The Federal High Court in Lagos has frozen all the assets of businessman Jimoh Ibrahim, as well as his NICON Investment Limited and Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited. Justice Saliu Saidu issued the interim injunction in response to an application by Mr. Yusuf Ali, counsel to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on June 14th, and it will stay in place until all the issues concerning their indebtedness to AMCON are determined.
Justice Saliu Saidu issued the interim injunction in response to an application by Mr. Yusuf Ali, counsel to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on June 14th, and it will stay in place until all the issues concerning their indebtedness to AMCON are determined.
The order restrains NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited and Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim from dealing with any assets or funds of the company. It covers the assets of NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited and Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim in Abuja, Lagos, Dubai and London.
The freezing order also affects all bank accounts held and/or maintained by NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited and Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim in First Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, United Bank of Africa Plc, Access Bank Plc, City Bank Nigeria Limited and Sterling Bank Plc.
Others are Ecobank Nigeria Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Limited, Keystone Bank Limited, Skye Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc and Unity Bank Plc.
The court also ordered the freezing of all bank accounts to which Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim is a signatory either alone or with any other person in NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited in any of the banks and financial institution on the list. AMCON was also granted the possessory order to take over Jimoh Ibrahim’s Nigeria Re-Insurance Company Plc, NICON Insurance Company Plc, Nigeria Stockbrokers Limited (NSL) and NICON Trustees Limited.
The trio of NICON Investment Limited, Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited and Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim owe AMCON over N50billion that has become the subject of protracted negotiations and court battles as a result of their inability to repay the staggering debt. With AMCON’s debt recovery efforts in full swing, the Corporation took over the assets of Mr. Ibrahim in Abuja and Lagos.
Recall that 400 obligors of AMCON account for more than N4.5 trillion, which is approximately 80 percent of the total outstanding loan balance of the corporation’s over 12,000 accounts with obligors that have become recalcitrant over time despite the efforts of the corporation.
To deal with the situation, AMCON recently increased the tempo of its recovery activities using firmer negotiation strategies and the special enforcement powers it possesses under the AMCON Act, to compel some of its debtors, especially business heavyweights and the politically exposed, to repay their debts.
Ibrahim, one of Nigeria’s wealthiest men, has investments in such areas as aviation, hotels, banking, insurance, real estate, and publishing, along with a reputation for ruthlessness and shortcuts.
AMCON began enforcement of the freeze order earlier Monday.
Meanwhile, the Joint Senate Committee on Aviation and Anti-corruption investigating the disbursement of N500 billion power and aviation fund has revealed that the N35 billion loan collected by the Chairman of the defunct Air Nigeria, Jimoh Ibrahim, was diverted to Ghana.
The Federal Government in 2011 released N120 billion through the Central Bank of Nigeria to the aviation sector as intervention fund to rescue the sector from total collapse.
At the investigative hearing by the Joint Senate Committee on Aviation and Anti-corruption on Monday, the Deputy Leader of House and also Vice Chairman of Aviation Committee, Senator Ibn Bala’ Nallah, disclosed that the fund allocated to Virgin Nigeria was diverted to another project in Ghana by Ibrahim, who is the CEO of Energy Group.
Confirming the diversion of the funds, a former Director of Finance and Accounts of Air Nigeria, John Nnorom, said Ibrahim worked with a Nigerian bank on the project.
Nnorom explained that prior to getting the funds, Ibrahim brought in the Bank as part of the Directors of Air Nigeria.
He, however, said surprisingly, the very day the N35 billion hit the account of Air Nigeria domiciled with the Bank, it was also paid out.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, while responding to questions, revealed that though the fund was released in the name of Aviation, it did not pass through the Ministry and there was no record anywhere to show the money was received by the Ministry.
Amaechi said: “Distinguished Committee Chairmen, members, my job here is to watch proceedings because I know nothing about it and there is no record showing how the funds was disbursed.”
The Committee also queried the Central Bank of Nigeria for its inability to provide the record of N120 billion loan disbursed to rescue airlines in Nigeria as the Committee mandated the apex bank to provide the record within 24 hours.
According to the Committee Chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma: “We want the report of the disbursed fund with 24 hours.
“If you are not able to account for it, we will hold you responsible for the fund.”
The Committee also asked for the criteria used to shortlist airlines that benefited from the aviation intervention.
Earlier, Uzodinma, in his welcome address, made a shocking revelation that most of the airlines that benefited from the N120 billion intervention fund have become moribund.
He said: “That is why it is a very disturbing development to learn of allegations that monies were not properly utilized for the stated objectives.
“These allegations are just absurd, but shocking.
“We are here to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of such allegations of misappropriation or diversion of the said funds.
“As is normally the rule in any investigation, we hold nobody guilty unless it is proven beyond all reasonable doubts that he or she is guilty.
“Curiously however, from the list of beneficiaries of funds, some of the airlines have long folded up.” [myad]