Battle for Another Day

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Aminu, challenges Ibrahim's ownership of Newswatch
Aminu, challenges Ibrahim's ownership of Newswatch

A Lagos Federal High Court denies two external directors of Newswatch Communications Limited the order to stop the publication of Newswatch newspapers, but promises to give their case accelerated hearing

|  By Ishaya Ibrahim  |  Feb. 18, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

IT IS a battle for another day for Jibril Aminu and Nuhu Aruwa, both external directors of Newswatch Communications Limited who recently lost their initial bid to stop the publication of Newswatch Newspapers. Though the court did not grant them the relief they sought, it, however, ordered an accelerated hearing of the case to begin on February 11, and be concluded within one month.

Jimoh Ibrahim, celebrating with his staff after the court judgment
Jimoh Ibrahim, celebrating with his staff after the court judgment

Delivering judgment on the motion brought by the two aggrieved shareholders, Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos, said he did not grant the injunction because the plaintiffs failed to show special grounds that entitled them to the order. He, however, said the court would proceed with the hearing of the substantive suit. “I have no doubt that the applicants will be adequately compensated by damages if they eventually win their substantive case. I, therefore, turn down the interlocutory prayers of the applicants. Instead, I will accord the case an accelerated hearing. Accordingly, this matter must be heard and determined within one month,” Buba said.

For Aminu and Aruwa, this is partly good news because the accelerated hearing on the substantive suit would, among other things, enable them to effectively challenge Ibrahim’s ownership of Newswatch Communications Limited. Sources close to Aminu and Aruwa said the judge tried to please both parties by the judgment so that he would not appear to be bias.

For Ibrahim and his staff at Newswatch, it was celebration galore as they all danced to the verdict which, to them, was a prelude to a bigger victory.  Ibrahim commended the judge for his refusal to grant both the ex-parte and interlocutory injunctions: “The justice of a matter like this cannot be hanged on probability. The seller of Newswatch knows what they are selling and the implication of signing a letter of retirement after collecting their full benefits,” he said, adding: “With judges like Buba, there is hope for the judiciary, business and the common man.”

Ray Ekpu, oiling his gun for the battle ahead
Ray Ekpu, oiling his gun for the battle ahead

Aminu and Aruwa’s petition challenging Ibrahim’s ownership of Newswatch is the second legal case since Ibrahim rested the magazine on August 6, 2012.  He (Ibrahim) instituted the first legal action in a Lagos High Court against Ray Ekpu, Yakubu Mohammed, Dan Agbese and Soji Akinrinade, all directors of Newswatch. In the suit, which is in anticipation that they would challenge his unilateral closure of the magazine, he asked and got an injunction from Justice Okon Abang, stopping the directors from declaring a trade dispute against him.

With the hands of Ekpu and others tied, Aminu and Aruwa preceded to the Federal High Court, to set aside, among others, the share purchase agreement on the basis of which Ibrahim assumed majority shareholding in the company. Joined as defendants in the matter, are, Newswatch Communications Limited, Global Media Mirror Limited, Ibrahim, Newswatch Newspapers Limited and the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC.

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