NIGERIA: Cecilia Ibru Accuses FG of Violating Plea Bargain Agreement

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Justice Ahmed Mohammed of a Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed July 10 to hear the suit filed by the former Managing Director of the defunct Oceanic Bank International Plc. Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, seeking to compel the federal government to implement her plea bargain as specified in the agreement she signed with the government

Ibru instituted the suit through her lawyer, Dr. Ted Iseghohi-Edwards, on behalf of herself and the Ibru Group against the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

In the suit, she accused the government of breaching the terms of the agreement she entered into as part of her plea bargain in 2010.
Ibru is asking the court to make a declaration that the plea bargain and settlement agreement she entered with the federal government in 2010 was a valid and enforceable agreement between the parties and more particularly valid against the federal government or any of its organs, including but not limited to AMCON.

She also wants the court to declare that the striping of the assets and the subsequent sale of Oceanic Bank to Eko Bank was not part of the plea bargain and settlement agreement which she signed.
She also asked the court to declare the sale of the defunct bank a sham, mis-conceived, mischievous and of no legal consequences.

Furthermore, Ibru urged the court to also declare that Aero Contractors Nigeria Limited was also not on the list of the assets she forfeited to the federal government as part of her plea bargain and asked the court to declare that any attempt by AMCON to take over the airline or attach its assets as ultra vires and of no legal consequences.

At the root of the suit filed by the former chief executive officer of the defunct bank was a recent ex-parte order obtained from a Federal High Court in Lagos last November by AMCON against a private company, Sidochem Industries Limited, and the company's managing director, Mr. Edgar Sido, and two others over a loan of N433.5 million owed the defunct bank which AMCON acquired.

AMCON had approached the court in Lagos where it complained that the debtor company and the managing director who personally guaranteed the loans granted to the company by the defunct bank, had refused to resolve their indebtedness to the corporation and had been taking steps to frustrate every step it took  to recover the debt by using every manner of tricks to evade payment.

The corporation therefore  sought  an order of the court empowering it to take immediate possession of the assets and properties of the company covered in the deed of all assets debenture created by the company in favour of Oceanic Bank as well as the freezing of all accounts operated by the company in 19 commercial banks in Nigeria.

After Justice Idris granted the orders as requested by AMCON, Sidochem Industries Limited and its owners cried foul.
The company claimed that the debts it owed the defunct bank was among the matters resolved in the plea bargain judgment in the Cecilia Ibru's case.

In support of the company's claim are two deeds of ratification donated by both Sidochem Industries and Sido whereby they wholly transferred and released all of its rights, interests and estate in the assets forfeited to AMCON by Ibru as part of her plea bargain.

Iseghohi-Edwards pointed out that AMCON which was well represented by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in her plea bargain agreement and which was the sole beneficiary of all the properties she forfeited, had gone ahead to seal off an expanse of rental property completely unrelated to Sidochem's business on the strength of the ex-parte order it obtained from the Lagos court.

He argued that AMCON did not disclose the material facts to the court in Lagos as regards its consent to the plea bargain and settlement agreement where Mrs. Ibru, representing herself, the Ibru group and others forfeited properties listed under the forfeited assets part of the plea bargain.

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