As EFCC detains Avian Specialty CEO, Gbenga James, over unpaid loans
Demonstrating its resolve to recover the loans that its obligors owe, the Asset Management Company of Nigeria has seized choice properties belonging to billionaire business man, Alhaji Abubakar Aliyu, chairman of AA Group, after a Supreme Court ruling against the Kogi-born businessman. Aliyu’s debt was part of the non-performing loans that AMCON bought over from ailing financial institutions and other businesses.
That was as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arrested Chief Executive Officer of Avian Specialty, Gbenga James, on account of his indebtedness to AMCON. An EFCC source confirmed that James was detained by the agency following his arrest at his Ibadan residence last week.
THISDAY gathered that while Aliyu’s indebtedness to AMCON was put at N1.9 billion, that of James was estimated to be about N3 billion. The two debts were bought over from Union Bank.
A judicial source in the know listed the seized properties, located in prime places in the nation’s capital, as “No 32 Mediterranean Street, Maitama, Abuja; No 42, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja; plot 101, Cadastral ZONE B09, Kado, Abuja; and plot 1189, Cadastral Zone A05, Maitama Abuja.”
THISDAY investigation revealed that the legal battles to take over the choice properties were long drawn and ended at the Supreme Court. It was learnt that the apex court entered judgement against Aliyu when it was convinced that he could not pay up the debt.
The EFCC source, who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity, said, “We have several pending cases that were instituted by AMCOM bordering on loan recovery besides that of Alhaji Abubakar Aliyu. I can confirm to you that we have arrested Managing Director of Avian Specialty, Gbenga James. He was arrested in his Ibadan residence and is currently being detained in our office pending his arraignment in court next week (this week).”
Following the appearance of the new management of AMCON at the National Assembly recently, the lawmakers had tasked the management of the corporation to recover all loans owed by its obligors. This was followed up with publications in national dailies of the names of debtors.
THISDAY gathered that after spirited efforts by the corporation to get some of the debtors to work out a workable payment plan failed, the Ahmed Kuru-led new management of AMCON commenced enforcement action against its debtors about three weeks ago.
“Some of the debtors, particularly the big boys, thought it was still business as usual and ignored several demand notices by AMCON for the non-performing loans. That was why the corporation swung into a full loan recovery mode, the source said.
It was gathered that several properties belonging to some notable Nigerians have been taken over by the corporation, though THISDAY could not obtain the details of the properties and their owners.
It would be recalled that AMCON recently took over Aero Contractors following the inability of its original owners to offset its indebtedness to the corporation.
However, information gathered from authoritative sources in AMCON shows that the corporation is still open to negotiation with debtors who are willing to honour their obligations. It was gathered that AMCOM is open to various financial structures that guarantee its value-enhanced exit within a reasonable period of time.
Efforts by THISDAY to get AMCON’s officials to on the ongoing enforcement efforts were unsuccessful, as several telephone calls to their line of the spokesperson did not connect as the line indicated it was switched off.