A Federal High Court in Abuja has set aside the sale of telecommunication firm, Etisalat International Nigeria Limited (9mobile) to Teleology Nigeria Limited.
Justice Binta Nyako, in a ruling, voided all steps taken in relation to the exchange of ownership of Etisalat despite pending orders for maintenance of status quo, restraining parties to a suit, involving investors and other stakeholders in the company, from destroying the res (subject matter).
Justice Nyako, who noted that parties were all aware of the existence of the suit, the defendants having been served between April 24 and 27, 2018 with the originating process, faulted the sale, as claimed by the plaintiffs in a motion filed on November 16, 2018
The judge held: “Any action that has been taken concerning the rest 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.”
The ruling, given on April 1, 2019 (a copy of which was sighted on Thursday) was in a suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/288/2018 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 is estimated at $43,033,950, had sued to retrieve their investments on the grounds that they were aggrieved, having been excluded from the decision making process of the company.
Defendants in the suit are: 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 stated, in a supporting affidavit to the motion dated November 16, 2018, that they resorted to praying the court to void the sale of Etisalat, upon learning that the defendants have proceeded to conclude the transfer the company’s ownership despite the restraining orders made earlier by the court.
They said: “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.
“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.