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N537.3m Debt: AMCON, Donald Duke Explore Out Of Court Settlement

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Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court in Lagos has granted permission to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and a former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke to explore the opportunity to settle the dispute over a N537,334,360.77 debt out of court.

The court had on August 8 granted right to AMCON and United Bank for Africa (UBA) to take over a property located in Lagos belonging to the former governor over an alleged debt of N537,334,360.77.

Justice Obiozor granted the order pursuant to an ex parte application, marked, FHC/L/CS/1373/2019, taken before the judge by AMCON and UBA.

At the resumption of proceedings yesterday, a counsel who appeared for the former governor, Edoigiawerie Omoruyi, told Justice Nicolas Oweibo, that his client has approached AMCON with a view to having the matter settled out-of-court.

The counsel specifically told the court that the debt would be paid yesterday,  September 2.

Counsel to AMCON, Austin Erhabor, confirmed to the court that the corporation had indeed been approached for an amicable settlement of the matter with a promise made to pay the debt yesterday, September 2,  2019.

After listening to both parties, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, adjourned to September 11, for a report of settlement.

The defendants in the suit were Stonehedge Investment Limited, Mr Donald Duke and Mrs Owanari Bob-Manuel Duke.

The AMCON and the bank had prayed the court for “an order of interim attachment, possession and custody of the property being No. 3, Temple Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.”

They told the court that the property was mortgaged by Duke “as collateral in securing the 1st respondent’s indebtedness to the applicants.”

They urged the court to grant them possession of the property “pending the institution and disposal of proceedings for recovery of debt against the respondent, pursuant to Section 49 of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Act 2010 (as amended).”

They also prayed the court for an interim Mareva injunction to take possession of funds in the accounts of Duke and others in any bank, “pending the institutional and disposal of proceedings for the recovery of a debt of N537,334,360.77 made up of the principal debt and interest against the respondents pursuant to Section 50 of AMCON Act 2010.”

The judge granted the prayers, in addition to an order restraining the respondents from, “transacting, transferring, changing or howsoever dealing in any manner or interfering with the applicants’ possession of the Ikoyi property.”

The judge ordered AMCON and UBA to ensure service of substantive originating processes on the respondents within 20 days of the making of the order.

Justice Obiozor adjourned the case till September 2 for further hearing.

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