Court quashes CBN-led Etisalat’s interim board

Etisalat


• Spectrum Wireless issues ‘caveat emptor’ on firm

A Federal High Court, Lagos has nullified the appointment of an interim board for Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service (EMTS), the fourth largest telecommunications service operator in Nigeria and owners of Etisalat.Justice Ibrahim Buba made the order at the weekend based on an application by Spectrum Wireless Communication Ltd, which invested $35million in EMTS/Etisalat in 2009.

“An order is hereby granted discharging the ex-parte order made by this court in this suit in favour of the respondent on the 3rd day of July 2017.
“The order made pursuant to motion ex-parte dated 3rd day of July 2017 was a nullity, made without jurisdiction and obtained by misrepresentation of facts. Same be and is hereby discharged and vacated as prayed.

“The motion for stay is struck out having set aside the order. The respondent shall reverse all steps taken by it since the order was a nullity,”‎ the ruled.The order nullified the appointment of Dr. Joseph Nnana of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as chairman, Mr. Boye Olusanya as managing director, Mrs. Funke Ighodaro as chief financial officer, Mr. Seyi Bickersthet and Mr. Ken Igbokwe as members of the board of EMTS.

The nullification followed dismissal by Justice Buba of the preliminary objection filed by United Capital Trustees Ltd in response to the application by Spectrum Wireless, a shareholder of EMTS.Spectrum Wireless claimed that the order was obtained by misrepresentation of facts that alienated its interests in the company.

The interim board of EMTS, which had the support of the CBN and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), had received bids from about five bidders in its intended sale of the company.The sale was to be concluded by last December 31, but was recently moved to January 16.

The solicitors to Spectrum Wireless, J.A. Achimogu and Co and Dr. Reuben Atabo and Co, warned that any institution or company that transacted business for the purpose of sale or acquisition of EMTS or 9Mobile did so at his or her own risk.

Atabo told newsmen that its client, Spectrum Wireless Communications, and three others invested about $100 million in Etisalat in 2009 which the firm used to expand its infrastructure base, “and as we talk, no ROI has come to any one of us.”

He alleged that the protracted $1.2 billion syndicated loan facilitated by United Capital for Etisalat was shrouded in secrecy and that some investors were not regarded in the entire process.

“When the problem arose, most of the directors abandoned the telecommunications firm because they never put in their monies. It got to the extent that no audited account was prepared. Everything around the loan and Etisalat was shrouded in secrecy. Now, they are bringing in new cronies to get 9Mobile again. Etisalat Nigeria’s board should be seriously investigated,” he stated.

On whether Spectrum Wireless intimated the NCC on the matter, Atabo said: “We wrote several letters to the commission on the matter, but they claimed they were investigating and nothing has come out from the investigation before all these now came to the fore last Friday.”

According to him, Spectrum Wireless wants its money back. “It was not only the banks that invested in Etisalat. Our investment should be adequately recognised. No kobo has been returned to Spectrum Wireless since 2009.”

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