The Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) has offered billionaire lawyer and businessman Wale Babalakin a better deal if he agrees to negotiate the alleged N60bn deal.
Lawyer to AMCON, Olisa Agbakoba disclosed this at a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, said that at various times, Babalakin sold his 43A, Afribank Street, Victoria Island, Lagos property to between six and seven persons who had used it to access funds from banks.
AMCON who described this practice as “financial bearing”, said it was not willing to allow Babalakin time to continue to delay the payment of his loans totalling N60billion.
Agbakoba also accused Babalakin of using the “manifest inefficiency of the court system” to avoid paying back the loan, stressing that his client would not accept it.
He also faulted Babalakin’s decision to repossess the property on 43A, Afribank Street, Victoria Island, which was sealed off by court bailiffs following an ex parte order by Justice Chukwujeckwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos on February 5.
“He obtained loans from First Bank and GTBank and he has been unable to service the loans. He is fighting a battle he cannot win. He should come to AMCON for settlement. I challenge him today, if he comes to AMCON, we will sit down and have a robust discussion with him. In fact, it is the best way forward. He will be very surprised that he will get terms that will shock him. AMCON is interested in seeing companies performing, not failing,” Agbakoba said.
He also presented a debt restructuring proposal dated June 1, 2011 written by West Africa Research Limited (WARL) on behalf of Babalakin’s company, Bi-Courtney Limited, and another letter preceding that on May 19, 2011 by Bi-Courtney introducing WARL as its agent. He wondered why Babalakin had put aside his earlier moves to ensure debt restructuring and opted for litigation, adding that at the moment, Babalakin had about 30 cases in various courts in respect of the issue. He alleged that Babalakin’s resort to litigation was aimed at frustrating the effort of AMCON to recover the money.
Agbakoba also challenged Babalakin to approach AMCON with evidence of his claim that he is being owed N132billion by the Federal Government by virtue of a March 3, 2009 judgement and other information.
He accused Babalakin of being insolvent, saying that if it was the UK, he would have turned himself in for bankruptcy proceedings and admitted to the court that he was bankrupt.
In its reaction, Bi-Courtney Limited on Tuesday accused AMCON of deliberately misleading the public about the facts concerning its chairman, Babalakin and AMCON.
A statement signed by Babalakin’s media aide, Dipo Kehinde, said that the corporation was engaging in cheap blackmail and character assassination rather than addressing the issues raised by Babalakin in his press conference on Monday. The firm said the erroneous and provocative claims made by AMCON and its lawyer, Agbakoba at its Tuesday press conference compelled them to make clarifications.
BCL said it was not ready to join issues with AMCON and, or, any of its legal representatives as to the circumstances of or the actual volume of Babalakin’s indebtedness to the corporation. Rather, their only demand is that the corporation comply with the order of Justice G.K. Olotu of the Federal High Court, Abuja on April 5, 2012 in the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/50/09.
Bi-Courtney said paragraphs three and four clearly stated: “An order directing the defendant/respondent (Attorney-General of the Federation), being the chief law officer and legal representative of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and all its agents/agencies, including the government bodies and institutions responsible for the sum due to the applicant, to mandatorily compel the said government institutions to immediately comply with the judgement of this honourable court by making without any further delay the payment of N132,540,580,304 to the plaintiff/applicant (Bi-Courtney) in fulfilment of the aforesaid order of this honourable court.
“An order directing the defendant/respondent, being the chief law officer and legal representative of the Federal Government of Nigeria to set off from the above-mentioned of N132,540,580,304, any claims agreed with the plaintiff/applicant to be due from the plaintiff/applicant to any agency f the Federal Government of Nigeria, including but not limited to AMCON.”
The statement also pointed that the order was subsisting because it was yet to be overturned by either a court of coordinate jurisdiction or a superior court till date.