A Federal court in Nigeria has nullified the “sale” of 9Mobile (nee Etisalat Nigeria). Nothing unusual here as I never really believed that 9Mobile was sold when litigants were running over one another with court-bullets as injunctions. That someone saw those injunctions, and yet released money, was a sign of total misunderstanding of the highly active court system in Nigeria. There is fraternity in the legal system in Nigeria: judges respect prior injunctions fanatically. That is why some governors are still being tried for cases that started in 2007, and at the current pace, the cases will finish when paper filing will be illegal in Nigeria!
The Federal High Court in Abuja has, in an April 1, 2019 ruling, set aside the sale of a major telecommunication firm, Etisalat International Nigeria Limited, now 9Mobile, to Teleology Nigeria Limited.
An enrolled order made by Justice Binta Nyako was sighted on Thursday.
The judge held that the steps taken in relation to the exchange of ownership of the company were in violation of subsisting court orders that parties to the pending suit should maintain status quo.
The court had by the orders restrained parties to the suit, involving investors and other shareholders in the company, from destroying the “res,” the subject matter in dispute in the suit.
I had asked if they indeed sold 9Mobile?
No nation has any competitive #4 mobile carrier: two strong leading operators are typical. But in some cases, you can have a forceful #3. But anything beyond #3 is forgettable. Nigeria will not change that until we have billionaires who can buy English ball clubs just to tell their friends: “My boys will play tomorrow, come over to my booth”.
Yes, Teleology Holdings which received approval to take over the operations of 9mobile as the preferred bidder has pulled out of the deal. The Founder of Teleology Holdings Limited, Mr. Adrian Wood, the pioneer CEO of MTN Nigeria, released a statement, noting: “We now must stand down from further work on the 9mobile project.
My prediction remains that Glo will pick 9Mobile directly or indirectly. Indirectly means someone buys it and uploads into Glo.
UPDATE – 9Mobile has responded
From Premium Times.
The court’s ruling implies that actions concerning the company, including the processes taken by the National Communications Commission to resolve the dispute by selling over the company; are null and of no effect, since parties had been ordered to maintain status-quo from April 25, 2018.
In a reaction, however, the management of EMTS on Thursday denied the nullification by the FHC.
According to the company; the court only decided on the issue of locus standi. The statement was signed by the company’s legal adviser, Ore Orilade.
EMTS however noted that it would appeal the ruling.
“The Management of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd. (trading as 9mobile) is aware of the news publication being circulated on online news platforms that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has nullified the sale of EMTS to Teleology Nigeria Limited. EMTS hereby states that these news reports are incorrect, misleading, mischievous and a total falsehood.
“The Federal High Court, Abuja did not nullify the sale of EMTS; the court on 1st April 2019 made an order for parties to maintain status quo as at April 25, 2018. As at the said date, EMTS (9mobile) was not a party to the suit before the court. The action before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court is not about the sale of EMTS (9mobile) but rather, the transfer of the license even without locus standi.
“EMTS (9mobile) has however appealed the order and also sought an injunction pending appeal at the Court of Appeal,” the statement said