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Jimoh Ibrahim, NICON lose appeal against AMCON over alleged N69.4bn debt

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A Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has dismissed an appeal by the Chairman of Global Fleet Group, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, challenging the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria’s (AMCON) seizure of his 12 assets and freezing of all his accounts over an alleged N69.4 billion debt.

The development was disclosed on Friday by AMCON’s Head of Corporate Communications Department, Jude Nwauzor, shortly after the appellate court ruled on the appeal.

Nwauzor stated that the justices upheld the arguments of AMCON’s lead counsel and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Dr Kemi Pinheiro.

Pinheiro had prayed the court to dismiss the application of Ibrahim who is the first defendant and that of his company who is the second defendant, filled by their lawyers, Niyi Akintola, SAN, and Bolaji Ayorinde SAN, respectively.

In response to the order of Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos issued on November 18, 2020, AMCON had taken possession of all 12 properties of the defendants through its Debt Recovery Agent – Pinheiro Legal Partners, Nwauzor explained.

These assets include the building of 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.

Other properties 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, 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.

In addition to the takeover of the properties, the lower court had also ordered the freezing of all accounts belonging to Ibrahim and his companies, including Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited and NICON Investment Limited – all of whom were defendants in the suit marked FHL/L/CL/776/2016.

Read also: Jimoh Ibrahim moves to halt asset seizure by AMCON over N69.4bn debt

The statement read, “AMCON, in November 2020, following a court order seized the properties of Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim over an alleged debt of N69.4 billion, which was sold to AMCON by Union Bank as a non-performing loan in the early days of AMCON.

“AMCON had sometime on November 4, 2020 through their lawyers, Kemi Pinheiro SAN, obtained an ex parte order (Under Sections 49 & 50 of the AMCON Act as amended) against NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited, and Jimoh Ibrahim, freezing their accounts in various banks, as well as attaching various properties of the companies, which properties included: NICON Investment Limited’s Building at Plot 242, Muhammadu Buhari way, Central Business District, Abuja, NICON Hotels Limited’s Building, Plot 557, Port-Harcourt Crescent, off Gimbiya Street, Abuja, NICON Lekki Limited’s Building, No. 5, Customs Street, Lagos, Abuja International Hotels Limited’s Building – No. 3, Hospital Road, Lagos, Residential Apartment, at Road 2, House A14, Victoria Garden City, Lagos, NICON Hotels Building, Plot 3, Road 3, Victoria Garden City, Ajah, Lagos and NICON Luxury Hotel’s Building, Garki 1, Abuja.

“Following the execution of the order, NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited and Jimoh Ibrahim through their lawyers Chief Adeniyi Akintola SAN filed a motion dated November 19, 2020, seeking to discharge/set aside the order, which was made by Justice R.M. Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

“Some other entities, which AMCON alleged was linked to Jimoh Ibrahim to wit: NICON Insurance Limited, Nigerian-Re-Insurance Limited, Abuja Hotel Limited and NICON Hotels Limited, also filed an application to discharge the said order of 4th day of November 4, 2020.

“After hearing the two applications and the arguments canvassed by parties through their respective counsel, Hon. Justice R.M. Aikawa proceeded to dismiss both applications by his ruling of February 16, 2021.”

According to Nwauzor, following the earlier ruling of the court, the defendants filed independent appeals in the Court of Appeal.

At the hearing of the appeals on September 30, Pinheiro raised a preliminary objection to the appeal contending that the appeal was incompetent because the appellants failed to seek leave prior to the filing of the appeal.

However, in a unanimous decision on Friday, the appellate court upheld the preliminary objection of AMCON and dismissed both appeals.

“The implication of this is that AMCON remains in possession of the properties attached by the order of Hon. Justice R.M. Aikawa on November 4, 2021,” the statement added.

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