Monday, 16 July 2018


Supreme Court judges during a court session

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has dismissed all appeals filed by Ecobank Nigeria Plc in the ongoing dispute between the bank and Honeywell Group.

In a unanimous decision by the learned judges on Friday, the court ruled that Ecobank’s applications lacked merit.

Delivering judgment, the justices of the apex court reprimanded Ecobank’s lawyers for wasting the Court’s time by filing appeals which it described as frivolous, particularly in the light of the myriad of critical matters before the court.

The Supreme Court also warned Ecobank’s lawyers against filing such applications in future and awarded costs totaling N2,500,000 against Ecobank.

Before the Supreme Court ruling, Ecobank Nigeria Plc had previously suffered defeat in its dispute with Honeywell Group at the Court of Appeal when the appellate court also ruled against it.

In a unanimous decision delivered by the Court of Appeal on 30 March, 2016, the appellate court discharged the exparte injunctive/asset freezing orders obtained by Ecobank against Honeywell.

The Court of Appeal also affirmed the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Lagos to hear the suit filed by Honeywell against Ecobank whilst ordering accelerated hearing by the trial court.

It was these decisions by the Court of Appeal that Ecobank challenged at the Supreme Court.

But in its ruling on Friday, the Supreme Court held that Ecobank’s appeals were frivolous and they were dismissed.

Source: PM News



The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) has ordered two companies owned by the Chief Executive Officer of Oando Plc, Mr. Wale Tinubu and his deputy, Mr. Mofe Boyo, to pay US$680 million (N244.8 billion) to Ansbury Investments. Ansbury is owned by Mr. Gabriele Volpi.

In a July 6 ruling, the LCIA held that Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP), British Virgin Islands, which owns 55.96 per cent of Oando Plc through a holding company, Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP) Nigeria Limited, is owing Ansbury Investments Incorporated US$600 million (N216 billion).

Ansbury Investment counsel Mr. Andrea Moja confirmed the LCIA award in a statement yesterday.

Moja said the Arbitration Court also held that Whitmore Asset Management Limited, whose ultimate beneficial owners are Tinubu and Boyo, was also owing Ansbury Investment US$80 million (N28.8 billion). The cumulative   debt owed by the Oando chiefs to Ansbury Investment totals US$680 million.

Documents obtained from the LCIA, which is reputed to be one of the world’s leading international institutions for commercial dispute resolution, identified the family of Volpi, a Nigerian-Italian, as the ultimate beneficial owner of Ansbury.

The London Arbitration Court ruled that the “Third Shareholders Agreement” between the parties, is legally binding on the parties as claimed by Ansbury Investment.

The documents indicated that in a few days, the court will pronounce on accrued interests on the debts.

It was learnt that the ruling was communicated to the parties on July 9.

The statement said: “The claim of Whitmore Asset Management Limited that the parties agreed to a binding Fourth Shareholders Agreement was rejected.

“The alleged agreement by which Whitmore Asset Management Limited was to hold 60 per cent Of Ocean and Oil Development Partners (BVI) Ltd is not binding on the parties.

“Ocean and Oil Development Partners (Bvi) Ltd owes a debt to Ansbury Investments Inc for an amount of US$ 600 million.

“Whitmore Asset Management Limited owes a debt to Ansbury Investments Inc for an amount of US$ 80 million.

“This Partial Award will be followed by a Final Award in which the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) will pronounce on interests on the amounts owed and legal expenses.

“Given the above, Ansbury Investments Inc will immediately submit an application to London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) in which it will be asked to charge Whitmore Asset Management Limited for all the due interests and legal expenses as well.”

When the disagreement broke in 2017, Ansbury had also petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in May over allegation of financial mismanagement, huge indebtedness as well as falsifying its financial statement.

In addition, Ansbury had also informed SEC that Oando’s “current liabilities as at December 31, 2016, far exceeds the current assets by N263.7 billion, confirming serious financial imbalance from the previous financial year”.

However, Lawyers representing Tinubu and Boyo the Group Chief Executive and Deputy Group Chief Executive of Oando PLC and co-owners of Whitmore Asset Management Limited, said contrary to the claim by Ansbury Investment Counsel,  Mr. Andrea Moja, the amount owed to Ansbury Investments Inc, owned by Mr. Gabriele Volpi, is $80m, which is owed by Whitmore Asset Management Limited, while the balance of $600m is owed by Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP) BVI.

Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP) BVI Ltd, is owned by all three parties Wale Tinubu, Mofe Boyo and Gabriele Volpi, hence the judgment by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) implies that Volpi as part owner of OODP BVI owes himself by virtue of his ownership in the company.

It was learnt that had indicated that payment terms for the personal debt were being ironed out by the parties while payment terms for the $600 million owed by OODP will be determined by the LCIA.

The dispute between Gabrielle Volpi and the principals of Oando has been ongoing for over a year. It has caused concern for companies and individuals who look for investments to grow their business via individuals in the form of equity or debt.

Volpi, a significant shareholder in OODP invested in the company during Oando’s acquisition of ConocoPhillips Nigeria assets.  At the time, it would have seem like the investment of a lifetime, unfortunately, shortly after the price of oil crashed, many oil and gas companies folded up.

It was the resilience of its principals hat Oando is still alive today, industry sources said.

The assumption would be that against this backdrop Gabrielle Volpi would wait for OODP to start to reap the rewards of its investment however he has faced near financial ruin in his home country Italy and it seems is now by any means necessary trying to recoup his investments.

Since the upturn in commodity prices, Oando has recorded six consecutive quarters of profits.

The company kicked off 2018 on a positive note through continued restoration of value to its shareholders via profits in the first quarter of the year.

Credit: The Nation

Wednesday, 20 June 2018


The death of Justice Timothy Oboh of the Auchi Criminal Division, Edo, on Tuesday, stalled trial in the N250 million libel case by Edo Governor’s aide, Taiwo Akerele, against The Guardian newspaper.

At the resumed hearing in Benin, the matter could not be heard following the death of the judge.

The court’s registrar, who announced that the matter had been adjourned till Sept. 26, added that the court would not be sitting because “judges are mourning the death of a brother judge.”

Akerele, Chief of Staff to Gov. Obaseki, had instituted a libel suit against The Guardian over a story it published titled, “Probe of alleged diversion of relief materials begins in Edo.”

In the suit, filed by his counsel and twin brother, Kehinde Akerele, the plaintiff sought “general and/or exemplary or aggravated damages for libel.”

He prayed the court to order the newspaper to pay him N250 million as general and/or exemplary or aggravated damages for libel and another N2.5 million as costs.

Akerele further asked the court to compel The Guardian to publish a “well-worded retraction and apology in a similarly conspicuous manner, which must also be published in another newspaper.”

The newspaper had reported that 4,781 of the 6,822 bags of rice meant for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)’ camp at Uhogua, Ovia North-East Local Government Area of the state, was missing.

The state Chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, had accused the state government of diverting the items, insisting that it must account for the where-about of the said missing relief materials.

The police subsequently invited Orbih for questioning over the reported rice scandal.

The state government, however, denied the allegation and maintained that the rice was judiciously disbursed.

It claimed that all the rice and other items, including shoes, were distributed to the IDPs and other orphanage homes in the state, aside the ones that were damaged in the warehouse.

Source: Pm News

Monday, 18 June 2018


journalist

Campus Journalists drawn from universities across the country under the auspices of “Free Campus Press Movement” have condemned the suspension of Kunle Adebajo, an award-winning campus journalist and  Law student of University of Ibadan who’s expected to proceed to law school this year.

In a statement, the group faulted the two-semester suspension of Adebajo, by the University management under the Leadership of Professor Idowu Olayinka.

Full text of the press statement reads: “While we are not contesting the powers of the University to discipline Students, we are very much concerned that the institution management found it very convenient to suspend Kunle Adebajo for his investigative feature titled “UI: The Irony of Fashionable Rooftops and Awful Interiors” published on Guardian newspapers in 2016.”

“Not only do we find this strange in the current dispensation of modern terms and in the post-colonial era, we also find it strange that the University failed to observe that this intellectual work did not in anyway abuse or defame any personality nor institution but rather aimed to improve the standard of the University.

“We are deeply disappointed that a University of prestige and calibre like University of Ibadan will fail to observe that ethics of Journalism requires objectivity, we feel the objectivity of Kunle Adebajo was seen as subjectivity by the University management which is appalling”

While stressing the importance of freedom of the press, the release noted that, “in the current age where Press Freedom is being preached, we find it very disheartening that University of Ibadan decided to be the premier varsity in suspending campus Journalists”.

