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Alleged N69bn debt: Jimoh Ibrahim prays court to reject AMCON’s plea

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Alleged N69bn debt: Jimoh Ibrahim prays court to reject AMCON’s plea

The businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim, on Monday, urged a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to strike out a motion filed by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) against its order.

Mr Ibrahim, through his counsel, Oladele Oyelami, prayed Justice Okon Abang following the plaintiff’s absence in court to take the application.

The newsmen report that AMCON had filed a stay of execution of the order the court granted Ibrahim over the alleged N69 billion debt.

Also read: Alleged breach of contract: Company wants Osun Govt pay N69.5m

The development followed the application filed by lawyer to AMCON, Ade Adedeji, SAN, to appeal the orders made in favour of Ibrahim and his companies by Justice Abang.

Abang had, on Feb. 22, 2021, vacated the orders obtained by AMCON in aid of Taiwo Lakanu, the receiver/manager, is appointed to manage the assets of two seized companies owned by Ibrahim over alleged N69 billion debt.

The seized companies are NICON Investment Ltd and Global Fleet Oil and Gas Ltd.

The judge, in a ruling, held that it was an order made without jurisdiction because there was a subsisting order by a court differently constituted on the matter.

The judge had fixed Jan. 24 to hear the corporation’s motion.

But when the matter was called, counsel to AMCON was not in court.

However, Ibrahim’s lawyer, Oyelami, who held the brief of Chief Adeniyi Akintola, SAN, told the court that the defence had already joined issues on the appeal with AMCON.

He said his clients (Ibrahim and the Nicon Investment Limited) had filed an application challenging the appeal itself, but AMCON had not responded to their brief of argument and the application they filed in opposition to the appeal.

The lawyer said though the Court of Appeal was yet to give a date for the hearing, “giving the urgency of the matter, we have taken it upon ourselves to do a letter to the Court of Appeal which we have done asking for a date to hear the appeal since the appellant is not willing to prosecute the appeal.”

With respect to the application for stay of execution which AMCON filed, Oyelami prayed the court to strike it out but the court declined on the ground that the Court of Appeal was already aware of the matter by virtue of the appeal.

The judge said he could not make an impossible order that would go contrary to established the principles.

Abang then adjourned the matter until March 10 to abide by the outcome of the appeal .

Newsmen report that Justice Abang, in his ruling delivered in favour of Mr Ibrahim, said that AMCON misled the court by withholding material facts from the court to obtain the interim ex-parte order.

It would be recalled that Justice Nkeonye Maha of a Federal High Court, Abuja, had, on Jan. 4, 2021, granted the AMCON exparte motion.

The court had restrained the defendants, their directors, shareholders, officers, employees, agents or privies from interfering or obstructing Taiwo Lakanu (4th plaintiff) in the course of performing his duty as receiver manager whether by himself and or other persons employed by him over the 2nd and 3rd plaintiffs’ assets pending the determination of the originating summons, among others.

The judge made further consequential orders directing the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other security officers named in the application, to provide Lakanu with all the needed assistance to execute his task.

While AMCON is the 1st plaintiff, NICON Investment Limited (in receivership), Global Fleet Oil and Gas Ltd (in receivership) and Taiwo Lakanu (appointed as receiver of 1st and 2nd plaintiffs) are 2nd to 4th plaintiffs in the suit.

In the matter with suit number: FHC/ABJ/001/2021, Ibrahim, NICON Insurance Ltd, Nigeria Re-Insurance Hotels Ltd, Abuja International Hotels Ltd and NICON Hotels Ltd are 1st to 5th defendants.

But in a ruling, Justice Abang vacated the main order and the accompanying consequential orders made by Justice Maha on the grounds that AMCON withheld facts from the court and that the orders were made without jurisdiction.

Abang noted that AMCON failed to disclose that the purported debt owed by NICON Investment and Global Fleet to Union Bank, which it bought, was the subject of a pending suit before the High Court of Lagos State in a suit marked: LD/1074/2010.

He added that AMCON also withheld from the court, in obtaining the said Jan. 4 orders, that a Federal High Court in Lagos presided over by Justice J. Oguntoyinbo, granted an order on Oct. 2, 2019, staying further proceedings in a similar case, marked:  FHC/L/CS/776/2016, pending the outcome of proceedings in the suit before the High Court of Lagos.

Justice Abang added that since the order for stay of proceedings made on Oct. 2, 2019 by the Federal High Court, Lagos was not appealed, it was still subsisting and as a result, the Federal High Court in Abuja was without jurisdiction to have made the orders of Jan. 4, 2021.

The judge noted that the issue at stake was not about AMCON’s power to appoint a receiver/manager, but whether AMCON deposed to the court in Abuja, before obtaining the Jan. 4 orders, that there was a subsisting order made by the Lagos division on Oct. 2, 2019, staying proceedings.

“This is a clear case of concealment of material facts before the ex-parte order was made.

“This is a case of non-disclosure and suppression of material facts. AMCON cannot pretend that the order made on the Oct. 2, 2019 does not exist, has not appealed.

“As far as the ex-parte order, limited to the 4th of January, 2021 is concerned, it is a nullity.

“Where a trial court lacked jurisdiction to make an order, a judge of coordinate jurisdiction has jurisdiction to set same aside,” the judge said.

He added that although the AMCON’s power to appoint receiver/manager, under Section 48 of its Act, was not in doubt, the issue of whether it (AMCON) could appoint a receiver/manager over NICON Investment and Global Fleet in respect of a debt that has not been ascertained would only be determined at the hearing of the substantive suit.

The judge ordered the five defendants in the suit, including Ibrahim to file their defence to the substantive suit and adjourned until March 15 for parties to first address the court on whether it could proceed with the further hearing of the suit in view of an earlier ruling it gave on Feb. 25, 2011, in a related case.

