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AMCON loses battle over Lagos Federal Secretariat Complex


Managing Director, AMCON, Ahmed Kuru

Six years after fierce legal battle between the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Wale Babalakin and one of his companies, Resort International Limited over the soul of the Federal Secretariat Complex, Ikoyi, Lagos, the matter has been resolved in favour of the defendants.

AMCON and Babalakin have been in a legal battle for the possession of Federal Secretariat Complex, Ikoyi since 2012.

In the suit filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos against Babalakin and one of his companies, Resort International Limited, in November 2012, AMCON is seeking an order for the repayment of the sum of N20.5 billion comprising principal sum and accrued interest as at October 2011 on various loan facilities allegedly granted to the businessman and personally guaranteed by his company.

The asset management firm also sought an order granting it the power of sale or disposal of a parcel of land known as Alma Beach property, and the parcel of land known as the Federal Secretariat Complex, Phase 1 & 2, Ikoyi in partial or final liquidation of the debt.
AMCON further urged the court to grant it the power of sale or disposal of all the fuel hydrant tanks situated at the Domestic Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, owned by the first defendant and given as security for the debt, or in the alternative, an order of the court appointing AMCON as receivers over the business and assets of Resort International Limited and Wale Babalakin for the purpose of managing same to fully realise the alleged judgment debt.
But in a counter-claim, Babalakin and his company contended that they are not indebted to AMCON but that a N4 billion facility offer to the company is an equity contribution which was wrongly classified as a loan from First Bank Plc.
They claimed that it was not a loan that they are obligated to repay with interest and same cannot be acquired by AMCON.
The defendants also urged the court to set aside the purported loan for being inconsistent with the provisions of the AMCON Act (2010) as amended and the CBN guideline for the operations of AMCON and to declare same as illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

It was the contention of the counter-claimants that the publication of their names and that of their directors by the AMCON in the list of delinquent debtors in relation to loan facilities purportedly acquired by the first Defendant which are the subjects of pending suits between the counter-claimants and the defendants is unconstitutional, illegal, an infringement of the rights of the counter-claimants and an affront to the judicial powers of the court and the administration of justice system.
In his judgment on the suit: FHC/L/CS/1296/2012 , Justice Ibrahim Buba, dismissed the claims of the federal government and AMCON.
The court also agreed with the arguments of the counter-claimants and ordered the claimants (FG and AMCON) to published a full and complete retraction and apology to the counter-claimants (Babalakin and his company) in three national dailies and to forward to them a written undertaking that it will cease from publishing similar allegations.
The also ordered the federal government to comply with the terms of the arbitral award rendered on December 3, 2015, which awarded N55 billion to the counter-claimants.
It also awarded the sum of N3 billion damages against the federal government and AMCON in favour of Babalakin for publishing his name in a national newspaper in 2016, as a First Bank’s debtor.

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