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MTN Listing: SEC, NSE Dragged To Court

By Francis Iwuchukwu, Lagos 

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has been dragged before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria.

The action which is seeking to stop the planned listing of MTN shares on the floor of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) was instituted by a Lagos-based lawyer, Dr. Charles Mekwunye.

According the suit designated FHC/ABJ/CS/2019, Dr. Mekwunye is praying the court for a perpetual injunction restraining SEC from going ahead with the listing of MTN shares pending the determination of a suit before the Supreme Court bothering on alleged breach of contract in the divestment of MTN assets.

Joined as co-defendants in the action is MTN and the NSE.

Dr. Mekwunye in his originating summons filed before the Federal High Court, is asking it to determine whether SEC can approve the listing of MTN shares in the NSE in view of the pending suit before the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

In a Motion on Notice of Interlocutory Injunction, Dr. Mekwunye is praying the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants or their agents from advertising, publishing or listing MTN shares on the NSE pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit. 

The lawyer is equally asking the court to direct the defendants to maintain status quo ante regarding the listing of MTN shares and a further order nullifying all approvals given to MTN by SEC and NSE towards facilitating the listing of its shares.

More so, Dr. Mekwunye is also urging the court for an order of mandatory/ restorative injunction setting aside and or nullifying all actions taken including notices, resolutions and authorizations by MTN with a view to facilitating the listing of its shares.

It would be recalled that Dr. Mekwunye had in 2008 dragged MTN, Lotus Capital and Stanbic IBTC Asset Management, IHS Holding LTD and INT Towers Ltd before the Federal High Court over alleged breach of contract in the massive divestment of MTN assets.

The lawyer had claimed at the lower court that MTN through its appointed nominee, Stanbic IBTC Asset Management and LOTUS Capital defaulted in a share investment agreement with him.

He urged the court then, to restrain MTN from listing its shares on the stock market pending the determination of the suit.

But ruling on a preliminary objection raised by MTN on the competence of the suit, the trial Judge, Justice Mojisola Olateru, asked parties in the suit to explore the arbitration clause embedded in the contract.

Not satisfied with the ruling of the lower court, Dr. Mekwunye filed a motion on notice on February 26, 2018 at the Court of Appeal arguing that an arbitration clause in agreement between him and MTN cannot be used to determine the suit involving IHS Holdings Ltd and INT Towers Ltd who are not parties to the arbitration clause.

The Court of Appeal in its ruling also asked parties in the suit to pursue arbitration earlier pointed out by the lower court.

Still not satisfied with the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Mekwunye took the matter to the Supreme Court of Nigeria, insisting that the crux of the matter is the failure of the respondents to list MTN shares in NSE in 2011 as agreed by parties and that until the suit is properly determined, MTN ought not to be allowed to list its shares at the stock market. 

The Supreme Court of Nigeria is yet to give final verdict on the matter.

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