“We would not fold our arms, we call on all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the University management to rescind the suspension of Mr Adebajo,” it added.

Source: THE NATION

Sunday, 17 June 2018


Prison

Paul Iyoghojie

A 42-year old businessman, John Evwiekpamare, alias Governor, has been arrested and arraigned before a Lagos Magistrate Court for allegedly obtaining the sum of N10 million from his partner, Samuel Udoh under false pretence.

A Police source alleged that the Assistant Inspector General of police, AIG in charge of Zone 2 Command, Lagos, Mr Haruna Ibrahim directed a team led by Inspector Idowu Kolawole to arrest the accused following a petition by Udoh.

Governor was charged before an Igbosere Magistrate Court on a three-count charge of felony to wit, obtaining money under false pretence and stealing.

Police counsel, S. Molo informed the court in charge No L/40/2018 that the accused committed the alleged crime on 17 January, 2016 at 22, Oremeta Street,Oregun, Lagos.

Molo told the court that the complainant reported to the police that the accused, his business partner collected the sum of N10 million from him to invest in a business with a promise to refund the money to him at an agreed time, but that he was shocked the accused converted the money to his use and failed to refund the money till date.

According to Molo, the complainant decided to report the matter to the police when all his efforts to recover the money from the accused proved futile.

He added that the offences the accused committed were punishable under sections 314, (1)(a)(2)(3), 287 and 321(b) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015.

Governor, however, pleaded not guilty to the alleged offence and Magistrate M.O Okpe Agbe granted him bail in the sum of N5 million with two sureties in like sum.

Okpe Agbe adjourned the case till 27 June, 2018 for mention and ordered that the defendant be kept at the Ikoyi Prison, Lagos till he fulfilled the bail conditions.


Paul Iyoghojie

The management of Wema Bank headquarters, Marina, Lagos Island, Lagos has dragged a 35-year old man, Joseph Olugbenga who claimed to be a staff of the bank before a Lagos Magistrate Court for alleged impersonation.

Trouble started for the accused when he went to the Ilaje -Ajah branch of Wema Bank to introduce himself to the Staff that he was a staff of the bank at the headquarters and that he was deployed from the headquarters to the branch to audit the tellers department.

Police alleged that when the staff of the branch asked him to produce his identity card to buttress his claim, he could not produce any and the head of security at the bank, Mr Olamiji Kazeem sent a distress call to the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Lion Building Division about the incident and he deployed a team led by Sgt. Gboyega Oyeniyi to the bank to arrest the accused.

During investigation, according to a police source, the accused allegedly confessed that he was not a staff of Wema Bank, adding that he allegedly impersonated the bank to put fear in the mind of the staff of the bank if they would bribe him not to audit the teller department, saying he never expected that the staff would ask for his Identity card.

The accused was charged before the Igbosere Magistrate Court on a one count charge of felony to wit, impersonation.

Police Counsel, Reuben Solomon told the court in charge No M/16/2018 that the offence the accused committed was punishable under section 78(b) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015.

The accused pleaded not guilty to the alleged crime.and was granted bail by Magistrate Davies in the sum of N250,000 with two sureties in like sum.

Davies adjourned the case till 3 July, 2018 for mention and ordered that the defendant be kept at the Ikoyi Prison till he perfected the bail conditions.

Friday, 15 June 2018



Click to read FULL article.
ABSTRACT
It is trite law that jurisdiction is fundamental to adjudication on any matter before the Court. Where the Court lacks jurisdiction, the proceedings and the judgment of the Court no matter how well conducted and brilliant it may be is a nullity.  Section 251 (1)(G) of 1999 Constitution (as amended) has clothed  the Federal High Court with exclusive jurisdiction in matters relating to admiralty. Further to this, section 1 (1) (a) – (j) of Admiralty Jurisdiction Act exemplify the jurisdictional power of federal high court in admiralty matters to the exclusion of any other court. This paper is guided by a litmus question; despite the above provisions of law, can there be a situation in which there will be departure from the exclusive jurisdiction of Federal High Court?  This paper attempts to answer this question in favor of National Industrial Court. It is our submission that National Industrial Court as well can determine some matters related to admiralty jurisdiction. We further submit that it is high time the provisions of Admiralty Jurisdiction Act be amended.


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