AMCON, Arumemi-Ikhide spat deepens over N400 billion Arik, Rockson Engineering Ltd debt

  •  Asset recovery firm vows to recover N5 trillion debts

From all indications, there appears to be no end to the face-off between the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Arik Air founder, Sir Arumemi Johnson regarding the activities of the Receiver Manager of Arik Air Limited, Mr. Kamilu Alaba Omokide, a Senior Vice President at AMCON who is being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Arik Air’s founder had accused AMCON of assets stripping and alleged fraud by the Receiver Manager of the carrier, necessitating its counsel to petition the anti-graft body that took in Omokide for questioning last week.

Consequently, AMCON said contrary to the claim of N297.3 billion owed by Arik, the assets recovery body put the total debt of the airline at over N400 billion.

Arik Air’s aircraft

AMCON is irked and lamented that despite the huge indebtedness of Arik to it totaling more than N400 billion, the airline founder had continued to seek help outside the courts with no plans on how to liquidate the humungous debts.

Counsel to Aumemi-Ikhide, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) had petitioned Omokide on an issue that the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) said is clearly before competent courts of law.

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AMCON, a debt recovery agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria has for years now been dragged to courts by several alleged debtors including Sir Arumemi Johnson, who AMCON had severally described as not just a ‘high-profile and recalcitrant obligor.’

Some of the companies linked to Sir Arumemi Johnson that cumulatively owe AMCON the humongous amount of over N400billion include Arik Air Limited, and Rockson Engineering Limited, which was given the contract to build seven Nigerian National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), which it said would have improved power generation in the country, Ojemai Farms Limited amongst others.

A reliable source who understands the inside story told our correspondent that most of the issues raised in the petition are also the subject of cases before the courts.

“In addition, he said court pronouncements have also been made on some of them. He, therefore, wondered how Sir Arumemi Johnson, whose debt profile is one of the heaviest in AMCON books, and who should be the one being investigated, is the one instigating others sponsoring smear campaigns against AMCON”.

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He added, “It is strange that he is seeking for other sources of evading justice and repayment.  The fact remains that Sir Arumemi Johnson and his companies owe AMCON over N400 billion. This can only happen in Nigeria, and I hope the new administration led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu would address some of these impunities by rich and powerful men in Nigeria.”

“Even though AMCON had indeed, and to a large extent remained civil in all their dealings with Sir Arumemi Johnson, he had at some point provided AMCON with proposals and resolution plans that were heavily tainted with lies only to turn around to claim that the Receiver Manager appointed by AMCON mismanaged N120billion as contained in the said petition”.

 “It is Misleading, full of outright and deliberate lies interspersed with mischief. If you recall, Arik was totally rundown, heavily indebted, with Sir Arumemi Johnson unable to make the repayment, which led to the appointment of the Receiver Manager by AMCON in the first place.”

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“And do not forget that the appointment of the Receiver Manager by AMCON was carried out in line with the provisions of the AMCON Act (as amended). Therefore, attempts to disparage the Receivership and work of the Receiver Manager with the intention of frustrating his work will not succeed because he is carrying out his legitimate work,” he added.

Although Jude Nwauzor, Head, of the Corporate Communications Department of AMCON refused to comment on this development when we contacted him, AMCON had previously through different public engagements told the public that it would continue to carry out its legitimate responsibility of recovering the huge outstanding debt of nearly N5trillion owed AMCON by the obligors no matter the intensity of the blackmail, misrepresentation of facts, denials, campaigns of calumny, media trials, intimidation, or any other strategy adopted by the obligors to slow down the corporation’s recovery strategy.

Wole Shadare