By Goddy Egene
The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has suspended trading in the shares of Ikeja Hotels Plc following the continued dispute among the major shareholders of the company. According to the NSE, the suspension, which is pursuant to the Provisions of Rule 15.45 of its Rulebook, is to safeguard shareholders of the company as the dispute has negatively impacted the company’s governance structure.
Ikeja Hotels Plc, which owns Lagos Sheraton Hotel, has been involved in a boardroom crisis, a development that led to some of the shareholders removing its chairman, Mr. Goodie Ibru early 2015 at an extra-ordinary general meeting (EGM).
Three shareholders (Alurum Investments Limited, Dadifoll Limited, and RFC Limited) on behalf of others, had procured an order of the Federal High Court in Lagos sanctioning the EGM.
However, on getting to the venue of the meeting, the shareholders were prevented from entering the venue through another order procured by representatives of Goodie Ibru from another Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The shareholders decided to conduct the EGM standing outside the premises of the hotel and passed all the resolutions for the EGM through a poll, at the end of which 53.34 per cent voted for the resolutions, while 0.001 per cent voted against it, thus leading to the ouster of Ibru as board chairman.
Speaking at the meeting, a director of the company said having formed a quorum, the shareholders had to recourse to the provisions of Section 240(1 and 2) of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), to conduct the meeting.
Some of the shareholders, who spoke at the EGM last year, said they were tired of the way the company was being run and were determined to rescue it. They decried the fact that Ibru, who is lawyer and former President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) was showing bad example in corporate governance.
For instance, the President, Nigeria Solidarity Shareholders Association (NSSA), Chief Timothy Adesiyan said: “We are rescuing this company from the hands of the cabals. We are legally authorised to hold this meeting. The regulators have failed us, let them come and see what is happening. We want to remove the virus that is eating deep into this company. How long shall we wait? You will see changes after today. There must be transparency and accountability in this company. Our auditors have also compromised.”
However, Ibru had faulted his removal as chairman of Ikeja Hotel and the crisis has lingered for over a year.
Recently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibru wanted over alleged capital market fraud involving the Ikeja Hotel shares.
The Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, had said in statement that Ibru was also wanted for alleged money laundering.
“The public is hereby notified that Goodie Minabo Ibru is wanted by the EFCC in connection with a case of conspiracy, capital market fraud, stealing, diversion of funds and money laundering.
“He diverted billions of naira and assets of Ikeja Hotels Plc, owners of Sheraton Hotel, Lagos; Federal Palace Hotel and Capital Hotel; owners of Sheraton Hotel Abuja to his personal benefit,” EFCC said.