Law News
AMCON Appeals Order Discharging Takeover of Bi-Courtney’s Assets
Babalakin

Babalakin

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has appealed an order of the Federal High Court in Lagos discharging an earlier order empowering the agency to takeover the assets of Bi-Courtney Group, the concessionaire of Terminal 2 of the Murtala Muhammad Airport, Lagos.

Justice Ibrahim Buba, had in a ruling on Monday, vacated an order made by Justice Okon Abang, empowering AMCON to takeover the assets of Bi-Courtney Group over an agreed N50 billion debt.

In the order, Justice Abang had equally approved the appointment of a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), as the receiver/manager over Bi-Courtney’s assets.

Justice Buba, in the ruling, however upturned Justice Abang’s orders, saying the orders were made in the face of previous orders and suits in respect of the subject matter, and so the orders amounted to an abuse of court process.

Dissatisfied with the order, AMCON, through its lawyer, Agbakoba, filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal in Lagos, where he formulated four grounds before the appellate court.

In the first ground, Agbakoba argued that Justice Buba erred in law and misdirected himself when he heard and granted the oral application by lawyers to the Bi-Courtney Group to vacate the receivership, possession and freezing orders made by Justice Abang on September 22, 2014 without the application being fixed for hearing.

He contended that Part XIV of AMCON Practice Directions, 2013, is clear that all applications other than a simple application must be filed and served on each party before hearing.

In ground two, the appellant (AMCON) argued that Justice Buba equally erred and misapplied the law when he held that the orders of Justice Abang amounted to an abuse of court process, as the cause of action in the suit before Justice Buba was different from that, which Justice Abang based his orders.

Besides, the appellant added that there was a full disclosure of all relevant materials and facts at the time Justice Abang decided to grant the orders, and as such, Justice Buba was legally wrong to arrive at the conclusion that AMCON misled Justice Abang.

In ground three, AMCON averred that Justice Buba was equally wrong when he held that the discharge of Justice Abang’s orders had concluded the suit, as Sections 49 and 50 of AMCON Act allow the appellant a period of 14 days from the date an order is granted to file a debt recovery action.

In ground four, the appellant submitted that Justice Buba also erred in law by setting aside Justice Abang’s orders when in fact, the oral application before him by lawyers to the Bi-Courtney Group were only for a suspension of the execution of Justice Abang’s orders, pending the hearing of an application to set aside the said orders.

According to AMCON, the order by Justice Buba setting aside Justice Abang’s orders were made without jurisdiction, as it was trite that a court cannot grant prayers not sought by any of the parties before it.

AMCON is therefore asking the Court of Appeal in Lagos to set aside the orders made by Justice Buba setting aside the orders of Justice Abang.

Meanwhile, Agbakoba, in a statement, also revealed that a motion to stay execution of the order made by Justice Buba would soon be filed.

The senior lawyer added: “We have appealed the decision discharging the order and we are confident that the appeal has a strong chance of success. An application for stay of proceedings will also be filed.”

Agbakoba further stressed that he was taken aback by a statement credited to Bi-Courtney Group describing Justice Abang’s orders as “Kangaroo orders”, adding that such a statement coming from the chairman of the group, Wale Babalakin, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), was to say the least unfortunate.
He added: “The Bi-Courtney Group however cannot deny being indebted to AMCON. They have not denied that there is a valid settlement agreement with AMCON and that they accepted the offer to pay N50 billion as final settlement of the debt.

“If the Bi-Courtney Group is not indebted to AMCON as they allege, why did they approach AMCON for settlement and accept to pay N50 billion in final settlement of the debt?

“It was only an afterthought that Babalakin, as evident in his e-mail to me, has refused to pay. It was the refusal of Bi-Courtney Group to implement the terms of the AMCON offer including the agreement to withdraw and discontinue all pending suits within 30 days of its acceptance that made AMCON approach the Federal High Court and obtained the receivership orders granted by Justice O.E Abang.”

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