Bi-Courtney Limited Chairman, Dr. Wale Babalakin
To sue corporation for N50bn
Chike-Obi: It was a clerical error
Bi-Courtney Limited (BCL) yesterday refuted claims that it owes the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) N13.9 billion.
According to BCL’s Chairman, Dr. Wale Babalakin, who addressed a press conference in Lagos at the same premises purportedly taken over by AMCON, said the Federal Government still has a debt of N132.5 billion to pay BCL.
The company’s rebuttal followed reports yesterday which claimed that AMCON had taken over a property belonging to the company on Victoria Island, Lagos, in lieu of the purported indebtedness, following an ex-parte order it obtained from a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Describing the action as a “monumental fraud and executive recklessness,” Babalakin said it had concluded arrangement to sue AMCON for a sum of N50billion as minimal claims for the damages its actions had caused the company.
He added: “AMCON is fully aware of the facts of this case and it is party to it through GTBank, yet, surreptitiously it obtained an ex-parte order from the Federal High Court to take over the premises without discussing the issues.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we are not indebted to AMCON or any federal agency. On the contrary, we have a judgment credit of N132 billion in our favour. The courts have directed that if we owe any debt to the Federal Government, it should be deducted from this amount of money.”
The company said it relied on the judgment of an Abuja division of the Federal High Court, delivered on April 5, 2012, which ordered the Attorney General of the Federation to compel the concerned agency of government to “immediately comply with the judgment of this honourable court by making without any further delay the payment of N132, 540, 580, 304.00 to the plaintiff/applicant (Bi-Courtney).”
The company also drew attention to the paragraph four of the court order, which directed “the defendant/respondent (Attorney General of the Federation), being the Chief Law Officer and legal representative of the Federal Government of Nigeria to set off from the above-mentioned N132,540,580,304.00, any claims agreed with the plaintiff/applicant to be due from the plaintiff/applicant to any agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria, including but not limited to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria”.
Babalakin further disclosed that the property, ostensibly taken over by AMCON, “is owned by Bunbury Limited and was never mortgaged to any bank and so could not have been inherited by AMCON.”
“The issue of ownership of this property is before the Lagos High Court. In the said court, AMCON, through its Predecessor-in-Title, GTBank, claimed that the property had been sold to a ‘Red Company’ for N6.5 billion. If as claimed under oath by GTBank/AMCON, the property has been sold to a third party, how then was GTBank able to transfer a property already sold to AMCON? This is monumental fraud.”
Equally, Babalakin wondered how it was possible for the matter to be heard ex-parte, “even though there was a preliminary objection in the file disclosing all the pending suits and reasons why the order could not be granted”.
He added that “AMCON in its characteristic cavalier attitude did not disclose the address of the property; yet, the court erroneously granted it inexplicably.”
When contacted on the development, AMCON’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mustafa Chike-Obi who was clearly angry, explained that: “There was a clerical error. The judge said 43A Victoria Island, but it was written as 43, Afribank Street, Victoria Island and Babalakin wants to take advantage of that. But that will be corrected tomorrow (today). But I want to let Babalakin know that if he is used to gaming the system, he will not be able to game AMCON. He owes AMCON and he is going to pay. Nobody that owes AMCON will be allowed to go free,” he added.