Several shop owners doing business at Silverbird Galleria taken over yesterday by AMCON yesterday have started counting their losses .
Several of them who spoke with CKN News said they were taken unawares by the development.
According to them, they had no prior knowledge of the pending shutdown and takeover of the premises. Some of them have been tenants of for years and have been paying their rents as at when due.
They call on receiver Company to expedite action on the matter so that they can go back to their businesses.
The affected premises are Silverbird Galleria located in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
The Lagos’ property is located at 133 Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island; Abuja’s property is at Plot No 1161 (Silverbird Galleria), Central Area Cadastral Zone Apo, while Rivers’ is on Abonnema Wharf Road and Abali Park in Port Harcourt.
The takeover followed interim orders granted by Justice Cecilia Olatoregun-Ishola of the Lagos Federal High Court on June 17, which allowed the receiver and manager to take possession of the affected firms.
Agents of AMCON’s Receiver/Manager arrived at the firms in the early hours of yesterday in company of security operatives to take over the properties. Workers were prevented from entering the affected firms’ premises before they were locked up.
According to AMCON, Senator Bruce, using his firms in 2005 and 2007, borrowed various sums of money from the Union Bank of Nigeria Plc and defaulted in his obligations to pay back.
AMCON bought over the loans from the bank and reached agreement with Senator Bruce on repayment. But the lawmaker could not make up the debt with AMCON, prompting the takeover.
Counsel to the Receiver/Manager, Kunle Adegoke, said Senator Bruce’s loan was purchased by AMCON in 2011 after the capital base of Union Bank was “terribly shaky”. He said the lawmaker “persistently failed” to pay the loans.
Adegoke denied that AMCON’s action had political undertone, saying the takeover of Silverbird properties was legal and in line with mortgage laws.
He said: “Aside that the receivership was done pursuant to deeds of legal mortgages duly executed by the three companies and guaranteed by Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce and four of his brothers, there is a court order backing same up.
“It must be borne in mind that innocent depositors’ money is what Mr. Murray-Bruce and his brothers have been living large and feeding fat upon without recourse to the interest of the real labourers who own the money.”
Reacting to the development, Senator Bruce said he was on international transit when he got the news of the takeover. He expressed his resolve to remain composed, saying the development was not unusual for a business that has been in existence for over three decades.
Reacting to the development on Twitter, he said: “In 36 years, Silverbird has grown and like anybody, it will face challenges; tough times don’t last. But we, as tough people, outlast them.
“I have been on an international flight and have only just landed. The situation is being resolved and things will be back to normal.”