THE founder and co-owner of Silverbird Group, Ben Murray-Bruce, has expressed his resolve to remain composed in the wake of a nationwide shutdown of his business interests by AMCON.
He said Thursday’s development was not necessarily unusual for a company that had been in existence for over three decades.
“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,” Mr Murray-Bruce said in a reaction posted on his Twitter handle on Thursday afternoon.
He said he was in transit on an international flight when officials of AMCON took possession of Silverbird Group’s properties in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt in the early hours, adding that his businesses would soon be back in operation.
“The situation is being resolved and things will be back to normal,” he said.
Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has taken over the management of companies belonging to the Murray-Bruce and appointed receiver to the entities.
The Federal High Court, Lagos Division, on Friday June 17, 2016, granted interim injunction against Silverbird Productions Limited, Silverbird Showtime Limited, Silverbird Galleria Limited and Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, Guy Murray-Bruce, Roy Murray-Bruce and Janthan Murray-Bruce on the application of AMCON.
AMCON has since appointed M.A Banire as receiver to the companies.
Justice C.M.A. Olatoregun, the presiding judge, while granting the order on the application of counsel for AMCON, restrained Senator Ben Murray-Bruce and other obligors that owed AMCON over N10 billion from challenging, interfering with or otherwise obstructing or frustrating the receiver (M.A Banire) appointed by AMCON over the fixed and floating assets of the listed companies belonging to the Murray-Bruce family.
Confirming this in a statement to newsmen, signed by Jude Nwauzor, Head, Corporate Communications AMCON, the corporation said contrary to news making the rounds since the takeover, AMCON did not shut down the concerned companies.
“We appointed a receiver that took over the companies in the early hours of Thursday, June 23, as ordered by the Federal High Court and the receiver would be responsible for the companies on behalf of AMCON going forward,” it stated.
The court order affected the mortgaged asset located at Central Area, Cadastral Zone, AOO Plot No. 1161, Abuja, the mortgaged asset at Abonnema Wharf Road and Abali Park in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as well as the mortgaged asset at 133, Ahmadu Bello Way, Lagos, where the Silverbird Galleria is located.
The court also ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Assistant Inspectors-General of Police and the Commissioner of Police in charge of Lagos State, its deputy and all other police officers under them to assist Banire, the receiver and the bailiffs of the Federal High Court in the enforcement of the orders of the court.
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce is a serving senator representing Bayelsa East constituency of Bayelsa State.
He is a director of several companies in the country, including Silverbird Television, Rhythm 93.7 FM radio station and Silverbird Galleria spread across Nigeria and Ghana.
He also promotes Silverbird’s Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN), a beauty pageant that produced the likes of Omasan Buwa, Bianca Onoh and Agbani Darego, just to mention a few.
Meanwhile, 400 obligors of AMCON account for more than N4.5 trillion, which is approximately 80 per cent of the total outstanding loan balance of the corporation’s over 12,000 accounts with obligors that have become recalcitrant over time, despite obvious efforts of the corporation.
To deal with the situation, however, AMCON recently increased the tempo of its recovery activities, using firmer negotiation strategies as well as utilising the special enforcement powers vested by the AMCON Act to compel some of its recalcitrant debtors, especially those that are politically exposed and business heavyweights, to repay their debts.