The act establishing the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, was signed into law in 2010 by the President of Nigeria. The imperative for its creation was in response to the global financial crisis that affected many financial institutions in Nigeria.
Its primary role is to buy non-performing loans from financial institutions and work out and work out a payment schedule acceptable to the debtors.
There is a big misconception in Nigeria about how the agency works.
The corporation functions like a ‘debt collector’. But before doing that job, banks or regulatory agencies have to approach them first.
A simple explanation of they operate: Bank A approach them for a deal about a bad loan the debtor, B, has not been able to repay.
A deal is worked out where AMCON buys the bad debt from Bank A. Now, B, the debtor, owes AMCON instead of Bank A.
AMCON then approaches B to inform them of the status of their debt. A discussion is held to find an acceptable payment schedule.
If B doesn’t liquidate the debt according to an agreed timeline, AMCON would head to the court for an order to seize the assets of B. Most often than not, courts grant permission to AMCON to take over the assets of the debtor, B.
That, in a nutshell, is how AMCON works.
Over the last 8 years, some dramatic seizures by AMCON have occurred. Below is Nigeria News-curated list of some of those asset seizures or forfeitures.
1. Spring Bank
Spring Bank was among the first of three banks to come under ATCON’s hammer.
In 2009, the bank was the beneficiary of a $4 billion bailout fund extended to banks by the government.
Two years later, the bank was unable to recapitalize sufficiently enough to turn around its fortunes.
The CBN was forced to revoke the bank’s license and handed over the management of the bank to AMCON for recapitalization.
The bank was renamed Enterprise Bank and had ₦118 billion injected into it by AMCON.
In 2015, Heritage Bank’s bid of ₦56 billion to take control of the bank was accepted and ratified by AMCON.
2. Bank PHB
Bank PHB’s take over followed the same pattern as Spring Bank. The management was sacked by the CBN and its affairs handed over to AMCON in 2011.
The bank was subsequently rebranded keystone Bank and had ₦283 billion injected into it by AMCON.
AMCON sold the bank in 2017 for ₦25 billion to a consortium comprising Sigma Golf Limited and Riverbank Investment Resources.
Afribank was the third bank that was unable to turn around its fortunes after being a beneficiary of the 2009 $4 billion bailout fund.
Like Bank PHB and Spring Bank, the Central Bank revoked its operating license in 2011 and handed it over to AMCON.
The now renamed Mainstreet Bank had ₦285 billion pumped into it by AMCON to help it back on its feet.
In 2014, Skye Bank won a bid to completely take over the Mainstreet Bank from AMCON.
4. Daily Times of Nigeria
Founded in 1925, Daily Times of Nigeria was at one point, one of the most recognizable brands in Nigeria. The newspaper was acquired by the Federal government in 1975.
After going into decline due to bad management, it was sold to a private investor in 2004.
However, taking the foremost brand back to the top proved too much for the new owners. The management couldn’t settle the company’s indebtedness to Afribank.
AMCON purchased the loan from the bank in 2010. Eight years later in 2019, it seized control of the company for failure to pay back the debt.
5. G. Cappa’s properties
In August 2015, a High Court in Lagos granted AMCON permission to take possession of two G. Cappa’s properties situated in Ebute Metta, Lagos.
The construction company had secured a ₦880 million loan facility from UBA in 2002. UBA sold the loan to AMCON when the company was unable to pay back or service the loan.
By the time the agency came into the picture, the loan had escalated to over ₦1.2 billion due to bank charges and interests.
In addition, the court also froze all bank accounts of G. Cappa’s held in any bank.
6. Gateway Portland Cement
July 2017 would be memorable for the owners of Gateway Portland Cement Limited (GPCL).
A High Court sitting in Abeokuta had granted the relief sought by AMCON to formally take possession of all factories and facilities of the company.
Located in Abeokuta and Mowe, GPCL got the hammer for an indebtedness of about N3 billion owed the asset/debt recovery agency.
7. Senator Stella Odua’s Sea Petroleum Oil and Gas Limited (SPOGL)
Stella Odua, former Minister of Aviation and a senator, and her company, SPOGL, must have seen this day coming since AMCON bought the company’s debt from Union Bank of Nigeria in 2012.
The seizure came after a Lagos High Court granted the injunction sought by the agency to compel SPOGL and its affiliates to surrender their operations to the government when they couldn’t meet the terms of a ₦20 billion debt repayment schedule.
All funds belonging to the company and its affiliates anywhere in the country were frozen.
The hammer fell on SPOGL on the 17th May 2019.
8. Osigwe foods and Agro-Industrial Company Limited
On the 19th of February this year, Chief Anselm Kayode Muhammed’s company, Osigwe Foods and Agro-Industrial Company Limited were taken over by AMCON on the orders of Justice Saliu Saidu of Federal High Court Lagos.
The company had borrowed about ₦5 billion from four banks: Union Bank, Unity Bank, Ecobank, and FinBank. Having failed to pay back as when due, the banks sold the debt to the agency.
Also to be forfeited by Chief Muhammed is his huge private residence at No 17, Sowemimo Street, Ikeja GRA, Lagos. The tenants in the residence would now pay rent to the government until the company liquidates its debts.
9. Ben Bruce’s Silverbird Group
This was one of the most celebrated takeovers of companies since the inception of AMCON.
On the 17th of June 2016, an interim order was granted by Justice Cecilia Ishola of a Federal High Court in Lagos mandating AMCON to seize control of all properties and assets belonging to Silverbird Group.
Silverbird had between 2005 and 2007, borrowed various sums of money from Union Bank of Nigerian. After defaulting on payment, the bank sold the debt to AMCON in 2011.
At the time of the forfeiture, Silverbird Group owed AMCON about ₦11 billion.
