AP shareholders ask Supreme Court to restrain Dangote as NSE President

Shareholders of African Petroleum, (AP) PLC, have asked the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, which allowed Mr Aliko Dangote resume as President of Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE.

The aggrieved AP shareholders, through their counsel, Mr Onyebuchi Aniakor submit that the appellate court erred in law, in its proceeding.

The shareholders want the Supreme court to restrain Mr Aliko Dangote from taking any step and/or further steps to occupy and/or assume the duties & rights of President of NSE, in pursuance of the decision of the Court of Appeal pending the hearing and final determination of the appeal at the Supreme Court.

They also want the appellate court to restrain the defendant from parading himself and/or allowing himself to be paraded as President of NSE, pending the hearing and final determination of the appeal at the Supreme Court

Dangote resumed back as the president of the NSE on Tuesday, June 19 following a Court of Appeal ruling which reversed a federal high court judgement that nullified his election as the president of the nation’s bourse.

Africa’s richest man was in August 2009, elected the 17th president of the NSE based on a unanimous acclamation by the council members.

Justice Muhammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos, nullified the election, ruling that it was in clear violation of an order of August 4, 2009, which directed all parties to maintain status quo in a suit by aggrieved shareholders of AP Plc.

The suit was against Dangote, Nova Finance and Securities Limited; a stock broking firm, and others on allegation that AP’s share prices were manipulated.

Dangote appealed against that decision and urged the Court of Appeal to set aside the ruling of the lower court.

In its judgment, the Court of Appeal held that since the federal high court was wrong to order parties to maintain status quo, there was no need to annul the election.

The court also held that Mr Dangote cannot be held for contempt over the elections.

 

Alleged N3.3bn theft: Okereke-Onyuike urges court to ‘stay proceedings’

The former Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Prof Ndi Okereke-Onyuike has asked a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere to stay proceedings in the bid by the Lagos State government to try her for alleged N3.3billion theft.

Counsel to Prof Okereke-Onyuike , Mr Wole Olanipekun (SAN) faulted a provision in Section 273 of the state’s Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), 2011, which prohibits suspending proceedings in a criminal trial, saying it is a “legislative taboo”.

In an application before the court, he asked for a stay of proceedings on the matter until an appeal he filed at the Court of Appeal is determined.

Prof Okereke-Onyiuke is challenging a ruling by the trial judge, Justice Christopher Balogun, in which he assumed jurisdiction and said she should be brought to court for arraignment.

Mr Olanipekun said the Court of Appeal has fixed hearing on the appeal for November 12, and so continuing with the case at the High Court may foist a state of helplessness on the appellate court.

According to him, should the judge go on with the trial, it cannot suspend its judgment should it happen that the appeal had not been concluded.

“Your Lordship cannot continue any trial and postpone verdict when the Constitution has proposed a time-limit of 90 days within which you shall deliver judgment after final address.

Citing several laws that backed a stay of proceedings pending appeal, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria urged the judge to follow judicial precedence rather than abide by an “unprecedented provision”.

But counsel to Lagos State, the Solicitor-General, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN) urged the court to dismiss the application, saying “once the jurisdiction is challenged, the only jurisdiction the court has is to enquire and determine whether it can entertain this application for stay of proceedings.”

“This is because this court no longer has power to stay proceedings in a criminal matter since this provision was enacted in 2011. The section is valid and binding on this court as well as on the parties.”

“All previous decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on the issue of stay of proceedings in criminal trial are inapplicable to the present application because they were all decided before the ACJL was enacted and so were never considered as far as Lagos State is concerned.

The Lagos state government had filed two separate charges, accusing Okereke-Onyuike, her deputy, Alhaji Lance Musa Elakama and six others of alleged N3, 301, 000, 000 billion theft.

The others are Creative Financial Services Limited, Mining System Limited, OPDC Properties Limited, OAK Business and Finance Company Limited, Uzoma Henry Onyekuru (m) and Kingdom Securities and Finance Company Limited.

The presiding Judge, Justice Balogun has adjourned till July 19 for a ruling on the stay of proceedings application.

Court of Appeal returns Dangote as President of Stock Exchange

Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, will on Tuesday return back to the office of the President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), following last Friday’s ruling by the Court of Appeal in Lagos upholding his three appeals against cases that led to the nullification of his election as president of the exchange in March 2010.

Dangote was elected the 17th president of the NSE in August 2009 based on a unanimous acclamation by the council members immediately after the conclusion of its 48th Annual General Meeting.

However, his election was nullified by the Federal High Court in Lagos in March 2010 following the application made to the court by some shareholders of African Petroleum Plc (now Forte Oil Plc), who had sued him, Nova Finance and Securities Limited, NSE and others, over alleged manipulation of AP shares.

But the business mogul challenged the suit and filed appeals which were upheld by the Appeal Court presided over by Justice Helen Ogunwumiju last Friday.

Delivering judgement on the appeal filed against the August 4, 2009 order, the court set aside the judgement of Justice Mohamad Liman, saying a ‘status order’ is like an injunction and the conditions for granting an injunction must exist.

The court emphasised that there was no identifiable reason or urgency to warrant the order of status quo to be made.

The second ruling was on the challenge to the Justice Lambo Akanbi ruling of March 12, 2010 nullifying the election. The court relied on its earlier judgement to set aside the order on the grounds that since the status quo order allegedly breached should not have been made, there was no question of it being breached.

The third judgement was on the appeal challenging the contempt proceedings and the bench warrant issued against Dangote on July 22, 2010. The whole proceeding was also set aside as having been conducted in error on the grounds that the very order leading to the contempt proceeding was invalid.

