By Oluwatobi Opusunju
Tomorrow’s sale of 9mobile appears in jeopardy. While the court’s order was made at the close of business last Friday, hopes for a possible reversal are cloudy as insiders within the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) say the commission as a lawful body is bound to obey court orders.
The Federal High Court of Nigeria, sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos terminated the Ex-parte order issued on the 3rd of July, 2017 granting the appointment of the Interim Board of 9mobile. With this, the bid process to acquire Nigeria’s fourth biggest telecommunications firm, slated for January 16, may have to be suspended in what could prolong the financial crisis plaguing 9mobile.
The court injunction warns the public to desist from the intended sale or acquisition of 9mobile.
Before the court injunction by Justice Ibrahim Buba on Friday January 12, the Interim Board of Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service (EMTS)/9Mobile, with the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC), had received bids from about five bidders scheduled for tomorrow.
By Justice Ibrahim Buba’s recent ruling, contained in a document made public, “any institution or business who transacts business for the purpose of sale or acquisition of 9Mobile does so at his or her own risk”.
The termination of the Ex-parte order is coming after Spectrum Wireless Communication Ltd, which invested about $35 million in Etisalat, now 9Mobile in 2009 filed an application stating that the order was obtained by misrepresentation of facts that isolated its stake in the company.
There are various reports around the issue. One report clains that Spectrum Wireless Communication Ltd which has about 17.5 per cent of the shares in EMTS is demanding for a return on its investment before the sale of 9Mobile can be concluded.
Another report claimed that Spectrum Wireless and three others after investing about $100 million in EMTS Ltd in 2009 for the expansion of the company’s infrastructure base no return on investment has been made to them so far.
The court, however, in pursuant to the grant of Spectrum Wireless Communication Ltd stated that “an order is hereby granted discharging the ex-parte order made by this court in this suit in favour of the respondent on July 3, 2017.
“The order made pursuant to motion ex-parte dated July 3, 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 order nullifies the appointment of Dr Joseph Nnana of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr, Boye Olusanya ,Mrs Funke Ighodaro, Mr Seyi Bickersthet and Mr Ken Igbokwe as Security Trustees Nominee Directors on the board of EMTS Ltd/ 9Mobile.