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$43m Debt: Court Warns Against Concluding 9mobile Sale

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Justice Binta Murtala- Nyako of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has warned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Telecommunication Commission (NCC) and others involved in the transaction for the sale of telecom firm, Etisalat (9mobile) against taking further steps to conclude the sale.

The warning came following the claim by some aggrieved investors that despite a subsisting order of the court, made on October 10, 2018, barring parties to the transaction from taking further steps pending the determination of the suit.

The CBN, First Bank and others have allegedly sold the firm and transferred its ownership.

The warning by the court is contained in a Form 48 issued by the court’s Registrar, on institutions listed as defendants in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/288/2018 filed by the aggrieved shareholders, through Afdin Ventures Ltd and Dirbia Nigeria Limited.

The Form 48 reads: “Take notice that unless you obey the directions contained in the order of the Federal High Court number three, Abuja, made on the 10th of October 2018 ordering parties to maintain status quo, with regard to the sale of Etisalat Nigeria Limited (rebranded 9mobile), you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison.”

The affected defendants are Karington Telecommunications Ltd, Premium Telecommunications Holding NV, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Central Bank of Nigeria, Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd (trading under the name and style of 9mobile) and the Nigerian Communication Commission.

The aggrieved subscribers, who claimed to be major investors in Etisalat, said they were excluded from the firm’s decision making and therefore want a refund of their investment estimated at $43,330,950.

Afdin and Dirbia, in newly filed court documents, alleged that the defendants have not only sold the company, despite the existing restraining order, they have effected a transfer of ownership to a new set of buyers. They exhibited newspaper publications, indicating that the defendants have allegedly proceeded with the sale in breach of the pending court order.

The aggrieved shareholders, in a pre-action notice issued by their lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), are threatening to institute fresh suits against the CBN, NCC and First Bank in an effort to retrieve their investment and accrued interest.

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