For telecommunications outfit, 9mobile, there seems yo be no respite. It has been from one major headache to another.
Four months after take over by Teleology Limited, controversies surrounding the sale of 9mobile may be far from over as an Abuja High Court nullified all actions taken on the company from April 25, 2018. The trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako, in a ruling on Monday, voided all steps taken in relation to the exchange of ownership of Etisalat (9mobile) despite pending orders for maintenance of status quo, restraining parties to a suit, involving investors and other stakeholders in the company, from destroying the res (subject matter). The court further noted that parties were all aware of the existence of the suit and the defendants, having been served between April 24 and 27, 2018 with the originating process. The court, however, faulted the sale, as claimed by the plaintiffs in a motion filed on November 16, 2018.
“Any action that has been taken concerning the res of this litigation from the 25th day of April, which is earlier in time, should revert to the position, as of the res, to its 25th day of April 2018,” she held. The ruling of the court was premised on a suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/ CS/288/2018 filed on April 6, 2018 by two major investors in Etisalat – Afdin Ventures Limited and Dirbia Nigeria Limited. Afdin and Dirbia, whose investments in Etisalat is estimated at $43,033,950, had sued to retrieve their investments on the grounds that they were aggrieved, having been excluded from the decision making process of the company. Cited as defendants in the suit are Karington Telecommunication Ltd., Premium Telecommunications Holdings NV, First Bank of Nigeria Plc., Central Bank of Nigeria, Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd., and Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC).
“In 2009, the plaintiffs/ applicants purchased a total of 4,303,391 class “A” shares from the 1st, 2nd and 5th defendants (Karlingtton, Premium Telecommunication and Etisalat International) at the rate of $43,033,950 only, and were issued with share certificates,” the plaintiffs stated. However, reacting to the ruling, the management of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd. (EMTS) trading as 9mobile, said the judgement could not be taken as nullification of its sale. “The Federal High Court, Abuja did not nullify the sale of EMTS; the court, on 1st April 2019 made an order for parties to maintain status quo as at April 25, 2018. As at the said date, EMTS (9mobile) was not a party to the suit before the court.
The action before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court is not about the sale of EMTS (9mobile), but rather, the transfer of the license even without locus standi,” the company said in a statement. 9mobile noted that it had appealed the order and also sought an injunction pending appeal at the Court of Appeal. Restating the position of the telco, Company Secretary/ Legal Adviser, 9mobile, Ore Olajide, said: “The sale of 9mobile to Teleology Nigeria Limited has not been nullified. The court made an order to maintain status quo as at April 25, 2018 when EMTS was not a party to the suit and we have appealed the ruling as well as sought an injunction pending appeal at the Court of Appeal”.