AMCON N5tr Debt Requires ADR Approach, Says Jurists

Nume Ekeghe
As the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) continues to seek better ways to recover its huge outstanding debt of over N5trillion, 80 per cent of which is owed by just 350 individuals in the country, leading jurists have urged the corporation to explore the opportunities offered by Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) centres established by the Federal High Court.

Speaking in Abuja, respected jurists such as Justice I.N.Buba; Justice A.M. Liman; Justice C.M.A. Olatoregun; Justice B.F.M. Nyako; Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, Dr. Chuka Agbu and Mr. Olugbenga Bello, among others urged AMCON to refer some of its cases to ADR, saying that could provide faster ways towards recovery rather than wait endlessly for the courts especially now that the corporation has over 3,000 court cases and counting with imminent sunset date fast approaching. They made the call at the Abuja version of the 2019 Annual Seminar for External Solicitors and Asset Management Partners (AMPs) of AMCON, which took place in Abuja.

Justice Buba, who chaired one of the sessions said, “Every judge is supposed to promote ADR because it is faster. ADR was set up to help the courts. If you say you don’t want ADR, then you have to be ready to waste your time in court. It is not that the courts deliberately delay your cases, but the courts are overwhelmed by the barrage of cases before them.”
Justice Nyako, who also chaired a session, while commenting on why cases were piling up in court urged AMCON lawyer to familiarise themselves with the legal procedures before appearing in court.

According to her, if a lawyer handling AMCON case does not follow procedure, the case will not take off. But to help ease off the pressure, she added that the Federal High Court was trying to establish three more ADR centres in the country for ease of dispensing justice.
Again, a statement quoted her to have she: “Once the ADR centres are open, I want to encourage our lawyers to refer some of these AMCON cases to the ADR centres and help decongest the courts.”

AMCON Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ahmed Lawan Kuru, who was represented at the annual seminar by Mr. Aminu Ismail, an Executive Director of Operations at the corporation, had earlier in his welcome speech lamented the huge outstanding debt of the corporation of over N5trillion, which would eventually become a burden to the federal government if at sunset AMCON failed to recover.

Urging AMCON lawyers to sit up especially in the face of hard fighting obligors, he added, “We have noticed increased incidences of obligors taking advantage of the appeal process to deny us the benefit of favourable judgments obtained.

“Going forward, we should be conscious of the availability of the opportunity to request the courts to order litigants to deposit judgment consideration with the court registrars. This will mitigate the practice of obligors deliberately dragging their matters in court.”

He urged AMCON council and Asset Management Partners (AMPs) to take advantage of the special provision on accelerated hearing of AMCON matters since the Practice Rules allow the courts to sit from day-to-day, even on the weekends, at their discretion, adding, “The starting point for all our external lawyers and AMPs, is the AMCON Act. If you are not familiar with the provisions of the AMCON Act, you will not be able to understand why AMCON is a unique institution.

“The essence of enacting a special legislation for the establishment of AMCON and the regulation of its operations is to remove it from the established common law principles and procedure of debt recovery. Therefore, it is essential for our lawyers and AMPs to be abreast with the AMCON Act and Practice Rules.”

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