The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has objected to a suit by the convicted former Managing Director of the defunct Oceanic Bank Plc, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, seeking to retrieve the assets she forfeited to the federal government on her conviction in October 2010.
Following a plea bargain arrangement, Ibru was convicted by a Federal High Court in Lagos and was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
Under the arrangement, she forfeited assets worth N191 billion comprising 94 properties across the world including the United States of America, Dubai and Nigeria to AMCON.
Ibru, who sued for herself, the Ibru Group and three others, among others, asked the court to stop the Attorney-General of the Federation and AMCON from further taking any steps towards implementing the terms of the plea bargain and settlement agreement leading to her conviction.
She also sought an order directing the parties to return to status quo prior to November 12, 2013, when AMCON obtained an ex-parte order in respect of the assets.
Other plaintiffs are Sidochem Industries Ltd, Edgar Sido and Dr. Francis Sido.
Ibru alleged that AMOCN “mischievously obtained an ex parte order from the court” on November 12, 2013, without disclosing material facts in the plea bargain agreement.
Shortly after the case was filed in April, trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, on April 29, 2014, granted an interim injunction restraining the two defendants (AGF and AMCON).
The judge also ordered the defendants to appear in court to show cause why the order to maintain status quo should not be made.
Yesterday, the AGF was not represented but AMCON’s lawyer, Ademuyiwa Balogun, urged the court to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.
Balogun also opposed an application by Ibru’s counsel, Mr. Ade Okeanya-Inneh (SAN), seeking a preservative order restraining the defendants pending the hearing of the suit.
“We are opposed to that application for a preservative order, the reason being that we are challenging your Lordship’s jurisdiction. With the greatest respect, your Lordship’s jurisdiction is only limited to decide whether or not the court has jurisdiction to entertain the suit,” Balogun argued.
He said there was no urgency requiring the court to make any preservative order.
“The cause of action arose in November 2013, the plaintiff only approached this court in March 2014, it is a clear admission that there is nothing urgent to protect,” he said.
Justice Mohammed agreed with Balogun and said he would not make any preservative order when his jurisdiction to entertain the suit was being challenged.
He adjourned to June 22 for the hearing of the notice of preliminary objection by AMCON.