Reacting to the judgement, Dangote in an interview stated that he was very happy with the ruling, as it had vindicated his position all along that he should not have been removed as president of the stock exchange’s council.

He said his first priority would be to continue with the reforms started by the present NSE director-general, Oscar Onyema, to improve governance and transparency, and restore confidence in the market.

“You know the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had been running the NSE like it was an agency of government. But the stock exchange is a private exchange limited by guaranty.

“So, I will be meeting the SEC appointees on the council of the stock exchange on Tuesday and taking over that day,” he said.

He added that a new council for the stock exchange with him as its president would be reconstituted next week and that the slots allotted to stockbroker members on the council would be increased from four to six.

Alhaji Dangote, will now be taking over from Mallam Ballama Manu, who has been the interim president of the council since August 5, 2010 when SEC intervened in the running of exchange.

Prior to his election in 2009, Dangote was the council’s first vice-president. He joined the council in February 2008, as the chairman, Kaduna/Kano/Yola Zonal Council.

 

Zenith banks declares 33.4 percent increase in turnover

More banks have filed in their first quarter financial reports to the Nigerian stock exchange.

One of such banks is Zenith bank, which has declared a 33.4 percent increase in its turnover from N54.25 billion in 2011 to N72.35 billion for the period under review.

Profit before tax and profit after tax also increased by 25.4 and 26 percent respectively while it’s net assets increased by 5.6 percent to 397.83 billion naira.

However, the National Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) for the first quarter of the year recorded a 2.2 percent drop in its revenue from N1.59 billion to N1.56 billion.

Its profit before tax and profit after tax fell by 43.9 and 47.3 percent to N283.17 million and N192.55 million.

The company’s net assets also fell by four percent to N4.88 billion.

Stock Exchange council spent N186 million on 165 Rolex wrist watches – Arunma Oteh

Financial schemes and misappropriation of funds by former council members of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) was responsible for the near collapse of the capital market.

According to the director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Arunma Oteh, the former council members carried out fraudulent transactions which includes the purchase of N186 million worth of wristwatches without proper accounts and a yacht for N39 million.

This was part of the revelations of the Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Arunma Oteh on Monday at the resumed hearing of the House of Representative ad-hoc committee probing the near collapse of the capital market.

Speaking about the NSE, she said “it was brought to my attention that there were incidences of financial scheming, misappropriation, false accounting, misrepresentations, and questionable transactions”.

“For instance, the council of the Nigeria stock Exchange bought a yacht for N37 million and wrote down the book value within one year by recognising it in its books as a gift presented during its 2008 long service award” she alleged.

“Yet there are no record of the beneficiary,” she added.

Dr Oteh also alleged that the council of the stock exchange also spent N186 million on the purchase of 165 Rolex wrist watches, as gift for awardees out of which only 73 were actually presented to the awardees. “The outstanding 92 Rolex watches valued at N99.5 million remained unaccounted for.”

“These were the kind of financial imprudence that were perpetrated at the Nigerian stock exchange,” Ms Oteh said.

The SEC Boss accused the NSE of “weaknesses in corporate governance, weaknesses in risk management, weaknesses in internal control, insufficient oversight of brokerage firms and listed companies and inabilities to enforce rules.”

She noted that the inspection team that examined the NSE found out that “more than 2, 700 investors complaint lodged with the Nigeria Stock Exchange had yet to be treated.”

Access bank profit drops by 20.8%

Access bank PLC has declared a 20.8 percent drop in its profit after tax to N12.11 billion from N15.29 billion.

The bank in its quarterly report to the Nigerian Stock Exchange posted an interest income N52.17 billion from N102.07 billion recorded previous years for the same period under review.

Its net assets increased by 9.7 percent from N119.21 billion in 2011 to N218.57 billion.

Stock Index records a year high

The stock index of the Nigerian Stock Exchange climbed to a seven and a half month high on Thursday, lifted by gains in the banking sector and an increase in foreign capital inflows.

The index has edged up 5.98 percent so far this year, recouping some of the losses it sustained earlier in the year caused by banks publishing negative or smaller profits for full year owing to bad loan write-offs.

The stock index crossed the psychologically significant level of 21,000 points for the first time this year, gaining 0.64 percent on Thursday to close at 22,109.76 points.

“We’re still sticking to our year-end target of 23,500 for the index, with banks to lead the way,” said Bunmi Asaolu, head of research at FBN Capital, a subsidiary of First Bank.

Banks were back in the black in the first quarter of this year, after posting disappointing earnings in 2011, drawing investors back to equities and boosting stock market liquidity.

“The Q1 results (are) … the most visible sign that things have improved and that we are past the end of the last bad loan cycle,” Asaolu said.

The index of the top ten banks has climbed 15 percent this year to emerge as the second-best performing index so far, after the consumer goods sector, helping lift the broader index.

United Bank for Africa (UBA) gained 4.94 percent on Thursday, almost the maximum five percent daily limit allowed, to N3.40, as the best gainer.

Other gainers included FCMB and Sterling Bank, up more than 4 percent each.

NSE introduces 10 primary market makers

The management of the Nigerian Stock Exchange has selected ten stockbroking firms in the country to uphold the responsibility of primary market making in the equity market.

The CEO of the exchange, Oscar Onyema says the selection process of the ten out of the twenty applications, entailed meeting the criteria of a minimum of N570 million net capital base; compliance history; operational capabilities and considerations on technological facilities.

The ten qualified market makers include, Stanbic IBTC, Greenwich securities, Renaissance capital, CSL stockbrokers and First bank of Nigerian securities.

Others are Future view, Vetiva, and Capital Bancorporation, WSTC, ESS/dunn loren.