The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, on Tuesday, through Gbenga Fakoya, took over the assets of Daily Times Nigeria Plc over unpaid debt owed to defunct Hallmark Bank Plc. The Federal Government of Nigeria previously held 96.05 per cent shares in Daily Times of Nigeria Plc through NICON Insurance Plc. In a statement, AMCON explained that in 2004, the Federal Government during the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, called for bids from the general public as it sought to divest its stake in oldest newspaper conglomerate. Folio Communications Limited, owned by Fidelis Anosike and his brother Noel Anosike tendered a bid for the said shares and was confirmed by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), as the most preferred bidder for the shares. The BPE sold to Folio at the cost of N1.25 billion.
However, since the 2004 privatisation exercise, Folio Communications has been embattled with court cases following a loan of N750 million from Hallmark Bank Plc, which it secured to enable it pay the Federal Government for the newspaper company.According to reports, Folio also got DSV Limited promoted by Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah to invest N500 million in the purchase of the shares with the understanding that on concluding the transaction, DSV would be entitled to 40 per cent of the shareholding of the media empire. A year after the sale, in 2005 , Hallmark Bank Plc (now defunct), Folio Communications Limited, promoted by the Anosike brothers/Daily Times of Nigeria Plc and DSV Limited, promoted by Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah commenced several legal battles over the real ownership of the newspaper. In 2010, AMCON purchased the loan from the then Afribank Plc, which later became Mainstreet Bank. Consequently, Folio Communications Limited also dragged AMCON to court on several claims while Senator Obiorah commenced an action against the corporation in the name of Daily Times Plc at the Federal High Court vide suit no: FHC/L/CS/ 1254 /15 – the Daily Times Nigeria Plc vs AMCON. Both suits were however struck out by the respective courts. But having exhausted all avenues of peaceful resolution over the huge outstanding debt owed AMCON by the Daily Times Plc, the Federal High Court on February 1, 2018, presided over by Honourable Justice I. N Buba ordered AMCON to take over the Daily Times Plc. The court by the said order retrained the directors, shareholders, agents, servants, privies and /or employees howsoever described from preventing AMCON from taking possession of the Daily Times Plc. Daily Trust