An Abuja Federal High Court has issued an order to commence committal proceedings against the Managing Director of the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Ahmed Lawal over alleged seizure of NICON Insurance Ltd’s assets.
The court on Friday granted permission to Jimoh Ibrahim and three of his companies to commence committal proceedings against three principal officers of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) for allegedly flouting the court’s earlier orders.
The affected principal officers are the Managing Director, Lawal and two Executive Directors – Eberechukwu Uneze and Aminu Ismail.
Justice Okon Abang who delivered the ruling said in view of the allegations by Ibrahim and his companies that AMCON and other defendants in a suit pending before the court, flouted orders earlier made, the applicant were entitled to leave to commence committal proceedings against the alleged contemnors.
Justice Abang, in the ruling an ex-parte motion by Ibrahim and his three companies, ordered that Form 48 (notice of consequences of disobedience to order of court) and Form 49 (notice to show cause why an order for committal to prison should not be made pursuant to Section 72 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act and Order 9 Rule 13 of the Judgments Enforcement Rules) be issued and served on the three identified principal officers of AMCON.
The judge issued the orders after listening to lawyer to Ibrahim and his three companies, Victor Ogbonna, who claimed that despite giving undertakings to obey orders made by the court in the pending suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/760/2021 filed by his clients, AMCON flouted the orders by taking steps capable of undermining the subject of the pending suit.
The companies suing with Ibrahim are – NICON Investment Limited, NICON Insurance Limited and NICON Reinsurance Corporation Plc.
A copy of the enrolled order of the ruling, sighted in Abuja on Friday reads: “The court having considered the allegations that the 1st to 12th defendants (in the pending suit – FHC/ABJ/CS/760/2021) have flouted the undertakings freely, voluntarily given by their counsel on 16/8/2021 that the defendants will not take steps to undermine the subject matter of the plaintiffs’ suit and the said undertakings reaffirmed by their counsel in court in the proceedings of 9/3/2022.
“The court having also considered that, based on the said undertakings freely given by the defendants’ counsel and binding on the defendants, this court on 16/8/2021 made an order restraining the defendants from taking steps to flout order made in the plaintiffs favour pending hearing and determination of the suit.
“The having considered that the said undertaking was made by consent of the defendants and is not appealable except with leave of court.
“The court having also considered that it is alleged that the defendants violated the court’s order and the alleged violations are as mentioned in the body of the ruling delivered in the open court today the 11th of March, 2022.
“The court having considered that it is legally impossible to cite AMCON, as an institution, for contempt where it is alleged that it has flouted court’s order, that it is the natural persons, the principal officers, the prime movers, the alter ego, the directing minds that take decisions for AMCON.
“And the court having considered, where AMCON is alleged to have flouted court’s order, it is the natural persons that take decisions for it that should be cited for contempt.
“The court having considered that, in exercise of its disciplinary jurisdiction under its inherent powers as preserved under Section 6(6)A&B of 1999 Constitution (as amended), it is deserving to grant leave to enable the Plaintiffs commence committal proceedings against the principal officers of AMCON that take decisions for AMCON, as the court cannot grant an order in vain and a subsisting order of court is uncompromising binding on parties and must be obeyed unless set aside.
“And the having delivered its ruling in the open court and its reasoning and conclusions are as contained in the body of the ruling.
“It is hereby ordered as follows:
*That leave is hereby granted to the plaintiffs to commence committal proceedings by issuance of Forms 48 and 49 and same served on Ahmed Lawal Kure (Managing Director/CEO, AMCON), Eberechukwu Uneze (Executive Director AMCON) and Aminu Ismail (Executive Director AMCON) being natural persons, prime movers, alter ego, directing minds, principal officers of AMCON that allegedly flouted the subsisting order of court made on 16/8/2021 re-stated on 9/3/2022 predicated on the subsisting undertakings made by the defendants’ counsel given freely on 16/8/2021 that the defendants will not take steps to favour of the plaintiffs herein or undermine the subject matter of the suit pending hearing and determination of the plaintiffs’ suit.
*That the plaintiffs shall endorse Form 48 on the enrolled order of this court dated 9/3/2022 and same served on persons mentioned in item 1 of the instant enrolled order.
*That the plaintiffs shall as of right issue Forms 48 and 49 and same endorsed on the enrolled order of this court dated 9/3/2022 and served on the 3rd to 12th defendants.”