Oando Plc has approached the Court of Appeal with a view to lifting the technical suspension imposed on its shares on the floor of the Nigerian stock market by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Oando wants the Court of Appeal to make an order “reversing the decision of Justice Rilwan Aikawa who struck out the suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos.
Counsel to Oando, Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) brought this information to the notice of Justice Aikawa at the resumption of proceedings today at the Federal High Court.
In the light of the appeal, Mr Sowemimo urged Justice Aikawa 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, Mr Anthony Idigbe (SAN), opposed Mr Sowemimo’s application for the preservation of res.
Mr Idigbe argued that the issues canvassed 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.
Mr Idigbe also added that the technical suspension was temporary and was imposed to allow for an independent forensic audit of Oando’s business activities.
He argued there was no point for Justice Aikawa to make 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 and the parties are waiting for the report of the said investigation”.
Mr Sowemimo then asked the court for time to reply to this assertions and more made by Mr Idigbe in his counter-affidavit.
Justice Aikawa has adjourned further proceedings in the case till Wednesday, December 13.
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.
Trial Judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa granted an interim injunction restraining SEC from carrying out the audit, but the same judge, in a ruling on November 23, 2017, subsequently 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 (IST).
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.
Mr 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 by declining 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.
He is, therefore, urging the Court of Appeal to make an order “reversing the (Justice Aikawa’s) order striking out the suit and restoring the matter to the cause list of the Federal High Court for accelerated hearing.”