AMCON: Court vacates order against Babalakin's Bi-Courtney
Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, vacated the orders made by his brother judge, Justice Okon Abang, appointing Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, through its counsel, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, receiver/manager over the assets of Bi-Courtney Limited, operators of Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Terminal 2, Ikeja, Lagos.
The order sparked off a bitter exchange between Dr. Olisa Agbakoba and Dr. Olawale Babalakin outside the court.
The other orders vacated by the court include those also appointing Dr. Agbakoba as receiver/manager over assets of Chartered Investment Limited, Resort International Limited, Roygate Properties Limited;
The order restraining some commercial banks in the country from allowing these companies to operate bank accounts held with the banks in whatever form or description pending determination of the substantive action;
The order that the banks shall file and serve on Agbakoba and Associates, within seven days, an affidavit disclosing the balance on all accounts held with the commercial banks jointly and severally as at date.
Meanwhile, Dr Agbakoba, former Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, President and Chairman of Bi-Courtney Group, Mr Babalakin, yesterday, exchanged hot words at the premises of the Federal High Court in Lagos, at the continued hearing of the debt recovery suit between and Babalakin.
Agbakoba and Babalakin, almost exchanged blows but for the prompt intervention of other lawyers, including Chief Wale Akoni, SAN and Mr Abiodun Layonu, SAN.
Troubled started after Justice Buba upturned the orders of September 22, made by Justice Abang empowering AMCON to take over assets of Babalakin's companies, including MM 2.
In the order, Agbakoba was also appointed as the receiver/manager over all the companies of Babalakin including Bi-Courtney Limited, Chartered Investment Limited, Resort International Limited and Roygate Properties Limited.
But the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta had re-assigned the case to Justice Buba, who was handling previous case between the parties.
When the case came up, lawyers to Babalakin and his companies had urged the court to suspend the interim orders made by Justice Abang empowering Agbakoba to act as the receiver/manager for the companies.
Akoni argued that the integrity of the court had been badly affected with the conflicting order, adding that there was need for the court to act fast to stop the development.
Layonu, on his part, said the Federal High Court, as an institution, had been scandalised with the orders of Abang, because Justice Buba had made specific order restraining AMCON from appointing a receiver/manager and or taking over the companies.
'For AMCON to now secretly obtain another order at variance with a subsisting order from a different court is an attempt to scandalise this court and cause confusion. Already, banks and the police are already implementing Abang's orders, and that is the more reason why this court should act fast,' Layonu argued.
Responding, Agbakoba said as far as he was concerned, there was no confusion with Abang's orders. He said the suit before Abang was filed pursuant to the new cause of action that arose out of the admission by Babalakin that he was indebted to AMCON to the tune of N50 billion.
He recalled that before now, the bundle of cases were basically on determining the actual debt owed by Babalakin and debt swap arising from the argument by the defendants that Federal Government was indebted to Babalakin to the tune of over N132 billion pursuant to a judgment.
He added that after series of meetings, Babalakin agreed that he was indebted to AMCON, and that all cases would be withdrawn. The lawyer lamented that trouble however started when Babalakin failed to abide by the term of the agreements, especially as regard transfe-rring the Federal Secretariat in Ikoyi to AMCON as agreed.
Agbakoba explained that Babalakin and his lawyers failed to understand when cause of action arose in a case and ends. In his ruling, Justice Buba held that the action of AMCON was clearly an abuse and a nullity, as the suit before Abang was filed and orders obtained in the face of previous cases and specific orders.
The judge decried the action of AMCON, noting that it felt that a court can only bark but not bite. The judge added that it was clear from the processes before the court that Justice Abang was misled by AMCON to grant the interim orders having failed to notify the court of the existing orders.
The judge then vacated the order of Justice Abang, and held that it was clearly an abuse of court process. The matter was subsequently adjourned to December 9 for mention.
Babalakin, who was seated in his black Toyota Jeep within the court premises throughout the proceeding, had come out at the same time when Agbakoba was coming out of the court.
Agbakoba then looked at Babalakin and said: 'Wale, give me my money. I will collect my money from you, and that's final.' Responding, Babalakin replied by threatening to come after Agbakoba.
Pointing at Agbakoba, Babalakin said: 'Why do you want to ruin me? You want to kill my businesses, I will never allow you.' Agbakoba also angrily replied him, saying 'you this small lawyer, when did you start practicing self? I'm 40 years at the bar, and so you are too small to me.'
As the two lawyers were exchanging words, Akoni and Layonu intervened and brought the situation under control.