokesperson said.
“Since the purchase of the EBA from Union Bank, AMCON has offered the obligor incredible exit opportunities to no avail. And as is tradition, AMCON has for years explored all avenues to resolve the debt amicably, but Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim and his companies – Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited and NICON Investment Limited, have remained recalcitrant and unenthusiastic to repay the huge debt, which has left AMCON with no other choice than to activate the full force of its amended Act, signed into law last year by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
A history of corruption cases
Mr Ibrahim has a history of many unresolved corruption cases.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) filed charges of tax evasion for five years, worth N4.86 billion. The agency had also sued him and two others at the defunct Air Nigeria for alleged forgery of Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) in 2012.
They were accused of presenting the forged certificate to the Minister of Interior for the renewal of expatriate quota positions for 20 pilots and 10 other persons .
In the same year, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) quizzed Mr Ibrahim over money laundering allegations. That incident was over controversial transactions Mr Ibrahim was claimed to have made in setting up businesses abroad and in purchasing a private jet.
This was at a time when he was facing trouble as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Newswatch magazine. His staff at Global Media Mirror Limited, a group of newspapers that have all since been rested, had then accused him of not paying their salaries for months. The workers on one occasion stormed the venue of a public lecture he was giving to demand payment of their salaries.
In 2013, the Federal High Court in Abuja awarded the FIRS more than N200 million judgment debts against Mr Ibrahim’s NICON Insurance after the company refused to meet its financial commitments to the federal government.
FIRS said the two firms failed to pay N99.92 million, being the balance of its entitlements under its Staff Welfare Insurance Scheme since 2007/2008.
He was also sued the same year in a New York court by a US firm, Aersale Inc, over a $8 million debt. Following the development, Mr Ibrahim was barred from speaking at an anti-corruption conference organised by the Central Bank of Nigeria in conjunction with the Nigerian Police and the London Metropolitan Police.
Again in 2017, it was reported that former NICON workers filed a bankruptcy suit against Mr Ibrahim. They accused him of owing N1.5 billion from salaries and allowances not paid from May 2007.
Calls and text messages to Mr Ibrahim for his reaction were not acknowledged or replied.