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Thursday, May 26, 2022

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Court cautions Ibrahim, NICON on multiple cases against AMCON over N70 bln debt

A Federal High Court in Lagos has cautioned NICON Insurance and businessman Jimoh Ibrahim against filing related suits before other courts against the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) over dispute on the take over of NICON Insurance and Nigeria Re by the ‘bad bank.’

Justice Tijjani Ringim warning the businessman and his company after NICON Insurance discontinued two identical suits it filed against AMCON and upheld the submission of AMCON’s counsel Kemi Pinheiro that both suits – FHC/L/CS/1116/2021 and FHC/L/CS/1115/2021 were near identical with a third suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/760/2021.

Ringim said: “I have listened to the various legal submissions of counsel and facts before me. I am satisfied that the proper order to make is that of striking out and, same having been withdrawn, is hereby struck out.

“However, the plaintiff is hereby warned not to embark on a voyage of forum shopping because upon perusal of court records – which I am permitted to do under the rule – I can see that this same plaintiff filed the same two set of suits on the 23rd of August which was withdrawn on the 28th of August.

“Subsequently, the same plaintiff filed another suit seeking the same reliefs. The court is not a forum for a game of chance. The court will frown at such if this repeats itself.”

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Recall that AMCON in November 2020 following a court order seized the properties of the Jimoh Ibrahim over an alleged debt of nearly N70 billion, which was sold to AMCON by Union Bank as a non-performing loan in the early days of AMCON.

The affected businesses of the businessman include NICON Investment Limited and Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited amongst others.

The matter between Ibrahim and AMCON has been interminable since the loan was purchased by the government debt recovery agency during the first phase of Eligible Bank Assets (EBA) purchases from Union Bank in the early days of AMCON.

Pinheiro had contended that the plaintiff had been embarking on forum shopping in filing two suits within two weeks and withdrawing the same. These suits in question were FHC/L/CS/1051/21 and FHC/L/CS/1052/21 both filed at the Federal High Court Lagos.

He therefore prayed the court to “stop this attitude” by dismissing the suit and awarding punitive costs to serve as a deterrent to other recalcitrant debtors who may want to deceive the court in the future.

Although counsel to NICON Insurance, Adenrele Adegorioye, opposed him, Justice Ringim, in a bench ruling, struck out the matter.

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