After weeks of drama by the management and staff of Best Western Hotels, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has finally taken over the hotel in Ikeja Lagos over a N27 billion debt following a court order. Recall that when AMCON obtained the order, it made series of attempts with the police and court bailiffs to enforce on the order, but the promoter of the hotel refused to allow them carry out their lawful assignment.
The order mandated the government agency to seal up and take over the management of the hotel belonging to Mr. Edward Akinlade, Group Managing Director of Suru Worldwide Ventures Nigeria Limited, pending a resolution of the debt. Mr. Akinlade, according to the report was alleged to have owed Oceanic Bank, which was bought over by Ecobank N13.4 billion in 2011. Newsbitsng gathered that the debt has been a subject of protracted litigation.
It was further gathered that since AMCON obtained the court order, it has not been able to take over because Mr. Akinlade and his workers refused AMCON to carry out the court order. Considering the fact that the entity that was involved is a hospitality, which is very sensitive to brand erosion incidents, AMCON did not want to create any scene that would send the wrong signal to customers and patrons of the hotel.
AMCON said it was working according to a court order, dated August 4, 2017 granted by Justice M.B Idris, which confirmed that the corporation had sued the Inspector General of Police, Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and civil defence corps and the Lagos State Commandant of the Corps as defendants and AMCON which gave it as a government agency, the mandate to take over possession of a non performing loan.
The judgment stated that due to the default of the debtor to liquidate its indebtedness to the plaintiff (AMCON) the powers and rights of the plaintiff as a secured creditor under the three Deeds of Legal Mortgage registered as 32/32/2033, 88/88/2032 and 89/89/2028 in respect of the properties earlier listed have arisen and therefore become exercisable.
AMCON under the current management team led by its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, has continually maintained that there would be no rest for recalcitrant debtors of the corporation like in the case of the promoters of Gateway Portland Cement Limited, which he said remained the only way AMCON mandate could be realised within the timeframe of the assignment and in the interest of the country’s economy.
Kuru recently disclosed that 350 obligors’ accounts represented about 80 per cent of AMCON’s current exposure of N2.5 trillion as at December 31, 2016. Kure had also said it was based on this that AMCON repositioned its debt recovery approach to strengthen legal and credit restructuring units to collaborate on the aforementioned 350 accounts, which he termed “defaulters”; enhance the restructuring and turnaround team; and engage in asset tracing to enhance recoveries.
Head, Corporate Communications, AMCON, Jude Nwauzor confirmed the story in a telephone interview when we called. He said, “Yes it is true that we have taken over the place and not a shut down as you are alleging. We obtained a court order, which gave us the mandate to take over the place a huge debt, which you know.”
Asked what would become of the fate of the hotel going forward since he said the place would not be shut down, Nwauzor again said, “It depends on a number of variables of which I do not have the details at the moment. The incident is still unfolding but it remains a hotel; a hospitality destination in heart of Ikeja for that matter. Ikeja as you know is like the Texas of Lagos State with 24/7 business activities so we expect increased patronage for Best Western Hotel.”