There are more challenges ahead of Teleology Holdings in its bid to take ownership of 9mobile.
This is because a Federal High Court in Abuja which set aside the sale of the telecommunication firm.
Justice Binta Nyako gave a ruling voiding all the processes that led to the sale of the company to Teleology Holdings.
9mobile is Nigeria’s fourth-largest mobile carrier that was rebranded from Etisalat Nigeria after the defunct company could not pay its Nigerian lenders in 2017.
The judge ruled that: “Any action that has been taken concerning the res of this litigation from the 25th day of April, which is earlier in time, should revert to the position, as of the res, to 25th day of April 2018.”
The defendant in case are Karington Telecommunication Ltd, Premium Telecommunications Holdings NV, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Central Bank of Nigeria, Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd and Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) while Afdin Ventures Limited and Dirbia Nigeria Limited are are the plaintiffs.
Afdin and Dirbia who claimed their investments in 9mobile (Etisalat) was estimated at $43 million claiming they were excluded from the sale of the company.
The plaintiffs said in an affidavit to the motion dated November 16, 2018, that: “In 2009, the plaintiffs/applicants purchased a total of 4,303,391 class “A” shares from the 1st, 2nd and 5th defendants (Karlingtton, Premium Telecommunication and Etisalat International) at the rate of $43, 033,950 only, and were issued with share certificates.
“In 2010, the defendants rebranded Etisalat Nigeria Limited to 9mobile and entered into negotiations with Smile.com and Glo Network to transfer its licence without recourse to the plaintiffs.
“When the plaintiffs became aware of the purported transaction, they filed this suit along with two applications namely: motion ex-parte and motion on notice, seeking for an order of injunction to restrain the defendants from going ahead with the transaction.
“When this suit came up for hearing on the 17th of April, 2018, this honourable court ordered parties to maintain status quo-pending the determination of the motion on notice.
“Notwithstanding the aforementioned order, the defendants continued negotiations with Smile.com and Glo Network in defiance to the subsisting order of this court.
“When the plaintiffs/applicants discovered that the defendants were bent on selling Etisalat Nigeria Limited “rebranded 9moile” despite the subsisting order of court, they instructed their Counsel Mahmud A. Magaii (SAN) to write and caution the defendants of the implications of their actions.
“Upon receipt of the above letters, the 3rd and 4rd respondents (First Bank and Central Bank), through their counsel Olaniwun Aiayi wrote to the applicants, through their counsel on the 24th August, 2018 and 31th August, 2018, denying the existing of the order of status quo made by this honourable court on the 17th April, 2018 and 31th August, 2018.
“When this matter come up on the 10th of October, 2018, counsel to the plaintiff Okechukwu Edeze, informed the court of the attempts mode by the defendants to sell Etisalat Nigeria Limited.
“Consequently, this honourable court made another order of status quo, directing parties to refrain from tampering with the subject matter of the suit.
“Despite the orders of this honourable court made on the 10th of October, 2018, the defendants went ahead and sold Etisalat Nigeria limited, rebranded 9moible to Teleology Nigeria Limited with impunity.
“It will be in the interest of justice to set aside the sale of Etisalat Nigeria limited rebranded 9moible to Teleology Nigeria Limited and commit the defendants to prison for disobeying the lawful orders of the court.”
In disagreement with the reported ruling, 9mobile said in an email statement that:
“The Federal High Court, Abuja did not nullify the sale of EMTS; the court on 1st April 2019 made an order for parties to maintain status quo as at April 25, 2018. As at the said date, EMTS (9mobile) was not a party to the suit before the court. The action before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court is not about the sale of EMTS (9mobile) but rather, the transfer of the license even without locus standi.
EMTS (9mobile) has however appealed the order and also sought an injunction pending appeal at the Court of Appeal. Clarifying the recent reports, Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, 9mobile, Ore Olajide said, “The sale of 9mobile to Teleology Nigeria Limited has not been nullified. The court made an order to maintain status quo as at April 25, 2018 when EMTS was not a party to the suit and we have appealed the ruling as well as sought an injunction pending appeal at the Court of Appeal”.
EMTS hereby assures our subscribers and all stakeholders to remain calm as matters are under control and we are working with our team of legal counsels to follow through as deemed necessary.
EMTS remains focused on providing best in class telecommunication services to its subscribers and will provide necessary updates in due course.”