A Federal High Court in Abuja has faulted the procedure adopted by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in obtaining an order empowering it to seize some houses belonging to Senator Buhari Abdulfatai over his N600 million indebtedness to a commercial bank.
In a ruling on Thursday, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that AMCON misled and concealed important facts from the court in obtaining the ex parte order issued on March 25, 2021. It was on the basis the order the agency took possession of the senator’s property, including: 12 St. Petersburg Street, Wuse 2 and Plot 516 off Misau Crescent, off Birnin Kebbi Crescent, Garki 2 (both in Abuja).
The judge had issued the March 25 interim order which granted the receiver manager appointed by AMCON temporary possession o the property allegedly pledged by the senator when his company – Abadat Ventures Limited – allegedly got the loan from the bank.
In his ruling yesterday, Justice Ekwo held that AMCON concealed that fact that the senator and his company had filed a suit as far back as 2014 to challenge the legitimacy of the alleged debt.
The judge upheld the arguments by lawyer to the senator and his company, Ahmed Raji (SAN), that the suit filed by AMCON last March while the 2013 suit was still pending, amounted to an abuse of court process.
Justice Ekwo rejected arguments by AMCON lawyer, who had relied on the provisions of sections 33(a) and 39(c) of AMCON Act (2019), and held that both sections were inapplicable because they were enacted during the pendency of the earlier suit filed by the senator and his company.
He added that AMCON Act 2019 cannot apply to a suit filed in 2013 before the amended AMCON Act became effective.
“I have noted that when the claimants filed this action by their ex parte motion for interlocutory possession, dated March 11, 2021, which this court granted on March 25, 2021, no averment in the affidavit in support thereof made any mention of an existing action in court.
“I believe that if that was done, the court would have made orders requisite in the circumstances of this case.
“It can, therefore, be said that the order of this court on the motion ex parte of the claimants was not made upon full disclosure of material facts by the claimants.
“Where the court discovers that it has been made to make an order upon non-disclosure of relevant and material facts, such an order is liable ex debito justitiae (as of right) to be set aside.
“I find that the claimants filed this action during the pendency of a suit – Abadat Ventures Limited & Anor v. Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria & Anor – which subject matter is the same as that of this case and the parties are the same, amount to multiplicity of suit on the same subject matter and between the same parties.
“In such a situation, the latter action is considered as abuse of process of court and I so hold.”
“I make an order setting aside the order made on the ex parte motion by the claimants in this case on March 25, 2021.
“I also make an order dismissing this case for being an abuse of process of court.
“The claimants should know what to do if they have any right to protect or claim in the suit Abadat Ventures Limited & Anor v. Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria & Anor. The law in clear on such situation,” Justice Ekwo held