Jurists Back Alternative Dispute Resolution To Recover AMCON’s N5tr Debt

Leading jurists in the country, at the weekend, in Abuja, again urged the management of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to explore opportunities offered by Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) centres established by the Federal High Court for quick recovery of its huge outstanding debt.
The advice came against the background of the fact that while the corporation lifespan gradually draws to a close, over N5tr, or 80% of its outstanding debts are owed by just 350 individuals in the country. Also, the corporation is currently involved in over 3,000 court cases.
The jurists spoke at the Abuja version of the 2019 Annual Seminar for External Solicitors and Asset Management Partners (AMPs), urged AMCON to refer some of its cases to ADR as a faster way of recovering the outstanding debts, rather than endure endlessly courts processes.
According to Justice Ibrahim Buba, of the Federal High Court In Ikoyi, Lagos, who chaired one of the sessions “every judge is supposed to promote ADR because it is faster. ADR was set up to help the courts. If you say you don’t want ADR, then you have to be ready to waste your time in court. It is not that the courts deliberately delay your cases, but the courts are overwhelmed by the barrage of cases before them.”
Speaking on why court cases are piling up, Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Division, who also chaired another session, at the event co-organised by Legal Academy, challenged AMCON lawyers to familiarize themselves with the legal procedures before appearing in court. Where lawyers handling AMCON cases do not follow procedure, she noted, they will not take off, following which the Federal High Court is trying to establish three more ADR centres in the country for ease of dispensation of justice.
“Once the ADR centres are open, I want to encourage our lawyers to refer some of these AMCON cases to the ADR centres and help decongest the courts,” she stressed.
Welcoming participants and facilitators, AMCON Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Ahmed Lawan Kuru, lamented the corporation’s huge N5tr outstanding debt, which will eventually become a burden to the Federal Government if at sunset AMCON fails to recover.
Kuru, who was represented by Aminu Ismail, Executive Director, Operations of AMCON also charged AMCON lawyers to brace up, because “we have noticed increased incidences of obligors taking advantage of the appeal process to deny us the benefit of favourable judgments obtained.
“Going forward, we should be conscious of the availability of the opportunity to request the courts to order litigants to deposit judgment consideration with the court registrars. This will mitigate the practice of obligors deliberately dragging their matters in court,” just as he stressed the need for AMCON council and Asset Management Partners (AMPs) to take advantage of the special provision on accelerated hearing of AMCON matters, given that the Practice Rules allow the courts to sit from day-to-day, even on the weekends, at their discretion.
He added, “the starting point for all our external lawyers and AMPs, is the AMCON Act. If you are not familiar with the provisions of the AMCON Act, you will not be able to understand why AMCON is a unique institution. The essence of enacting special legislation for the establishment of AMCON and the regulation of its operations is to remove it from the established common law principles and procedure of debt recovery. Therefore, it is essential for our lawyers and AMPs to be abreast with the AMCON Act and Practice Rules.”

Photo Caption
Sitting from right to left: Justice I.N.Buba; Dr. Chuka Agbu SAN; Justice B.F.M. Nyako; Dr. Bode Ayorinde SAN; Justice C.M.A. Olatoregun; Aminu Ismail, Executive Director, AMCON; Justice Nnamdi Dimgba; Olugbenga Bello and Saidu Jallo, Company Secretary/Legal Adviser in a group photograph with other participants at the seminar…in Abuja at the weekend.