Oando Drags SEC to Appeal Court over Technical Suspension

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Oando Plc has filed an application before the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, seeking the order of the Court to lift the technical suspension imposed on its shares on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The oil company had earlier approached the Federal High Court in Lagos to challenge SEC’s suspension of its shares and an audit of its business activities by forensic experts hired by SEC.

Though Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court had earlier granted an interim injunction restraining SEC from carrying out the audit, the same judge, in a ruling on November 23, 2017, struck out Oando’s suit, saying he had no jurisdiction to entertain it.

The judge said the appropriate forum to ventilate the issue was the Investment and Securities Tribunal.

But displeased with the decision, Oando, through its lawyer, Mr. Seyi Sowemimo (SAN), went before the Court of Appeal seeking the reversal of Justice Aikawa’s ruling.

Sowemimo insisted that the Federal High Court rather than the IST was the appropriate forum to hear the case.

He said the judge erred in law to decline jurisdiction because “the suit touched and concerned the operation of a company incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act.”

According to him, by virtue of Section 251(i) (e) of the constitution, the Federal High Court is empowered to entertain CAMA-related cases.

At the Monday’s proceedings before Justice Aikawa, Sowemimo informed the judge about the appeal and urged the judge to make an order “preserving the res to prevent the appeal from being rendered nugatory.”

But counsel for SEC and the Nigerian Stock Exchange, which was joined as the second defendant, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), opposed Sowemimo’s application for the preservation of the res. Idigbe argued that the issues argued by Oando in its appeal “are not substantial in law.”

He insisted that it was in the best interest of investors, shareholders and members of the general public that SEC placed Oando’s shares under technical suspension.

He said the technical suspension was to prevent panic and dumping of Oando’s shares by investors and members of the public.

Idigbe added that the technical suspension was temporary and was imposed to allow for an independent forensic audit of Oando’s business activities.

He said there was no point for Justice Aikawa to give an order preserving the res because “the suspension of the trading of the plaintiff’s shares in the Nigerian Stock Exchange has already been completed.”

Sowemimo sought for time to file a reply to Idigbe’s counter-affidavit.

Justice Aikawa adjourned further proceedings in the case till Wednesday, December 13.