This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Court Affirms Obiora As Chairman, Daily Times

A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday affirmed Senator Ikechukwu Obiora, as the Chairman of the Daily Times of Nigeria Plc, just as it held that there was no uncertainty in the affairs of the company relating to its share capital, shareholders, directors, chairman and secretary.

Justice Aliyu Mohammed in his judgment in a suit brought by Daily Times against 3 DOM Limited and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), granted all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff among which is a declaration that the resolution of the plaintiff and particulars of the plaintiff removing some directors while retaining some and appointing others made on February 1 and 2, 2010 respectively and certified by the CAC on February 5, 2010 is valid and subsisting.

The judge also declared that the current Directors of Daily Times, the plaintiff, to the exclusion of all others are: Ikechukwu Obiora, Chinedu Oranuba, Adetokunbo Kayode, Umar Na'Abba Ghali, Chudi Ofodile, Muniru Abiola, Emeka Mbonu, Zakariya Usman Mohammed and Rashid Adepoju.

Justice Mohammed said: "Having painstakingly gone through the process, I hold that the plaintiff is an on going concern, the first defendant (3 DOM Limited) has admitted that he disqualified the plaintiff from the bidding, it is however strange that the first defendant did not deem it fit to explain its reasons, Its action is rash and completely unreasonable, CAC has stated categorically that there is no uncertainty in the state of affairs of the plaintiff, I therefore grant all reliefs sought by the plaintiff."

But in a reaction to the judgment, Folio Communications Limited said the judgment was a nullity because a similar case is pending before the Court of Appeal in Lagos.

A statement signed by the Group Managing Director of Folio Communications Limited, Mr. Noel Anosike, said: "If a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja or anywhere for that matter gives ruling on a case subsisting at the Court of Appeal, that so-called ruling or judgment is null and void and therefore of no consequence. This is the position of the law in Nigeria and this too is well known to even primary school pupils.

"This same matter of Ikechukwu Obiora making desperate efforts to lay claim to the ownership of Daily Times is presently at the Court of Appeal in Lagos. The matter came up two days ago, February 5, 2013. For any High Court which is of a lower jurisdiction to give ruling on the matter is another case of politicians using dubious means to make a mockery of the nation's judiciary and abuse court processes."

Obiorah, in his reaction to the judgment said with the decision of the court, the Board of Directors would now go after those who vandalised and sold the properties of the Daily Times of Nigeria Plc, the flagship of the nation's newspaper industry just as he declared that the company would be restructured and made viable once again.

He said: "With this decision by the court, it has cleared the fact as to the ownership of the company, as you were in court and heard the judge when he said that there is no uncertainty in the affairs of the Daily Times of Nigeria Plc in relation to its shareholders, share capital, Directors, Chairman and Company Secretary.

"We are going after those that vandalised the machines, sold the properties of the company, and we are going to restructure and return the paper to the streets. We are going to contribute in informing and enlightening Nigerians. We are focused in revamping the company. But nobody that took part in looting of the company will go free."

The court also held that the current shareholders of the Daily Times of Nigeria Plc and shares held by them are Arkngel Global Limited 70,126,045, Bontez Corporate and Allied Services Limited, 70,126,045, DSV Limited 93,501,938, Sundary Shareholders 9,600, Independence Day Publications Limited 1,542,643,161 and Wiparquet Limited with 1,542,643,161 shares.

While rejecting the judgment Anosike on behalf of Folio Communications stated that every Nigerian was aware that Folio Communications Limited bought Daily Times through a transparent transaction that conformed with due process and the Acts establishing the BPE.

He said: "Folio communications owns 96.5 per cent share capital of Daily Times. This was gazetted by the Federal Government and nothing has happened to change that position.

"Running from a Federal High Court to obtain a kangaroo judgment on a case subsisting at the Court of Appeal is another of the several antics that Ikechukwu Obiora has resorted to, with the aim of misleading the public.

"For the avoidance of doubt, Folio Communications Limited wants to state categorically that Ikechukwu Obiora is not the owner of Daily Times. He can never be the owner of Daily Times. The court cannot give you what does not belong to you. Ikechukwu Obiora is a respondent at the Court of Appeal. He cannot come to a lower court in Abuja to become a plaintiff.

"For the avoidance of doubt, Daily Times did not file any suit against 3DOM Limited in which it joined the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) as the so-called judgment said."

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