A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday discharged an interim injunction empowering the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria to take over some assets belonging to Nigerian businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim, over an alleged indebtedness of N50bn.
Justice Abdulazeez Anka vacated the interim order and restored possession of the companies to Ibrahim following an application to that effect by AMCON, through its lawyer, Mr. Yusuf Ali (SAN).
Justice Anka, who was sitting as a vacation judge, also released all the bank accounts of Ibrahim and his companies frozen since June 14, 2016, by another judge of the court, Justice Saliu Saidu.
Justice Saidu had ordered AMCON to take over Ibrahim’s companies pending the determination of a debt recovery suit filed by the corporation against Ibrahim and his companies.
The companies involved are NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Re-Insurance Company Plc, NICON Insurance Company Plc, Nigeria Stockbrokers Limited and NICON Trustees Limited.
AMCON claimed that NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited and Ibrahim were indebted to it to the tune of over N50bn, resulting in “protracted negotiations and court battles.”
Its lawyer, Ali, had, through an ex parte application, begged Justice Saidu to allow the corporation to seize the defendants’ assets in Abuja, Lagos, Dubai and London, as part of AMCON’s renewed efforts to recover an alleged debt of over N4.5tn being owed it by about 400 obligors, which it said had become “recalcitrant despite obvious efforts of the corporation.”
At the Monday proceedings, however, Ali urged Justice Anka to vacate the interim injunction, saying the parties had decided to explore out-of-court settlement in line with the provision of the Federal High Court, which, he said, encouraged disputing parties to embrace amicable resolution.
Ali stated, “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 Bank’s headquarters and they are to report back within two weeks.”
The position was confirmed by the defendants counsel, comprising Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN), Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), Ibrahim himself, who was also robed as a lawyer.
The defendants had earlier filed a motion on notice, seeking to discharge the interim injunction on the claim that AMCON failed to present the full material facts to the court when it obtained the restraining order.
The lawyers claimed that the properties attached to the interim order belonged to applicants, who were not parties to the suit filed by AMCON, describing the takeover of the said companies as illegal, unlawful.