The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has nullified the sale of telecommunication firm, Etisalat International Nigeria Limited (9mobile) to Teleology Nigeria Limited.
The presiding judge, Justice Binta Nyako, invalidated all steps that were taken with respect to the exchange of ownership of the defunct Etisalat and that such steps amounted to a nullity since they were taken despite an express order of the court that directed all the parties to maintain status quo, pending the determination of legal dispute involving investors and other stakeholders in the company.The Judge said there was evidence before the
court that all the parties were aware of the existence of the suit, noting that the defendants were duly served with the relevant court processes between April 24 and 27, 2018. She observed that according to a motion that was filed by the plaintiffs on November 16, 2018, change of ownership of the telecommunications company was effected after the parties were notified that the court was already seized of the facts of the matter.
“Any action that has been taken concerning the Res of this litigation from the 25th day of April, which is earlier in time, should revert to the position, as of the Res, to its 25th day of April 2018,” Justice Nyako held.
The ruling followed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/288/2018, which was filed on April 6, 2018, by two major investors in Etisalat, Afdin Ventures Limited and Dirbia Nigeria Limited.
Afdin and Dirbia, whose investments in Etisalat was estimated at $43,033,950, had sued to retrieve their investments on the premise that they were aggrieved, having been excluded from the decision making process of the company.
Cited as defendants in the matter were Karington Telecommunication Ltd, Premium Telecommunications Holdings NV, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Central Bank of Nigeria, Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd and Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC).
The plaintiffs had said they met the court to void the sale of Etisalat, upon learning that the defendants have proceeded to conclude the transfer of the company’s ownership despite earlier restraining orders.
“In 2009, the plaintiffs/applicants purchased a total of 4,303,391 class “A” shares from the 1st, 2nd and 5th defendants (Karlingtton, Premium Telecommunication and Etisalat International) at the rate of $43,033,950 only, and were issued with share certificates,” they said in a supporting affidavit to the motion dated November 16, 2018.
“In 2010, the defendants rebranded Etisalat Nigeria Limited to 9mobile and entered into negotiations with Smile.com and Glo Network to transfer its licence without recourse to the plaintiffs.
“When the plaintiffs became aware of the purported transaction, they filed this suit along with two applications namely: motion ex-parte and motion on notice, seeking for an order of injunction to restrain the defendants from going ahead with the transaction.
“When this suit came up for hearing on the 17th of April, 2018, this honourable court ordered parties to maintain status quo-pending the determination of the motion on notice.”
Defendants in the suit are: Karington Telecommunication Ltd, Premium Telecommunications Holdings NV, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Teleology formally took over the management of 9mobile following the issuance of the final approval of no objection by the board of the NCC on November 12, 2018.
Posted by Yetunde Adegoke