Court Restrains SEC from Enforcing N89m Fine against Oando

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Davidson Iriekpen

Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court in Lagos has restrained the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from enforcing a fine of N89,675,000 against Oando Plc.

The judge also restrained the commission from enforcing its decision to appoint an interim management team for Oando.

He granted Oando’s application for leave to file a motion for a judicial review of SEC’s decision imposing the fine on it.

The judge’s orders which were issued on Friday, followed an ex-parte motion filed by Oando through its counsel Mr. Olasupo Shasore (SAN).

SEC, its Acting Director-General Ms. Mary Uduk, and Mutiu Sunmonu, who was appointed as Oando’s interim head, are the first to third respondents.

Justice Faji granted “an order of certiorari bringing up to the Federal High Court for the purpose of being quashed, the decision of the first respondent (SEC) contained in its letter dated May 31, 2019”.

An order of certiorari is a writ or order by which a higher court reviews a case tried in a lower court or administrative agency.

The court also granted an order of certiorari for the quashing of SEC’s directive to Oando to convene an extra-ordinary general meeting on or before July 1 to appoint new directors and articulate remedial measures for alleged corporate governance lapses.

Justice Faji further granted an order certiorari for the quashing of a press release by SEC on June 1 appointing an interim management team to be headed by Sunmonu (the third respondent) to oversee Oando’s affairs.

The judge granted “an order of prohibition and/or an injunction restraining and preventing the first and second respondents by themselves, agents, servants or whomsoever, howsoever from enforcing or seeking to enforce the decision contained in the letter dated 31 May 2019.”

Justice Faji gave “an order of prohibition and/or an injunction restraining and preventing the second respondent (SEC) from enforcing or seeking to enforce the decision of the first respondent contained in the press release made on Sunday, June 2, 2019 appointing an interim management team to be headed by the third respondent to oversee the affairs of the applicant.”

The court made “a declaration that the first and second respondents acted ultra vires and without jurisdiction in making the decision contained in the letter of May 31, 2019 which conveyed the imposition of a fine of N89,675,000 on the applicant…”

Also granted was “an order directing that the leave sought herein, if granted, shall operate as a suspension and or stay of the decision of the first respondent contained aforesaid in its letter of 31 May 2019 as it relates to the applicant and as contained in the press release made on 2 June 2019 appointing an interim management team to be headed by the third respondent.”

Justice Faji directed Oando to ensure service on the respondents of the order and the application for judicial review within 48 hours.

He adjourned until July 22 for hearing of the application for judicial review before the vacation judge.

The same judge had last month granted the Group Chief Executive Officer of Oando, Mr. Wale Tinubu and his deputy, Mr. Omamofe Boyo, leave to file a motion for a judicial review of the sanctions SEC imposed on them.

This was after their counsel approached the court for an order to review their ban from being directors of public companies for five years and the additional imposition of N91,125,000 on Tinubu.

SEC had on May 31 announced the conclusion of an investigation of Oando and ordered its Group Chief Executive Officer, Tinubu, his deputy, Boyo and other affected board members to resign.

It barred Tinubu and Boyo from being directors of public companies for a period of five years.

SEC subsequently set up an interim management team headed by Sunmonu to oversee Oando’s affairs and to conduct an extraordinary general meeting on or before July 1.

In an ex-parte application filed through their counsel, Olasupo Shasore (SAN), Tinubu and Ojo prayed for an order of certiorari to quash SEC’s purported imposition of N91,125,000 fine on Tinubu.

The application was granted.

Oando subsequently filed the latest application seeking for judicial review of the SEC decisions against it with a view to quashing them, along with the injunctive reliefs, which Justice Faji granted