A tourism and hospitality property, Hydro Hotels Ltd in Nigeria has been taken over by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) over an obligor whose total indebtedness is over N600 million. The takeover of the assets of Hydro Hotels Limited and its chief promoter was confirmed at the weekend by Mr Jude Nwauzor, who is Head of Corporate Communications Department at the government recovery agency.
Affirming the decision of the Federal High Court in Minna in the latest twist, the Court of Appeal through Hon. Justice Habeeb AO Abiru, Hon. Justice Abubakar Datti Yahaya and Hon Justice Amina Audi Wambai in Suit No: CA/A/70/2018 involving AMCON vs Hydro Hotels Limited & 1 odr, the court granted AMCON judgment against Hydro Hotels Limited and its chief Promoter, Alhaji Isah Mohammed Ladan over the huge sum that have been a subject of litigation.
In favour of AMCON, the appellant court also ordered the forfeiture of moveable and immoveable assets of Hydro Hotels Limited and Alhaji Ladan and further granted AMCON full possession and outright power of sale of the properties. AMCON has been on rampage since President Muhammadu Buhari singed the amended AMCON Act into law. The amendment provides the government agency additional powers to go after its obligors, majority of who have remained recalcitrant for years.
Armed with the order, AMCON through its appointed Debt Recovery Agent – Ajunwa & Co. took effective possession of four top properties of the obligor, which include properties situate at Plot 165/166 MTP. 95A, measuring 0.300 hectares at Farm Center, Tunga Ward, Near New Secretariat, Minna, Niger State; Plot 173 & 174 MTP. 95A consisting of 0.414 hectares; Property at No. 1 Wawa Road, New Bussa, Niger State and Property at No. 82 Garkuwas Residence, New Bussa, Niger State.
The case of Hydro Hotels Limited and its promoter has been a prolonged issue as the loan was purchased by AMCON during the 1st phase of Eligible Bank Assets (EBA) purchases from Finbank (now FCMB) far back in 2010. Following the purchase, AMCON has been in a long drawn legal battle with the company since 2015, first winning the case against the obligor at the Federal High Court, Minna in 2017 and now at the Court of Appeal in August 2020.
As a matter of fact, due to the lack of adequate collateral, AMCON’s expanded investigation on Alhaji Isah Mohammed Ladan revealed other hidden properties belonging to the obligor located in Niger State, which were hitherto not known to AMCON. This action to expand investigation and trace additional assets is in line with Section 49 (1) & (2) of the AMCON Act 2019 (as Amended), which states as follows:
“…49 (1) Where the Corporation has reasonable cause to believe that a debtor or debtor company is the bona fide owner of any movable or immovable property, it may apply to the Court, before or at the time of filing of action for debt recovery or other like action or at any time after the filing of action, and before or after the service of the originating process by which such action is commenced on the debtor or debtor company, by motion ex-parte for an interlocutory order granting possession of the property to the Corporation pending the hearing and determination of the debt recovery or other action to abide the decision in such action.
(2) The Corporation shall serve a certified true copy of the order of the court issued under subsection (1) on the debtor or Debtor Company.
(3) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any enactment, an order made under subsection (1) shall subsist till judgment or a final determination of the action, unless expressly discharged by the Court.”
AMCON commenced full recovery drive against Hydro Hotels Limited and its chief promoter after many failed attempts at reasoning with and negotiating with the obligor. In the process, AMCON exhausted all avenues of peaceful resolution of the matter.