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$27m property: Otudeko files fresh suit against Zain

By Innocent Anaba

LAGOS—Mr. Oba Otudeko, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, and his firm, Broad Communications, have re-filed a suit before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, against the directors of Zain, Nigeria’s mobile telecommunication firm, challenging the directors’ decision to lease a $27million property in Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos for use as its (Zain) headquarters.

Trial judge in the matter is Justice Okechukwu Okeke. The plaintiffs are arguing that the leasehold was extremely over-valued at $27million for a five-year tenure, and that the development is not in the interest of the GSM firm and its shareholders.

Other defendants in the suit are Mr. Gamaliel Onosode, Mr. Moez Daya, Mr. Sam Deeb, Mr. Haitham Al-Khaled, Mr. Salah Al-Fouzan, Ms. Tsega Gebreyes and Mr. Paul Usoro.

According to the plaintiffs, the decision of the board of directors was unfair and prejudicial, as  the directors failed to exercise  reasonable care and diligence in the discharge of their duties when they entered into the leasehold transaction concerning the 5,040sq meters property.

They are praying the court to direct the defendants to reverse the leasehold entered into in the name of Zain and are also urging the court to take a judicial notice of the fact that the defendants had treated the report of the committee with impunity and went ahead to execute the lease and made payment despite the negative findings on the suitability of the property made by the committee.

The plaintiffs are further seeking to protect their interests, as well as that of the company itself, from the abuse of controlling powers of majority shareholders, following Zain’s decision to lease the disputed property for use as its headquarters.

The court had on May 17, struck out the suit on technical grounds, which necessitated the plaintiffs re-filing it.


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