OANDO is set to contest the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja declining jurisdiction to hear suits brought by Oando PLC and its directors against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The company in a statement on Friday, said it was of the opinion that the judgment was misconceived and as such had appealed the decision on the grounds that the powers conferred by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on its citizens to enforce their fundamental rights supersedes the provisions of the Investment and Securities Act 2007.
Furthermore, Oando and its directors had filed applications for stay of execution as well as an injunction pending appeal in respect of the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja in relation to SEC’s May 31, 2019 letter to the Company.
Earlier on Thursday, February 25, 2021 in a ruling presided over by Justice Giwa Ogunbanjo at the Federal High Court, Abuja, the judge declined jurisdiction to hear suits brought by Oando PLC and its directors against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The judge stated that the Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST) would be the appropriate forum to hear the matter.
The basis for the Court’s decision is Section 36(2) of the Constitution which allows aggrieved individuals to first approach any tribunal or administrative agency to determine civil rights and obligations as long as that process and the resulting decision is not final. The Court also reiterated that the IST has primary jurisdiction over Oando and its directors in respect of capital market issues and not the Federal High Court.
It would be recalled that In July 2017 it came to public attention that the SEC was investigating Oando PLC; a long drawn-out investigation followed, culminating in the May 31, 2019 letter from SEC to Oando finding them guilty of a number of infractions and imposing stiff sanctions.
In response Oando and some of its directors, filed suits against the regulator for not following due process and a breach of their human rights to fair hearing. In addition to filing suits against the regulator, Oando took out and was granted by the Federal High Court of Lagos an injunction restraining the SEC from executing any of the sanctions in its May 31, 2019 letter.
The company and its affected directors argue that the powers conferred by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on its citizens to enforce their fundamental rights supersedes the provisions of the Investment and Securities Act 2007.
The case between the SEC and Oando PLC has culminated to shareholders opposing each other over the years. Last month, various factions of Oando’s shareholders filed a case against the SEC in the persons of Alhaji Yakubu Gumel; Alhaji Kabiru Tambari, suing for himself and on behalf of the Sokoto Zone Shareholders Association; Tunde Badmus, suing for himself and for the benefits of Pacesetters Shareholders Association, at the Federal High Court Kano.
The shareholders filed for an interim order restraining SEC its agents or representatives from acting on its May 31, 2019 letter sanctioning the management of Oando. The orders were granted on Friday, February 19, 2021 and present in court were lawyers for both SEC and the shareholders. The order restrains the SEC, its agents or anyone acting on behalf of the commission from disturbing or meddling with the affairs, management and activities of Oando PLC.
It also restrains the SEC’s purported interim management from meddling in the administration and activities of the company as well as an order restraining SEC from interfering with the shareholder’s exercise and performance of their statutory powers and duties as shareholders.
The court hearing between the SEC and aggrieved shareholders in Kano has been adjourned to March 17, where it is hoped a favorable ruling will be delivered by the court.
On Tuesday, February 23, 2021 there was a court ruling in favor of an Oando shareholder Engr. Patrick Ajidua. He had challenged the regulator in a suit filed at the High Court of the FCT. He had challenged the SECs right to prevent the convening of an Annual General Meeting as a breach of his right to freedom of association.
In a hearing presided by Honorable Justice O. A Musa, all cases filed were granted in favor of Engr. Patrick. In summary the judge declared that the May 31, 2019 letter of SEC to Oando sanctioning its management, as unconstitutional, null and void and violation of Engr. Patrick’s fundamental right to fair hearing and his human right to receive information on the affairs of Oando and his interest and shares in Oando and more importantly instituted that within 90 days of the ruling Oando must convene an AGM for her shareholders.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) however denied the claim by Patrick Ajudua, that he won a court case against the capital market apex regulator.
SEC disclosed in a statement it issued on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 that there was never a time it was served with court processes with respect to the purported matter at the FCT High court.
“The attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission has been drawn to several publications in the media, where it is reported that a shareholder of Oando PLC, purportedly obtained a judgment from the Federal Capital Territory High Court against the Commission. The Commission wishes to inform the general public that it was never at any time served with court processes with respect to the purported matter at the FCT High court. The Commission will consequently take all necessary steps to verify and set aside the purported decision of the said Court.” SEC said in the statement.
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