Ecobank Group faults report on forfeiture
Ecobank Group and its subsidiary, O&O Networks Limited, has described as false, a report (not The Guardian), which claimed that a Federal High Court of Nigeria made a forfeiture order against it.O&O Networks Limited is defending long-standing proceedings in the Federal High Court relating to its ownership of shares in Airtel Networks Limited that it once owned.
The company, which is a special purpose vehicle previously owned by Oceanic Bank, formed part of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) in 2011, after the acquisition of Oceanic Bank. O&O Networks noted that legal proceedings were first initiated against it in December 2006, by Broad Communications Limited (plaintiff), in the Federal High Court of Nigeria.
According to the statement by the company, there have been no material legal developments in the plaintiff’s substantive claim for monetary compensation since 2017, though a trial date on the substantive merits was recently fixed for May 28, 2019.The statement reads: “Contrary to certain press reports, there is no forfeiture order of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in these proceedings that is directed against ETI or Ecobank Nigeria Limited, and neither ETI nor Ecobank Nigeria Limited has made or is required by law to make any payment to the Federal High Court of Nigeria in relation to this long-standing litigation.
“In 2006, the plaintiff’s claim was grounded on an alleged right of first refusal over shares in Airtel Networks Limited that O&O Networks owned.“The plaintiff claimed ownership of the Airtel shares based on its right of first refusal. In 2017, the plaintiff amended its claim to seek monetary compensation of dollar equivalent of N10 billion (approximately $28 million) in place of its claim of ownership of the Airtel share.”
According to the company, the Federal High Court of Nigeria only granted the plaintiff’s interlocutory application on 7 March, 2019, to place the entire proceeds of the sale of the Airtel shares and an amount, which is significantly in excess of the plaintiff’s total monetary claim, into an escrow account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the court, pending the final determination of the substantive claim.
Already, O&O Networks has filed a notice of appeal and an application for stay of execution to the ruling, which it intends to prosecute the appeal vigorously.