Residents and landlords of Victory Park Estate, Lekki, Lagos State have accused the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) of harassment over their properties, despite pending court cases and orders.
Two of such cases were filed by Mrs. Bose Ibude and Mr. Okechukwu Okoli and his wife against AMCON and its Receiver/Manager, Mr. Lanre Olaoluwa.
The Plaintiffs obtained injunctions against the Respondents. AMCON and Olaoluwa appealed.
The Estate spans almost 50 hectares, and is one of the gated communities in the Igbokushu area of Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1.
The Residents are accusing AMCON and its Receiver/Manager of outright disregard for law and order, and illegal use of official powers.
They claimed to have bought plots of land in the Estate from Grant Properties Ltd, a company promoted by the late Rev Olajide Awosedo and his family, and obtained the relevant title documents. According to them, in 2003, Grant Properties and Knight Rook approached some of them individually and offered them plots in the Estate, following which they invested their hard-earned money and life savings; others obtained mortgage loans.
The Residents said before paying, they carried out checks to ascertain that there were no caveats or encumbrances at the Lands Registry or the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Assured that the coast was clear, they purchased their various plots legally from Grant Properties/Knight Rook, the only companies authorised to sell plots of land in the Estate.
The Home Owners said from 2003 till June 2017, they continued to buy into the Estate; some developed their properties and started living in the Estate without harassment. They also registered their titles, obtained the consent of the Governor, and paid their Land Use Charge as and when due.
Issues arose when AMCON moved to recover alleged credit facilities granted to the late Awosedo, the Chairman of Grant Properties Limited and Knight Rook Ltd, which executed the title documents to the property in the Estate.
To the Residents’ shock, sometime in June 2017, they woke up to a publication that Knight Rook, the owner of the global certificate of occupancy over Victory Park Estate, was in receivership with other companies over a loan Grant Properties Ltd allegedly took from Sterling Bank, Skye bank (now Polaris bank), Wema Bank and FCMB.
The shares of Knight Rook Ltd were said to have been used as security for the loans. The banks allegedly sold the unpaid loan as eligible bank assets, to AMCON.
The Residents said it was very puzzling that from 2006 until AMCON’s publication of putting the companies in receivership in 2017, members of the public were made to believe that the Awosedos were executing the banks’ instructions.
AMCON appointed Mr. Olaoluwa as Receiver/Manager to take over the assets of Knight Rook Ltd and its parent company, Grant Properties Ltd. AMCON and Olaoluwa said, are not only taking over unoccupied and undeveloped properties, but the ones in occupation, with residents being forced out with thugs and the Police.
The Plaintiffs said many of the plots targeted by AMCON were already sold to third parties before the take-over by the banks, and the eventual transfer of the assets to AMCON. To them, these properties cannot form part of the assets of Knight Rook Ltd.
AMCON is laying claims to all the land in Victory Park Estate, whether already sold and developed. The Victory Park Homeowners and Residents Association met with both AMCON and the Receiver/Manager in a bid to amicably resolve the issue. Efforts to settle out of court, however, failed. Some were asked to revalidate their title to plots of land they legally acquired from Knight Rook Ltd, for a sum more than what they had bought the plots for.
Many of the residents have instituted court actions seeking declarations, injunctions and orders preventing AMCON, Olaoluwa and his agents from trespassing on the plots of land, pending the court’s decision. One of the Plaintiffs, Mrs. Ibude, said she bought her property in 2014 and obtained the Governor’s consent on February 15, 2015.
According to her, the property is registered as No. 64 at Page 64 in Volume 2493 of the Lagos State Land Registry.
She filed a suit numbered LD/9769LMW/2020 against AMCON, Olaoluwa and three others at the Lagos State High Court. She obtained an order directing the parties to the suit to maintain status quo.
The order also restrained the Receiver/Manager and his agents from taking any other steps or actions on the properties, until the court makes a final determination on the rightful owner of the property.
Mr. and Mrs. Okoli filed the suit numbered LD/8277LMW/19 against Olaoluwa and AMCON.
They are challenging their forceful ejection from their property, which they claim has been purportedly sold to third parties by AMCON and Mr. Olaoluwa. According to them, the property was sold despite the restraining order against AMCON and Olaoluwa.
Last December, the Court of Appeal, while upholding the powers of the court to make the restraining orders and injunctions, held in AMCON v Adedayo Mumini Shittu (CA/L/1266/2019): “The provision of Section 34(6) of the AMCON Act seeks to curtail the discretion of the court and also seeks to curtail the rights of citizens to seek redress or help from the court”.
But, the Home Owners said the agency has continued to disregard the sanctity of court by selling the legally-owned properties to third parties, while the court is yet to determine the rights and obligations of the parties.
They are also urging President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, AMCON Chairman Edward Lametek Adamu, and its Managing Director, Ahmed Kuru, to intervene as the Corporation is not above the law.