…berates NSE, SEC for disregarding order
…Dangote says he will appeal ruling
By Innocent Anaba
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, today (Friday) nullified the August 6, 2009 election of Alhaji Aliko Dangote as the President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE. Meanwhile, Dangoteâ€™s counsel, has meanwhile said he will appeal against the ruling.
Trial judge in the matter, Justice Lambo Akanbi, ruling on an application by some shareholders of African Petroleum Plc, who had sought to set aside his (Dangoteâ€™s) election as NSE president, on the ground that the said election was held in clear disregard to an order of court, after reviewing the facts of the matter, saidÂ â€œit is the case of the applicants that this court in the enroled order of 4/8/09 granted an interim order, when it ordered parties to maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of both the interlocutory application and the preliminary objection.
â€œNSE resisted this claim and submitted that the application for an interim order was refused by the court. I have quoted in extenso the proceedings of this court per, my noble brother Liman J, on August 4, 2009. From the extract of the proceedings quoted earlier in this ruling, I find nowhere therein where the court refused an application for an interim order. Rather, the court made it abundantly clear that the oral application of counsel for the applicants for an order to maintain status quo was grantedâ€, the court said.
Condemning the conduct of NSE and Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, the court said â€œthe conduct of all officials of the NSE and SEC, who orgainised and/or participated in the purported election of Dangote is reprehensible and highly condemnable. They perhaps look at the court and think that it can only bark but cannot bit.
This court will make them see that our teeth are not only sharp, they can be poisonous when they chose to bite. The court will not allow them to treat the court orders as useless by refusing to obey them lest anarchy may set in and in a developing country like ours where people particularly the illiterates are literarily itching to take law into their hands, we will lapse into the dark ages and become once again the dark country which we were recently portrayed by the civilized committee of nations.
â€œThe government should also look inward for a way to sanction, domestically, any government functionaries found in disobedience of court’s order. This is the only way the “big boys” and those claiming to be close to power and who are laws unto themselves can be checkmated so that the genuine desire of the present administration to enthrone true and genuine democracy can be attained.
The integrity of the court is at stake here in this application. There is a direct affront on the authority of the court. The court must therefore rise to make the lawless elements in the 13th and 14th defendants see how sharper it is than a serpent tooth to have disobedient and lawless executives in government establishments.
â€œI will bite them with my sharp teeth by sustaining the application of learned counsel for the applicants with the following order, An order is hereby made nullifying, vacating and setting aside all steps taken by NSE in purporting to elect Dangote as the President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, including but not limited to the entire purported election held on August 6, 2009 during the pendency of this suit and in disregard of the positive order of this court made on August 4, 2009″, the court said.
The court had also said, â€œlike every judicial official, I feel troubled and tremble each time I see any Chief Executive of a government agency or establishment and their minions spurn the treat the order of court with levity, leaving the impression that since the court have neither the police nor guns nor the army to enforce whatever orders they make, they should be treat such orders with impunity.
I see the act of the officials and executive, who operate NSE and SEC as a subtle strive and exploration by devious and dubious way to circumvent and render nugatory, the true intention of the order of the court to maintain status quo. Where, I ask, do we proceed from there, if the order of the court can be callously and ignomiously treated. The resultant effect is better imagines than saidâ€.
Earlier in the ruling, the court had said, â€œat page 2 of the enrolled order are two orders of this court granted in the terms following:- motion for interlocutory injunction are adjourned to August 11, 2009 for hearing and that parties are required to maintain status quo pending the hearing of the application. There is also apparently no dispute as to the order of the court for maintenance of status quo pending the determination of the applications before the courtâ€.
â€œWhereas the applicants contends that the status quo is a restraint order on the respondents to stop any action or the doing of anything in respect of the subject matter of the suit and the interlocutory application for injunction, NSE positioned that it is for the running of the statutory business of the Exchange as governed by both the law and the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the NSE.
In the interlocutory application for injunction against the respondents, the applicants prays for an order restraining the NSE and Securities and Exchange Commission,Â not only from continuing to retain and/of permit Dangote to continue to remain and/or occupy the office of the 1st Vice President, it also seeks an order ofÂ injunction restraining NSE and SEC from continuing to retain orÂ permit Dangote as a member of the council pending the hearing and determination of their substantive suit.
â€œThe NSE in paragraph 8 of the counter affidavit described the order of this court commanding parties to maintain status quo as purported order and further proceeded further in paragraph 10 to state that indeed, the election was held wherein Dangote was duly elected into the NationalÂ Council of NSE. I find as a fact that the record of this court and affidavit evidence before me that there is indeed a positive order of this court made on August 4, 2009, commanding the parties to maintain status quo.
The status quo in this suit is clear and unambiguous. The act sought to be restrained include, the act ofÂ NSE and Securities and Exchange Commission permitting Dangote to continue to hold himself out as 1st Vice President and member of council the council of NSE.
â€œThe 13th and 14th respondents inspite of that order and in flagrant and reckless disregard of same went ahead not only permitting Alhaji Dangote, as a member of the Council, but also putting him up to contest elections as National President of the council.