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Court voids SEC’s sanctions on Oando, reinstates sacked directors, others

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A federal High Court sitting in Kano State, yesterday, declared that the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) acted arbitrarily when it sacked directors and shareholders of Oando Plc. for alleged infraction.

Subsequently, it awarded N250,000 as damages against SEC and insisted that the replacement of the sacked shareholders and directors on the board of Oando remained a nullity.

Delivering judgment in a suit instituted by Yakubu Gumel, one of the sacked shareholders, Justice Lewis Allagoa granted all reliefs sought by the applicant, effectively restraining SEC and its agents from meddling into the affairs of Oando.

Allagoa, who submitted that matters bordering on companies and allied industry should have been handled and resolved by the Investments and Security Exchange Tribunal, however, maintained that SEC, which was entrusted with statutory enablement to dabble into capital market affairs, erred by meddling in the matter.

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The presiding judge, who dismissed the preliminary objection of SEC against the shareholders, also declared that the respondent failed to show the forensic evidence on the infraction on Oando’s finances.

Counsel to the applicant, Dapo Ajagbe, expressed satisfaction in the judgment, stressing that justice had finally prevailed. His words: “Our clients, sometime in 2019, were arbitrarily sacked by SEC on the board of Oando while preparing for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the basis that there were petitions against. They also alleged that there was forensic evidence indicating infraction on Oando’s financial statement. Incidentally, SEC has failed to show the petition before the court and the forensic evidence was nowhere to be found.

“So, they filed the matter before the court demanding that the sack was wrongfully carried out, that SEC has exercised excessive powers in the affairs of Oando, that SEC did not have credible evidence to prove its claims against the shareholders. The court, in its wisdom, granted all our reliefs and dismissed the argument of SEC.”

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The applicant had earlier demanded N500,000 against the respondent for unnecessarily wasting his time. But the judge granted N250,000 against SEC, after counsel to SEC, Abdullahi Ghazali, refused to concede to the cost.

Ghazali told journalists that his client would study the judgment and determine the next line of action. Exactly a month ago, a High Court in Abuja had ruled in favour of another Oando shareholder, Patrick Ajudua, who filed a suit against SEC for breach of his rights as a shareholder.

The court ruled in his favour and ordered Oando to hold its AGM within 90 days of the ruling. Plethora of court cases against the SEC has been necessitated by the frustrations of shareholders.

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