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Assets Transfer: Court Asks Shoprite To Prove Why Case Is Urgent

Adeshola Soyele  
Updated September 1, 2020
Police protect a shoprite store in Abuja amid protests against Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV
Police protect a Shoprite store in Abuja amid protests against Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa on September 4, 2019. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday asked South African retail company, Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Limited, to show proof that its case seeking to vacate the injunction stopping the transfer of its assets abroad is urgent.

The vacation judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, also adjourned until September 7 for hearing after directing Shoprite’s counsel, Funke Adekoya, to file an application to that effect.

Shoprite had filed an application seeking the discharge of a Mareva injunction granted by the court on July 14, 2020, and stopping it from transferring its assets.

A Mareva injunction is a court order freezing a debtor’s assets to prevent them from being taken abroad.

The injunction was granted by Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos in favour of a Nigerian firm, AIC Limited.

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

In 2018, the company secured a $10 million judgment against Shoprite in a breach of contract lawsuit and obtained the Mareva injunction against the backdrop of Shoprite’s announcement to pull out of Nigeria.

Shoprite has filed an appeal at the Supreme Court to challenge the $10 million judgment.

In the Mareva injunction, Justice Liman, however, restrained Shoprite “from transferring, assigning, charging, or disposing of its trademark, franchise and intellectual property in a manner that will alter, dissipate or remove these non-cash assets and other assets, including but not limited to trade receivables, trade payables, payment for purchase of merchandise, from within the jurisdiction of the court.”

The judge also mandated the second respondent, Retail Supermarket Nigeria Limited, “to disclose its audited financial statements for the years ending 2018 and 2019, to enable the judgment creditor AIC Ltd determine the judgment debtor’s funds in its custody in order to preserve same in satisfaction of the judgment of the Court of Appeal.”

At the proceedings on Tuesday, Adekoya who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) approached the vacation judge with an application seeking to set aside the Mareva injunction.

However, the judge said he needed to be convinced that the matter was urgent enough to warrant being heard during the court vacation.