By Our Reporter
The Federal High Court in Lagos has restrained the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) from selling the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) Plc.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, while ruling on an interlocutory injunction sought by IBEDC and other 10 defendants in the suit specifically restrained the AMCON from “alienating, selling or disposing or transferring the IBEDC pending the final determination of the suit before it.”
The 11 defendants are the integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Company Limited (in receivership); John Olatunde Ayeni; Dr. Olusola Ayandele; Personal Legal Representatives of the estate of Captain Idahosa Okunbo (deceased) a.k.a. Captain Hosa Wells Okunbo; Akere Ayanwola; Kayode Ojutiku; Folu Olusanya; Mallam Aliyu Ibrahim; Usman Mohammad; Alhaji Abubakar A. Aminu and IBEDC.
They had taken AMCON acting through its nominee, Mr A. B. Ogunba, (SAN) to court, asking the court to determine “whether the plaintiff was entitled to remain in possession of, manage, superintend, and exercise all the powers of a Receiver/Manager on all the 1st defendant’s assets under the Deed of Debenture, Deed of Share charge, the AMCON Act 2010 as amended and the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020, without interference, obstruction and or hindrance in any manner whatsoever from the defendants, their agents, directors, officers or any persons whosoever?”
They also sought the court’s relief on “whether or not the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Defendants and indeed all the other defendants are liable to the plaintiff for the debts charged against 1st defendant’s properties and assets by virtue of their respective personal Guanrantees which they issues in the respect of the loan, the subject matter of this suit as well as under sections 48, 49, 50 and 61 of the Act, read together?”
On the other hand, the plaintiffs sought some reliefs which included but not limited to; “an order of the court affirming the appointment of the plaintiff as Receiver/Manager and protecting the powers of the plaintiff to act and continue to act as the manager through its nominee, Mr. Osayaba Giwa-Osagie, SAN over all the assets of the 1st defendant charged by virtue of the Deed of Debenture dated 16th August 2013 and Deed of Debenture registered on the 23rd August 2013 as well as the corporate and personal Guarantees given by the 1st to 4th Defendants and is entitled to exercise all the powers of Receiver/Manager over all the assets of the 1st to 11th Defendants wherever they may be located within the territory of Nigeria including the 1st Defendant’s shares and assets in the 11th Defendant I.e. IBEDC Plc by virtue of the provisions of Sections 48 and 61 of the AMCON act 2010 as amended by the AMCON amendment No 2 l, Act 2019, the provisions of the aforesaid Deed of Debenture and Deed of share Charge as well as the Deed of the Appointment Dated 6th August 2021 and registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission Abuja without interference, obstruction and or hindrance in any manner whatsoever from the Defendants, their Agents, servants, privies or anyone whomsoever.”
The counsel to the applicants, Dele Adesina (SAN), had in November 2022 lamented AMCON’s alleged underhand ploy to dispose of IBEDC despite what he described as the issue for determination or subject matter of settlement initiated by both parties.
“My Lord it will be so disastrous if people resort to self-help by hiring the police, Army, thugs etc when the court is no longer the last hope of helpless citizens. I wonder how this attitude can attract foreign investors when the local ones are being treated like this. A property which formed the basis of adjourning the matter for settlement can now be advertised in a newspaper for sale,” he had said.
In his ruling delivered on January 25, 2023, Justice Aneke, granted the injunction sought by the applicants pending final determination of the substantive suit.
The court also granted the following orders sought by the applicants – the 1st-3rd and 5th-11th defendants.
“An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the plaintiff/Respondent whether by themselves and or through their Directors, Managers, Officers, Employees, Servants, Consultants, Attorneys, Agents, Representatives, Privies, however so-called, as well as any person or persons acting under or through their instructions and control from alienating, selling, disposing, or by any means transferring the 11th Defendant or any part of the interests of any of the Defendants/Applicants in the said 11tj Defendant , pending the hearing and final determination of this suit.
“An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Plaintiff/Respondent whether directly or indirectly through their Directors, Managers, Officers, Employees, Servants, Consultants, Attorneys, Agents, Representatives, Privies, however so-called as well as any person acting under their instructions and control, from taking any steps whatsoever and howsoever which are or may be antithetical, inimical and or adverse to the rights and interests of the Defendants/Applicants in the 11th Defendant pending the hearing and final determination of this suit.”
Recall that AMCON took over the management of the IBEDC following the judgement by a Federal High Court on September 8, 2021, which granted orders in its favour as Receiver/Manager of Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing (IEDM) Limited, IBEDC’s core investor, over default in Loan Service Agreement.