12 February 2013

Nigeria: Babalakin Owes AMCON N60 Billion - Agbakoba

Lagos — The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) says companies linked to business mogul, Mr.Wale Babalakin (SAN) currently owed the Corporation over N60billion in debt.

AMCON's lawyer, Chief Olisa Agbakoba, who disclosed this at a press conference in Lagos, said Babalakin's insolvency arose due to the loans granted his companies by First Bank and Guaranteed Trust Bank (GTBank), which currently remain unpaid.

Agbakoba presented documents at the press conference to buttress his claims. But he advised Babalakin to drop the litigation option and return to AMCON for negotiation.

"The most convenient way out of the dispute was for Babalakin to approach AMCON and seek the structuring of his debt".

He also punctured Babalakin's decision to repossess the property on 43A, AfribankStreet, Victoria Island, which was shut last Friday by court bailiffs upon an ex-parte order made on February 5 by Justice Chukwujeckwu Aneke of the Federal High Court, Lagos.

He said "He (Babalakin) got loans from First Bank and GTBank. He has not been able to service the loans. He is fighting a battle that he cannot win. He should come to AMCON for settlement.

"I challenge him today, if he comes to AMCON, we will be ready to welcome him. If he comes today, he will be shocked because of the terms he will get. AMCON is not out to kill businesses. Its aim is to help businesses resolve the problem created by debt" he said.

He wondered why Babalakin abandoned his earlier moves to ensure debt restructuring and opted for litigation.

According to him, at the moment, Babalakin has about 30 cases in various courts in respect of the issue, adding that the latter's resort to litigation was intended to frustrate AMCON's effort to recover what he owes.

He further challenged Babalakin to approach AMCON with evidence of his claim that the Federal Government owes him N132bn by virtue of a March 3, 2009 judgment and other information.

"My advice for my friend, Babalakin is that he should pay his debt or come to AMCON and negotiate with these facts that he said he has. If this judgment is true, let him come to AMCON with it. Let him call me. I will take him to AMCON and the whole thing will be resolved. Others have done so before. So, he will not be the only one to ask for the restructuring of his loan," Agbakoba said.

Agbakoba described Babalakin's repossession of the V.I. property as "an unprecedented act of brigandage." Agbakoba said he was disappointed that such an act involved a senior lawyer of Babalakin's status.

He criticized Babalakin's argument that the order did not specify his property, but merely indicated 43A, V.I. Agbakoba argued that an order of court, no matter how defective it might seem, remains valid until it is set aside.

He said Babalakin ought to have returned to the court and convince it on why the order should be set aside rather than "resorting to self help."

Agbakoba said he has filed a fresh application urging the court to restore his client to possession of the property until the substantive case was determined.

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