There have been concerted efforts by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to illegally take over Best Western Plus Hotel, located on Allen Avenue Ikeja, Lagos, the Chairman of Suru Group, Mr. Edward Akinlade, owner of the property, has alleged.
Speaking recently, during a press briefing in Lagos, Akinlade said AMCON has no legal right in confiscating his property, noting that even after several court judgements to his favour, AMCON is still bent on frustrating him with allegedly illegal court judgement, which AMCON is seeking at the moment with the aim of taking over and selling his property.
While calling on the federal government as well as the authority concerned to come to his rescue, the Suru Group boss said, “AMCON is committing fraud and judicial recklessness against our company. So, we are calling on the federal government to intervene and call AMCON to order.
“As we speak, AMCON is making arrangement through a receiver to sell the hotel for about N1.7 billion naira (a property worth over N6 billion) in spite of the judgement. Whereas the court has said it was not AMCON property, AMCON wants to sell the property using a fraudulent legal mortgage,” he lamented further.
Recalling how it all started, Akinlade said official of AMCON had in the morning of September 22, 2017 stormed the venue where his property is located with armed policemen to forcefully eject staff and customers from the hotel building in attempt to seal up the facility over allegations of N13.4 billion the hotel allegedly owed Oceanic Bank Plc (now Ecobank).
Expatiating more on the issue, he said, “Our loan was performing under the old Oceanic Bank Plc (now Ecobank) and then the loan was sold to AMCON illegally. So we sued Oceanic bank. AMCON in return sued us in 2014 still on the case, saying that we owed them N15.3billion but the suit was dismissed in 2015 by Justice M.B Idris and the sum of N50 was awarded as cost in favour of our company but AMCON still went to another court last year again and sued, as counter claim, the IG of Police listing our property without mentioning us as a defendant and because no one showed up to defend the case, AMCON came to our property last year with Mobile policemen, teargas, and bullets to kick us out of the hotel. And also, AMCON has been brandishing various amounts which do not concern us.”
Akinlade said however that judgement was again given by another judge, Justice M.S Hassan on March 22, 2018 in his company’s favour. The judge he said stated that the “counter claim is an abuse of judicial process, it seeks to relegate issues that have been determined by the court, it is an attempt to restore Suit No FHC/L/CS/218/2014, which has been dismissed by this court on 22/6/2015.”
He noted however that even after the last judgement, AMCON has still not given up as it has again appealed the judgement. “Judgement was given on the 22nd of March 2018 and AMCON appealed again in the following day, saying the judgement is wrong. But by the judgement we had in March this year, the court said we do not owe AMCON and therefore it cannot seize our property but as at today, AMCON is still sitting in our property at Allen. They have Mobile Police there every day.”
Akinlade who described AMCON’s activities as illegal and fraudulent, lamented that AMCON is trying to frustrate his company to let go its property adding that AMCON is plotting, to sell his property without due process.
The Suru Group boss who apparently is totally frustrated at the moment, stressed that so far it has been catalogue of fraud upon fraud ever since. “Last March, we won the case against AMCON where the court said we do not owe any money and none of our properties should be seized. But AMCON had appealed that judgement soon after the last ruling. Not satisfied, AMCON came again to sue us for a counter claim of N24 billion but the judge demised it completely on March 22, 2018 and ruled that AMCON cannot touch any of our assets.
“The Judge said AMCON cannot buy a performing loan and so we won the case; the Judge said we do not owe AMCON any money and we also won the case, the second time. So what we are saying is that AMCON should go back to Ecobank and collect its money back,” he added.
Counting the lost his company has incurred so far, Akinlade said, “The hotel makes on average about N900 million every year but right now we are making no money. Secondly, we had a Best Western franchise but right now, Best Western has withdrew its name from the hotel because under the agreement we had, once a hotel is closed for three months, they would remove their name. So there is no more Best Western Plus, Ikeja. We have lost that too.”
He lamented further that hotel, which has been closed since September 22, 2017 has items inside worth billions being ruined in the process. Akinlade revealed further that, “When the hotel was functioning, it was valued at N6.2 billion but now AMCON is saying it is valued it at N1.9 billion. So there has been substantial loses, this also includes the loss of our reputation,” he added.
By Mary Ekah