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March 1, 2021

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A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court has declined an application to vacate an interim order used by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to seize properties belonging to billionaire businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim, for an alleged N69.4 billion debt.

Rilwan Aikawa, the judge, held that the order, which he granted in November last year, subsists.

Mr Ibrahim, a lawyer, and his companies, NICON Investment Ltd and Global Fleet Oil and Gas Ltd, had urged the court to set aside the order for “non-disclosure and misrepresentation of material facts”.

They further urged the court “to order AMCON to pay N50 billion indemnity for its alleged failure to conduct due diligence before obtaining the said order and for misrepresentation and concealment of fact”.

Ruling

But Mr Aikawa upheld the argument of AMCON’s lawyer, Kemi Pinheiro, that the asset recovery agency made “full and substantial disclosure of all material facts” at the time of obtaining the orders on November 4, 2020.

He further argued that AMCON’s exhibits established that the properties attached belong to Mr Ibrahim and “therefore he cannot claim innocence of them.”

Mr Pinheiro also said 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.

In a ruling that lasted nearly two hours, the judge upheld Mr Pinheiro’s argument.

“I have carefully studied the respective applications and arguments for or against of parties,” he began.

“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 res 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, Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, made on October 2, 2019, which has no bearing with this case.

“In my opinion, we have a unique situation here,” Mr Aikawa continued.

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READ ALSO: N69 billion Debt: AMCON freezes Jimoh Ibrahim’s account, takes over assets

“The application that led to the ex-parte order made on the 4th of November 2020 was brought pursuant to the provisions of 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 the same and, accordingly, this application is hereby dismissed.”

The judge then adjourned further proceedings till March 9.

The judge had granted the interim order on November 4.

On November 18, AMCON announced that it had taken over 12 properties belonging to the businessman and his firms.

The properties include 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 hosting NICON Lekki Ltd at No. 5, Customs Street, Lagos.

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