Appeal Court Reserves Suit on Ownership of Daily Times for Judgment

11 Feb 2013

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The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal has reserved for judgment the appeal filed by Folio Communications Limited and four others to challenge the nullification their acquisition of the majority shares of Daily Times of Nigeria (DTN) by Justice Okechuwku Okeke of a Federal High Court in Lagos in 2010.

The presiding judge of the court, Justice Amina Augie, reserved the appeal for judgment after listening to parties in the suit.
She said the court would communicate a date for judgment to them.
Justice Okeke had held that Folio Communications, which is owned by Fidelis Anosike, did not pay for the majority shares of DTN and that it was unlawful for the company to still parade itself as a shareholder of DTN.

The judge consequently declared the acquisition was null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
He further reverted the shares acquired by Folio Communications back to DTN.
The court order was sequel to a suit filed by a shareholder of the newspaper house, D.S.V Limited, who complained of gross and illegal sale of DTN assets by the managing director of Folio Communication, Fidelis Anosike.
The court order was sequel to a suit filed by a shareholder of the newspaper house, D.S.V Limited, who complained of gross and illegal sale of DTN assets.

According to an affidavit in support of the suit deposed to by one Chinedu Oranuba, the plaintiff stated that the Federal Government represented by NICON Insurance held 96.05 per cent of DTN’s shares and that pursuant to the privatisation programme of the government, bids were invited from prospective investors.
It stressed that Folio Communications later emerged the preferred bidder for the Federal Government shares in DTN, but because Folio was in no position to make immediate payment for the shares, it resorted to borrowing the sum of N750 million for the purchase of the famous newspaper house in the country.

The petitioner added that as soon as the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) handed over the business and undertakings of DTN to Folio Communications, Fidelis Anisoke and his brothers, Charles and Noel, pounced on the assets of DTN to the detriment of other shareholders of the newspaper house.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, the appellants approached the Court of the Appeal.
In their notice of appeal, they prayed the appellate court to set aside the judgment contending that the said judgment was delivered without hearing the issue of jurisdiction raised by the appellant.
They also asked for an order of court remitting the case to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment to another judge to hear the issue of locus standi of the petitioner namely DSV limited.

Besides, the appellants contented that the trial judge erred in law when he dismissed their application for leave to raise the issue of jurisdiction which challenged the locus standi of DSV limited before the delivery of the judgment.
They maintained that the trial judge erred in law when he held that Folio Communications Limited did not pay for the 140, 252, 900 shares allotted to it.

Tags: Appeal Court, Featured, News, Nigeria

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