Court punctures AMCON’s take-over of Multi-Trex Integrated company

A judge's gavel rests on top of a desk inside a courtroom. (AFP/Joe Raedle)

A judge’s gavel rests on top of a desk inside a courtroom. (AFP/Joe Raedle)

A Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State, has struck out a suit empowering the Asset management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to take over an agro-related company, Multi-Trex Integrated Foods Plc.

Justice A.T. Mohammed at the weekend after hearing a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Deacon Dele Adesina with Ademola Adesina for Multi-Trex and Mr. Olatunde Adejuyigbe, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, acting for AMCON ordered that the originating summons on which the take over bid stood be struck.
  The order, which is a relief to the foods’ company, came exactly one year ago AMCON acting through its solicitor, Mr. Tosin Shaba, had obtained far reaching exparte orders from the same court, which led to the appointment of Shaba as the receiver-manager.

Having rejected the orders, which Multi-Trex claimed to have been procured behind it, the company went ahead to challenge the actions.Consequently, Justice Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abeokuta, threw out the originating summons on the basis of which Multitrex’s factory had been seized and its workers chased out.

The court in its view had said the action that led to the take over of the company was an abuse of court process and amounted to ‘forum shopping’ by AMCON.
According to Adesina, on the strength of the recent order, Multitrex will immediately take over possession of its factory premises and reopen for business.
“To all our teeming customers, contractors and other business associates, we assure you that we are committed to honouring our contracts and other lawful obligations as we used to do prior to the unfortunate challenge with the wrongful closure of our factory”, the company had said.

Prior to the ruling, Messrs. Tosin Shaba, a counsel to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) in the receivership dispute, had said AMCON had appointed him as the authentic receiver-manager of the company.

In a public notice, Shaba said: “In the exercise of the powers vested in me, I have been in possession of the company’s factory situate at Warewa along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway since June 2015.

“By the operation of law, on the receiver can act for and on behalf of the company in respect of its properties, chattels, funds and choses in action.”
Shaba, therefore, maintained that the directors, officers and employers of Multi-Trex Integrated Foods Plc have no right or authority to enter into any transaction for and on behalf of the company or deal with any of the company’s properties, chattels or funds wherever they are situated or kept.

But in quick response, counsel to the agricultural firm, Mr. Ademola Adesina, debunked Shaba’s claim, urging the public to disregard Shaba’s assertions, saying there is a pending matter before a Federal High Court, Abeokuta, Ogun State concerning the receivership of the company.

“In the circumstance, our clients urge the general public, particularly, the banks, financial institutions and all other persons having contractual relationship with Multi-Trex to completely and totally disregard the public notice… by Tosin Shaba.”

According to Adesina, Shaba, who is holding himself out as receiver appointed by AMCON in respect of Multi-Trex, instituted a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos and obtained several far-reaching ex-parte orders against the company.

Following the suit, Multi-Trex challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit on several cogent grounds including but not limited to the plaintiff’s non-compliance with the extant provisions of the AMCON of Nigeria Act 2010, as amended in 2015.

“These jurisdictional objections duly argued and ruling adjourned.  However, during the pendency of the suit, the said Tosin Shaba went ahead and got himself appointed as a receiver of Multi-Trex by AMCON…, in complete and utter disregard for the age-long principle of lis pendis, which prohibits parties who have submitted their dispute to the court for determination, from employing self-help, interfering with and/or taking any steps during the pendency of that action.”

Adesina added that instead for AMCON’s counsel to wait for the ruling of the court on the objections over jurisdiction, Shaba under the guise of his appointment as receiver of the company, filed a notice of discontinuance at a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court and on the same date filed another suit, this time at the Federal High Court, Abeokuta Judicial Division.

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