13th December 2021
The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has dismissed the appeal filed by the Chairman of Global Fleet Group, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, challenging the seizure of his 12 assets and freezing of all his accounts over alleged N69.4billion debt by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
The appellate court upheld the November 18, 2020 order of Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Lagos which authorised AMCON to take over Ibrahim’s assets.
The justices upheld the arguments of AMCON’s lead counsel, Dr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), who prayed the court to dismiss Ibrahim’s application.
Chief Niyi Akinola (SAN) is the counsel for the 1st defendant, Ibrahim, while Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) is for the 2nd defendant, Global Fleet Group.
AMCON, following Justice Aikawa’s order, took effective possession of all 12 properties through its Debt Recovery Agent – Pinheiro Legal Partners.
The 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 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, 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.
In addition to the take over of the properties, the court 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 are defendants in the suit.
Following the execution of the order, NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited and Jimoh Ibrahim, through Akintola, filed a motion at the Federal High Court dated November 19, 2020, seeking to discharge Justice Aikawa’s order.
Some other entities which AMCON alleged were linked to Ibrahim, such as NICON Insurance Limited, Nigerian-Re-Insurance Limited, Abuja Hotel Limited and NICON Hotels Limited also filed an application asking the judge to discharge the said order.
After hearing the two applications and the arguments canvassed by parties through their respective counsel, Justice Aikawa dismissed both applications by his ruling of February 16, 2021.
Dissatisfied, both sets of applicants filed separate appeals at the Court of Appeal.
AMCON was represented in the appeals by Pinheiro, while the first set of appellants was represented by Akintola and the second set by Ayorinde.
At the hearing of the appeals on September 30, 2021, Pinheiro raised a preliminary objection, contending that the appeal was incompetent because the appellants failed to seek leave of the court before filing it’.
In a unanimous decision yesterday, the Court of Appeal upheld AMCON’s preliminary objection and accordingly dismissed both appeals.