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Billionaire businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim loses bid to recover seized assets

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…The AMCON announced last year that it had taken over 12 properties belonging to Mr Jimoh Ibrahim and his firms.

The Lagos Division of the Federal High Court has declined an application to vacate an interim order used by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to seize properties belonging to billionaire businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim, for an alleged N69.4 billion debt.

Rilwan Aikawa, the judge, held that the order, which he granted in November last year, subsists.

Mr Ibrahim, a lawyer, and his companies, NICON Investment Ltd and Global Fleet Oil and Gas Ltd, had urged the court to set aside the order for “non-disclosure and misrepresentation of material facts”.

They further urged the court “to order AMCON to pay N50 billion indemnity for its alleged failure to conduct due diligence before obtaining the said order and for misrepresentation and concealment of fact”.

But Mr Aikawa upheld the argument of AMCON’s lawyer, Kemi Pinheiro, that the asset recovery agency made “full and substantial disclosure of all material facts” at the time of obtaining the orders on November 4, 2020.

He further argued that AMCON’s exhibits established that the properties attached belong to Mr Ibrahim and “therefore he cannot claim innocence of them.”

Mr Pinheiro also said that AMCON made “full and substantial disclosure of all material facts in relation to the subject matter of this suit,” at the time of obtaining the orders on November 4, 2020.

In a ruling that lasted nearly two hours, the judge upheld Mr Pinheiro’s argument.

“I have carefully studied the respective applications and arguments for or against of parties,” he began.

“I agree totally with the counsel for the claimant Kemi Pinheiro SAN that this suit is sui generis as Section 49(1)(2) of the AMCON Act says that the order made on the 4th of November, 2020 can be made ex-parte on mere suspicion that the res is about to be dissipated.”

He also agreed with the claimant that the order could not be discharged on the ground that it was made in contravention of the order of FHC judge, Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, made on October 2, 2019, which has no bearing with this case.

“In my opinion, we have a unique situation here,” Mr Aikawa continued.

“The application that led to the ex-parte order made on the 4th of November 2020 was brought pursuant to the provisions of AMCON Act which defines this as a Federal High Court.

“I do not think that based on the above reasons, that this application has made a case out for the order of this court to be vacated.

“The appropriate order to be made in these circumstances is to dismiss the same and, accordingly, this application is hereby dismissed.”

The judge then adjourned further proceedings till March 9.

The judge had granted the interim order on November 4.

On November 18, AMCON announced that it had taken over 12 properties belonging to the businessman and his firms.

The properties include the NICON Investment Ltd building Plot 242, Muhammadu Buhari Way, Central Business District, Abuja; NICON Hotels Ltd building at Plot 557, Port-Harcourt Crescent, off Gimbiya Street, Abuja and the building hosting NICON Lekki Ltd at No. 5, Customs Street, Lagos.

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Ebonyi Head of Service Position: Umahi Throws Application Open

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Against the usual practice of picking from the top echelon of the Civil Service,  Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi on Tuesday threw the position of Head of Service (HoS) of the state open, asking civil servants on Grade Level 14 and above to apply within two weeks.

Umahi, in a statement by the Commissioner of Information and State Orientation, Mr Uchenna Orji, said civil servants across the 13 LGAs of the state are qualified to apply within two weeks.

“The Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi requests applications from Civil Servants from Grade Level 14 and above to fill the vacancy of the Head Of Service (HOS), who shall be bowing out of Civil Service on 30th June 2021 after a meritorious and selfless service to the government and people of Ebonyi State,” the statement read in part.

The Governor further directed the civil servants to forward their applications to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG): “All applications are to be addressed to the Secretary to the State Government and Coordinating Commissioner, and submitted with all relevant credentials no later than 30th June, 2021.

Umahi added that “In replacing the outgoing Head of Service, the Government will be looking for the best for the State to continue the good work that the outgoing Head of Service began.

He applauded the loyalty, committed efforts and selfless service rendered by the out-going Head Of Service, Dr. Chamberlain Nwele, in the state and wished him well in his future endeavours.

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Federal High Court Issues New Practice Direction For Filing Of Processes As Workers Resume

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The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court (FHC), Justice John Tsoho, has issued a new practice direction on exemption of payment of default fees for filing of processes.

The development, according to a statement by Catherine Oby-Nwandu, Chief Information Officer of FHC, on Friday night, followed the resumption of work after the two-month strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) was called off on on Wednesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that JUSUN had, on April 6, shut down all courts nationwide to demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary at the state level.

Although the industrial action was called off on Wednesday, June 9, the workers union directed all its members to resume work on Monday, June 14.

Justice Tsoho, in the statement, therefore ordered that notwithstanding the provisions of Order 48 Rule 4 of the court rules, 2019, on computation of time for filling of court proceedings as provided by the Rules and payment of default fees for extension of time, the period covering the JUSUN strike action would be exempted.

The statement reads: “Following the resumption of work after the strike action by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) from 6th day of April, 2021 to 14th day of June 2021 which affected court proceedings and filling of processes, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Honorable Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, announces to Hon. Judges, stakeholders and the general public, the essential need for a new Practice Direction on EXEMPTION OF PAYMENT OF DEFAULT FEES FOR FILING OF PROCESSES computation of time for the payment of default fees for extension of time for filing processes in the Federal High Court of Nigeria for the above period.

“Pursuant to the powers conferred on him, he thereby issues the following Practice Directions:
“COMPUTATION of Time for filing of court processes and payment of default fees for extension of time;
“Notwithstanding the provisions of Order 48 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019 on computation of time for filling of court proceedings or doing an act as provided by the Rules and payment of default fees for extension of time thereof, the period covering the JUSUN strike action, being from 6th day of April, 2021 to 14th day of June, 2021, is hereby exempted.

“APPLICABILITY; These practice Directions shall, save to the extent or as may be otherwise directed by the Chief Judge, apply to both criminal and civil causes and matters in the Federal High Court of Nigeria.

“CITATION; These Practice Directions shall be cited as the Federal High Court (Exemption of Payment of Default Fees for Filing of Processes) Practice Directions (No. 2) 2021.

“The Practice Directions take effect from Tuesday, June 15, 2021.”(NAN)

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BUHARI REMOVES ARMSTRONG IDACHABA, REPLACES HIM WITH SHEHU ILELAH AS NBC DG.

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Mr Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, as the new director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the appointment in a statement made available to NAN in Abuja on Friday.

The statement said Ilelah’s appointment is for a tenure of five years in the first instance.

Ilelah

It added that Ilelah is a veteran broadcaster.

Ilelah takes over from the acting director-general of the agency, Armstrong Idachaba, who had been acting since the removal of Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, the esthwhile director-general who was removed over alleged corruption last year.

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