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24 Oct 2018

Nigerian govt owes me, Says Babalakin

Billionaire businessman and owner of Bi-Courtney Limited, Wale Babalakin, has warned the Asset management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to desist from publishing his name and that of his companies in its list of debtors.

On Monday, AMCON published a list of 105 “delinquent debtors” owing the government a total of N906.109 billion. Among the list of published debtors are three companies – Bi-Courtney Limited, Resort International Limited, and Roygate properties Limited – owned or affiliated to Mr. Babalakin.

According to AMCON, the three companies owe the government N49 billion in total.

However, Mr Babalakin, in a statement on Tuesday, through his law firm, Babalakin &Co, denied that the companies owe the government any debt and argued that it was the government that was owing Bi-Courtney and other associated companies N83 b.

In the statement, addressed to Punch Newspapers but also sent to PREMIUM TIMES, the law firm explained that in April 2012, the Federal High Court, Abuja, in a suit between Bi-Courtney Limited and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), ordered that what ever debt Bi-Courtney and other affiliated companies owed any agency of the federal government should be deducted from the sum of N132 billion which the federal government owed Bi-Courtney.

“The effect of this judgement is that as at that day, Bi-Courtney and companies associated with it has a judgement credit of N132 b – N20 b -N20b- N9 b = N83 b. Bi-Courtney has a net credit judgement of N83 b.”

The law firm further explained that AMCON then filed a suit against Resort International Limited claiming the sum of N20 billion but the court ruled that AMCON mistook an equity transaction as debt. The statement further claimed that the court ruled that AMCON, instead, was owing Resort International N55 billion plus a 17.6 per cent interest per anum from December 2015, which brings the current value of the debt to N100 billion.

“Notwithstanding this clear position of the law which is that Bi-Courtney and companies associated with it do not owe AMCON any money whatsoever, AMCON continues to publish or threaten to publish the name of Bi-Courtney and other companies related to it in the newspapers and electronic media,” the statement signed by Olawale Akoni, a senior advocate, claimed.

The law firm, which attached a copy of the high court judgement to the statement, threatened to institute legal actions against AMCON or any organisation that published the name of Bi-Courtney and other associated companies as “debtors or alleged debtors”.

AMCON could not be reached for comments. The government-owned firm has, however, repeatedly complained that many businesses and their owners whose debts it acquired from banks were refusing to pay the debts. AMCON has since sought the support of the judiciary to retrieve the funds and said it would name and shame the owners of such firms.

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