Court approves AMCON’s sale of Abuja properties linked to BDC operator

The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, has ordered the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to sell properties linked to Farida Bureau de Change Limited for its failure to pay back N194.018 million loan to the defunct Platinum Habib Bank Plc.

Tsoho held in his judgement that loan defaulters have forced many banks to fail over the years.

AMCON’s counsels, Ehi Barnabas and Ekwere Nsikanabasi Esq, had approached the Abuja court in suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/ 889/16 seeking the sale of properties belonging to the BDC operator due to an inability to repay loans granted it.

They submitted that the defendant and two others were indebted to the claimant in the sum of N194,017,765.89 being their outstanding indebtedness to the claimant as of 4th October 2016, arising from overdraft facilities Platinum Habib Bank Plc offered to them dated April 29, 2008 and July 29, 2008 respectively.

The claimant further argued that the 1st and 2nd defendants are restrained from selling off any interest in the plots they used as collateral.

AMCON therefore sought an order of sale of the defendants’ properties pledged as security for the overdraft facilities covering the under listed properties:

“i. An undeveloped plot of land lying and situated at Plot No. LD 1014 Cadastral Zone A-09 Guzape District Abuja.

A fully developed property consisting of 4 Nos of semi detached 3 bedroom flat lying and situate at Plot No. 135, Kugbo Extension Layout, Abuja.
iii. An undeveloped plot of land lying and situate at No. 133 Kugbo New Extension Layout, Abuja.”

But the defense team, led by John Adam Okloho Esq, denied owing the bank in dispute or AMCON.

He explained that no money had been credited to his clients as consideration resulting from the loan agreement.

“There was no loan agreement between the 1st, 2nd defendants and the bank as being alleged by the claimant.

“The claimant has failed to produce before the court title documents allegedly pledged as collateral for the loan because the documents have at all times been in the possession of the defendants,” he submitted.

In his judgement dated March 28, 2024, Justice Tsoho said there is no room for the defendant to be evasive in his answers to the facts presented by AMCON.

He said that once claims and facts have been specifically put forward by the plaintiff, the other party who fails to either admit them or deny them with specificity is taken to have admitted the claims of AMCON.

“A community reading of Exhibit B (especially Pages 1 to 5, Board Resolutions of 1st Defendant dated 27/04/2008 and 30/07/2008, AMCON & BANK PHB PLC Loan Purchase & Limited Service Agreement of 10/12/2010) provides good nexus with Exhibit E.

“Besides, the Claimant by demand letters dated 1/11/2012 and 15/01/2014 to the 1st Defendants as to outstanding indebtedness, attached the letter of Offer of Overdraft Facility by Bank PHB to 1st Defendant.

“Curiously, there is no hint of the 1st Defendant having denied or contested the Demand Notices as to its/her outstanding indebtedness.

“It is noteworthy that the Request for Loan Facility (Exhibit B) is signed by Aliyu Habu Fari (2nd Defendant) as Chairman,” Tsoho added saying evidence showed that the defendants defaulted in their loan agreement with the bank.

The judge subsequently granted AMCON’s prayers.

Tsoho said; “This leaves no doubt that Alhaji Aliyu Habu Fari (2nd Defendant) is the alter ego of the 1st Defendant and did in fact, apply for the loan facility on behalf of the company.

“To that extent, the frenzied arguments canvassed by the 1st and 2nd Defendants to absolve themselves of liability in this case, amounts to desperately capitalizing on legal technicality, but which cannot stand.

“By their own admission, the 1st and 2nd Defendants opted for the loan agreement and which preliminary requirements they obliged.

“Much like somebody buying a brand new car, the bank binds its customers to a terms-of-service agreement when they take a loan; their collateral guarantees that the bank will be indemnified should they fail in keeping the terms (It includes stipulations such as the inability to repay capital and the agreed interest).

“In the past, if the bank learned that those terms had been violated, they had to sue, or threatened to sue after considering possible restructuring of the facility.

“This practice had hitherto caused many banks to fail. Nowadays, the claimant, AMCON, has the sole mandate to take over those bad debts and to initiate proceedings leading to recovery.

“As it stands, this court frowns at the antics of the 1st and 2nd Defendants which have the unmistakable stench of evasiveness that was characteristic of the era before the establishment of AMCON.

“Accordingly, Reliefs 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the Claimant’s Claim dated 04/11/2016 but filed on 07/11/2016 are granted as prayed.”

AMCON is the federal government’s debt recovery agency.

AMCON is mandated to institute cases in courts for recovery of debts as handed over to it by any institution.

The Federal High Court has jurisdiction in matters relating finance.

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