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Court quashes suit on 9Mobile’s sale

By Joseph Onyekwere
18 April 2019   |   4:17 am
A Federal High Court, Lagos presided over by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke yesterday dismissed a suit filed by Spectrum Wireless Communications...

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A Federal High Court, Lagos presided over by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke yesterday dismissed a suit filed by Spectrum Wireless Communications Limited against Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), owners of 9Mobile, challenging its sale.

Ruling on the preliminary objections filed by counsel to EMTS, Justice Aneke upheld the defendant’s prayers in suit No. FHC/L/CS/153/2018 that there was no direct shareholding relationship between Spectrum Wireless and EMTS, which vested the right to sue EMTS on Spectrum to protect its alleged shareholding in EMTS.

The court also upheld the defendant’s position that there was no knowledge of contract between EMTS and Spectrum, as the latter was not a shareholder in EMTS and could not be said to have been directly affected by the actions of its shareholders–Mubadala Holdings Cyprus Limited, Myacynth and Etisalat International Nigeria Limited.

Justice Aneke also upheld the defendant’s position that if at all Spectrum had a right of action, such action should be against PTHNV, which it originally invested in and not EMTS.

He, therefore, upheld the submission of counsel to EMTS that as a non-shareholder of EMTS, Spectrum lacked the locus standi to sue EMTS on the basis of any decision reached by its shareholders.

The court upheld the defendant’s prayers that Spectrum lacked the right to sue, adding that the concept of ‘indirect shareholding and economic interest’ it claimed was unknown to Nigerian law, which only recognises members of a company, as those named in its members’ register.

It also held that Spectrum was not a party to the credit facilities, which it claimed were unlawfully obtained; and it is elementary law that only parties to a contract could make judicial claims in respect thereof.

After a careful review of the submissions, the court, therefore, dismissed the suit in its entirety.

Spectrum Wireless Communications had sued EMTS and 16 other defendants including United Capital Trustees Limited (the Lenders), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the sale of the telecoms firm.

The company had claimed that it acquired 30 per cent indirect shareholding of EMTS after a private placement and was allotted 4,041,096 Class A shares of Premium Telecommunications Holdings NV (PTHNV), which holds 99 per cent of the shares in MyaCynth Cooperative UA (MyaCynth).