Chairman of Suru Group traces the origin of his problem with AMCON to when Ecobank without notice, sold their performing loan to AMCON.
A leading real estate developer in Lagos State and Chairman, Suru Group of Companies, Edward Akinlade, has sent a Save our Soul (So) call to the Federal and Lagos State governments to intervene in a dispute between his company and the Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON.
The duo has for several years locked horns over ownership of Best Western Hotel, located on Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos, Akinlade accused AMCON of impunity and for distorting the structure of the hotel, which it forcefully seized and still in its possession, against the law.
Akinlade traced the protracted crisis to 2010 when his company was banking with Ecobank.
He said: “Our N13 billion fund was canceled after we had drawn N10 billion. About this time, we had already bought our properties in GRA, Opebi and Best Western Hotel.
“We were servicing our loan until our performing loan was sold to AMCON. AMCON was not supposed to buy servicing loans.
“So, we sued Ecobank for selling our loan, and this case is still at the Federal High Court
“AMCON counterclaimed our case and said we had owed N26 million. It was later discovered that Ecobank had sold our loan to AMCON for N8.3 billion without notifying us.
“We want it to be on record that we have never taken AMCON to court. This is because we believe we have no business with AMCON but the bank which sold our active loan to the agency.
“As we speak, all the cases we had and won, were filed by AMCON and the three different suits were all won by Suru Group.”
According to the businessman: “We are particularly dissatisfied with the blatant disregard for the rule of law being displayed by a highly revered agency, such as AMCON, and Ahmed Kuru being a mechanism in the temple of justice that ought to respect and uphold the tenets of law rather than disrespect the court.”
He said Suru Group had won all the cases instituted against it by AMCON, which has also appealed its losses at the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court but wondered why it is in a hurry and not waiting for the apex court to rule on the matter it brought before it.
“While the case is at the Supreme Court, you can see what they are doing; illegality upon illegality. They cannot sell the property; they cannot renovate it because it is against the law.”
Akinlade, who is not averse to amicable resolution of the matter, lamented that apart from flouting court rulings, the government agency has also ignored interventions, even by the Attorney general of the country and the House of Representatives and gone ahead to reconstruct the hotel edifice.
“In the last one year, the Attorney General was involved, Public Hearing of the House of Representatives has been involved, AMCON ignored all of them. They didn’t come. And when a resolution was reached through the Attorney General’s Office, AMCON said no,” the Suru Group boss said.
“This hotel is supposed to be sealed. No work is expected to be taking place there but AMCON is in its possession. So, I came here to state our position. Our position is very clear. AMCON said we owed them money and we claimed we didn’t owe them anything.
“They sued us in the Federal High Court before Justice Hassan. We won the case. They appealed to the court of appeal; we also won at the appeal court. They have further appealed at the Supreme Court. The case is coming up in September.
“No work is expected to be taking place there. But AMCON seems to have demolished a substantial part of the hotel, the windows, the floors, and everything. Also, the Lagos State said the building is in danger of falling.”
Akinlade accused AMCON of killing businesses and impoverishing the people.
“They have distorted the hotel; a hotel that was worth over N6 billion. What this hotel is worth now is about N500 million. So, you can see how AMCON kills businesses. Over 500 people were working in this hotel up till December 2017 when AMCON invaded it with guns without a court order.
Akinlade stated that he is confused as regards what is ongoing in his hotel and pleaded with both the Federal and Lagos State governments to intervene in the matter and lamented how AMCON has proved to be above the law and continued to act with impunity.
“Are they the ones working at the hotel? The question now is who owns the hotel? Have they sold the hotel? Who is working there? For what purpose? If we have gotten the Court of Appeal’s ruling in our favour, why are they here? AMCON needs to provide answers to all these.
“I am appealing again to the Attorney General of Nigeria, I am appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to call Ahmed Kuru to order because if this hotel falls and people die, I would not be held responsible.”