Newswatch:  Jimoh Ibrahim Wins in Appeal Court

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Ugo Aliogo
The Court of Appeal in Lagos has set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered  on October 20, 2014 and affirmed Mr.  Jimoh Ibrahim as the legal owner of Newswatch.
In a unanimous judgment read by Justice Tijjani Abubakar, the three-man panel of justices said the appeal by lbrahim “is meritorious and it is hereby allowed.”

 The judgment was delivered on March 20 this year.
Other justices on the panel were Justice Garba Abubakar and Justice Abimbola Obaseki-Adejumo.
The  justices further said the trial judge misdirected himself on the issue of the payment of the sum of N510 million for the shares of the company.

They further ruled that the issue of payment for the share “becomes res judicata” since the payment was already litigated upon and Justice Abang has ruled that payment of the said sum was made by Ibrahim to the former owners of the company in accordance with clause 6.0 of the share purchase agreement.

In the light of the above, they declared that the company was validly acquired.
The court further held that all the conditions of the Share Purchase Agreement particularly clause 6.0 were adequately complied with before Ibrahim was admitted into the board of the company and subsequently elected as the chairman.
“lt is without any doubt, that the lower court erred when it held that N510 million was not paid for the shares,” the justices said.

Justice Abubakar declared:  “I think the learned trial judge apparently missed the point when he only considered questions submitted via originating summons without considering the other processes filed wherein which constitute an integral part of the records before him, particularly the defendant affidavit.”

The Appeal Court also ruled that the trial judge, Justice Buba of the Federal High Court erred when he held that the “doctrine of estoppel” is not applicable in the present case.
Ibrahim won the ownership case at a  Federal High Court.

The matter was re-litigated by the defendants before another Federal High Court presided over by Justice Buba who ruled in favour of  Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese, Yakubu Mohammed and others.
Ibrahim appealed against the judgement.

In a unanimous decision, the Appeal Court declared that the trial judge ought to have respected the judgment of his learned brother of co-ordinate jurisdiction.
Justice Abimbola Obaseki-Adejumo  said:  “ipso facto, l  agree with the reasoning expressed in the lead judgement that where a judgement has been delivered by a court, same cannot be subject to review by another court of co-ordinate jurisdiction”
An elated Ibrahim yesterday said the judgment had now settled the issue the ownership of Newswatch.

He said: “It’s now beyond contest that  the ownership validly rests on me.”
In his reaction to the judgment, Ibrahim commended the appeal court and said “he lost no sleep on the ownership of the company for a day.”

He said the judgement has resolved what he called “the noisy convergence of complexities” arising from the sale and acquisition of Newswatch..
“Nigerians now know the truth,” he said, adding that “the magazine will soon return to newsstands.”
He dedicated the judgement to the staff of Newswatch, vendors, readers and advertisers who are the victims of the denial of payment of N510million.