The companies affected were based in Victoria Island, Abuja, and Port Harcourt.
However, the takeover didn’t last more than two weeks as Bruce, a serving Senator and former Director General of the NTA, was agreed and signed a mutually acceptable repayment schedule with the agency.
10. Arik Airlines
The plight of Arik Air underscores the fact that no business concern is too big to fail.
On the 9th if February 2017, the biggest domestic airline in the country was saved from collapsing under a mountain of debts by AMCON on the orders of the Federal government.
Arik was being bogged down by debts totaling over ₦135 billion. To save jobs and investors funds, AMCON was compelled to act so that Arik can still operate as a going concern.
On the day AMCON took over Arik, the Executive Chairman of the airline, Chief Johnson Arumemi, was arrested by the EFCC.
Over a year later, AMCON is still unable to pay off the debts fully.
11. Aero Contractors
Aero Contractors, owned by the Ibru Family, had to be saved from itself by AMCON after the management proved incapable of turning around the fortunes of the company in spite of an injection of about ₦34 billion in loans.
The hammer came down on Aero in February 2016 after been in operations since 1959 making it the oldest airline in the country.
As at the time of the takeover, AMCON owned 60% of the company while the remaining 40 still belonged to the Ibru family.
Currently, the company is gradually been returned to profitability by the new management under the supervision of AMCON.
12. Afrijet Airlines
This time, it was the turn of Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor of the Federal High Court Lagos to grant an interim injunction in favor of AMCON against Afrijet Airlines.
Owned by Chief Vitalis Ibe, Afrijet was indebted to the tune of nearly ₦10 billion. In 2011, the asset recovery agency purchased the loan Afrijet took from FinBank and Bank PHB.
The assets forfeiture order, which was handed down June 2016, also affected other Ibe’s assets like Continental Aviation Services Limited; Plot 22, Jimoh Odutola Street, Surulere; and his office at the Lagos airport.
13. OAS Helicopters
Odengene Air-Shuttle Services (OAS) Limited was taken over by AMCON on the 14 of February 2017; just four days after the fate befell Arik Airlines.
Registered in 1992, the company is mostly known for its helicopter services In Lagos.
The takeover followed a court injunction by AMCON since OAS had failed to meets its debt obligations. Sources claim the debt was about a ₦100 billion.
14. Ifeanyi Ubah’s Capital Oil
The case of Ifeanyi Ubah’s Capital Oil is one of the most controversial takeovers in the history of AMCON.
In August 2013, AMCON had obtained a court order to take over the management of the company. AMCON alleged that Capital Oil was indebted to it by about ₦48 billion.
However, Ubah and Capital Oil disagreed and appeal the decision of the court. The subsequent litigations involved at least five courts in the land right up to the Supreme Court. Millions of naira was wasted in legal fees.
The last has not been heard of Capital Oil vs. AMCON.
15. Wokson International, Warri and Asaba
On the 22nd of May 2017, a Federal High Court in Lagos gave AMCON an injunction to seize the assets of Wokson International Limited over its ₦5 billion indebtedness.
The company, owned by Chief William Oki, also had all accounts belonging to it in anywhere in the country frozen.
Assets to be taken over included an asphalt plant, hotels and several houses belonging to the company.
16. Nwankwo Kanu’s Hardley Apartments
In December 2015, AMCON obtained an injunction from a Federal High Court Lagos over Hardley Apartments and its assets.
Hardley Apartments was the brainchild of Nwankwo Kanu, one of Nigeria’s most recognized/successful footballers.
According to the deposition, Hardley Apartments, Nwankwo Kanu, and his business partner had secured a loan of ₦520.457 million from Skye Bank between 2008 and 2011.
Unable to get their funds back, Skye Bank proceeded to sell the debt to AMCON in 2011.
By the time the forfeiture order came down, the indebtedness of Hardley Apartments had skyrocketed to ₦924, 788,754 due to the accumulation of interests on the original loan.
17. Mustapha Wushishi’s Mustasons Guest House
Alhaji Mustapha Wushishi felt the brunt of AMCON when his guest house was seized by AMCON on the orders of a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Apparently, Wushishi through his guest house located in Victoria Island owed the agency almost half a billion naira.
In addition to the seizure of the guest house, the court ordered all bank accounts linked to Mustapha Wushishi to be frozen
18. J. A Dama and Sons Limited
The billionaire businessman, Chief Johnson Dama’s J. A Dama and Sons Limited was taken possession of by AMCON on the orders of a Federal High Court in Lagos.
The company, with assets mostly in Warri, Delta State, was indebted to the tune of about ₦240 million.
The details of the forfeiture case show that Union Bank sold the debt to AMCON in 2010.
In giving the order in March 2017, the judge also froze all accounts belonging to Chief Dama and his company domiciled in any part of the country.
19. Wale Babalakin’s Bi-Courtney
Wale Babalakin’s case is almost as controversial as Ifeanyi Uba’s Capital Oil problem with AMCON.
In February 2013, AMCON had obtained a court order seizing all assets and properties belonging to Bi-Courtney and other companies belonging to Wale Babalakin.
One of the properties under the order included the new Murtala Muhammed Airport terminal.
This was over his indebtedness that amounted to over ₦50 billion.
Babalakin had gone to court challenging that order. However, in 2016, the courts rejected Babalakin’s claim that he was owed ₦300 billion by the Federal government.
The case is still ongoing.
These are some of the cases AMCON had dealt with since its inception. The current management headed by Ahmed Kuru, had two years ago, ramped up the recovery of bad loans from debtors.
According to the agency, the big debtors, about 400 of them, account for about ₦4.5 trillion owed. This is about 80% of the total amount from about 12,000 accounts.