The case was marked: FHC/L/CS/1359/2010 between Union Bank and NICON Investment and six others.

AMCON had, in applying for the Jan. 4 order, stated that sometime in 2008 and 2009 NICON Investment and Global Fleet were granted loan facility of N26 billion by Union Bank and that the facility was secured with £125 million jointly owned by both companies, kept in the NICON Investment’s fixed deposit account with the bank.

It added that when the loan was due and both companies failed to repay, Union Bank later sold the debt to it (AMCON) as a non-performing loan, adding that as at Nov. 30, 2020, the outstanding loan, with accrued interest stood at N69 billion.

AMCON said it later acted, pursuant to Section 48 of its Establishment Act, to appoint Lakanu as a receiver/manager over the assets of NICON Investment and Global Fleet in order to manage the assets and prevent them from wastage.

In a counter affidavit, Ibrahim and other defendants stated among others, that the issue of whether there is a valid debt owed to Union Bank by NICON Investment and Global Fleet the companies alleged to be in receivership, is the subject of the suit: LD/1074/2010 pending before the High Court of Lagos.

They added that Union Bank, which claimed to have sold the purported debt to AMCON, admitted in the suit before the Lagos High Court that it is in the custody of £125 million held in favour of NICON Investment.

The defendants stated that AMCON  suppressed material facts before the interim ex-parte orders were obtained on Jan. 4.

 

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Police Nab 4 Suspects Swapping POS Machines In Katsina

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Police Nab 4 Suspects Swapping POS Machines In Katsina

Those who think the major challenge in Katsina State is kidnapping or banditry may be wrong, as the Police Command in Katsina State has arrested four daring suspects who specialise in swapping their victim’s Point of Sales (POS) machines and withdrawing their money.

The spokesman of the command, ASP Abubakar Aliyu, who disclosed this while parading some suspects in Katsina on Thursday, said seven POS machines were recovered.

“In the course of investigation, it was revealed that the syndicate would criminally swap the POS machines of unsuspecting victims with fake ones that looked identical, and then criminally withdraw money from the victims’ accounts.

“The suspects had swindled five victims who were mostly business owners over ₦4.7 million..

“The suspects confessed to the commission of the crime and investigation is ongoing. At the end of the investigation, the suspect will be charged to court,” he said.

The PPRO added that with the aid of some good samaritans, their operatives succeeded in arresting the suspects while attempting to rob a commercial tricycle rider as other members of the syndicate escaped.

Aliyu said, “The syndicate’s modus operandi is to drug their victims by offering them drinks laced with sedatives before robbing them of their tricycles.

“In the course of an investigation, two other victims identified the suspect, corroborating his involvement in the crimes robbing them of their tricycles valued at ₦1.6 million, and ₦2.250 million respectively.”

According to him, the command had also succeeded in arresting a suspected member of a syndicate of armed robbers who have been terrorising commercial tricyclists (KEKE NAPEP) in the state.

He explained that the suspect was arrested in connection with a string of armed robberies targeting unsuspecting commercial tricycle riders.

According to Aliyu, the command has also succeeded in arresting another suspect in connection with a rape case of a 16- year-old girl.

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Parents Arrested After 3-year-old Dies Of Starvation

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Parents Arrested After 3-year-old Dies Of Starvation

A murder investigation has been launched into the parents of a 3-year-old child who died of starvation in Austria.

Police in the western Austrian state of Tyrol said on Wednesday that emergency services were informed of the child’s death in the district of Kufstein, near the border to Germany, earlier on Monday.

“According to preliminary autopsy results, the child died due to severe malnutrition,” the police said.

The parents, Austrian nationals aged 25 and 26, were arrested, while their three surviving children aged between 1 and 6 years old were placed in the care of child welfare services.

– dpa

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Antonio-Ramirez: American Charged With $1.2m Fraud Knows Fate Sept.10

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Antonio-Ramirez: American Charged With $1.2m Fraud Knows Fate Sept.10

An Ikeja Special Offences Court on Wednesday reserved judgment until Sept. 10 in the case of an American, Marco Antonio-Ramirez, charged with $1.2 million fraud.

 Justice Mojisola Dada will also, on Sept. 10, deliver judgment in another charge bordering on  $368,698  fraud against the same Antonio-Ramirez.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Antonio-Ramirez on an amended 16-count charge bordering on  $1.2 million fraud.

EFCC, in one of the counts, alleged that the defendant dishonourably converted to his personal use, an aggregate sum of $545,000 belonging to one Mr Godson Echegile.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that the defendant, between  July 12, 2012, and Nov. 7, 2012, in Lagos, dishonourably converted to his personal use, an aggregate sum of $314,800 belonging to one Alhaji Abubakar Umar.

The commission also submitted that the defendant, between Feb. 19, 2013, and April 18, 2013, in Lagos, dishonourably converted to his personal use, an aggregate sum of $230,000, also the property of  Umar.

In the separate charge, EFCC alleged that the defendant obtained $368,698 fraudulently.

The defendant is charged on nine counts in the amended separate charge.

In one of the counts, EFCC stated that the defendant, with intent to defraud, obtained $250,000 from one Mr Gabriel Edeoghon under false representation that the sum was his investment in his company.

EFCC also alleged that the defendant, with intent to defraud, obtained  $50,281 from one Mr Oludare Talabi under the false representation that the sum was to procure U.S. L1 Visa, a representation he knew to be untrue.

Antonio-Ramirez, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges, on arraignment.

The trial suffered several adjournments occasioned by the absence of defence counsel, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN).

However, the adoption of final written addresses by counsel to both parties occurred on Wednesday.

Following the adoption, the judge adjourned the two cases until Sept. 10 for judgment. 

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