By Innocent Anaba
THE Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, yesterday, struck out an application by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman, Dangote Group of Companies, asking the court to stay further proceedings in the suit challenging his election as the President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, before a Federal High Court, Lagos.
Ruling onÂ an oral applicationÂ by Chief Seyi Sowemimon, SAN, counsel to Dangote, who had informed the court that the application should be withdrawn, Presiding Judge, Justice RaphaelÂ Agbo, struck out the application and awarded cost of N10,000 in favour of the respondents.
The court also adjourned till 4 November 2010 to hear a fresh application filed by Dangote,Â seeking for extension of time within which to compile and transmit the record of appeal from Federal High Court, Lagos to the Court of Appeal.
Shareholders’ challenge, ‘big boys’
A Federal High Court in Lagos had in a ruling, following an application by some shareholders of African Petroleum Plc challenging the election of Dangote as the President and Chairman of the Council NSE in defiance to an order of court, nullifying same.
The trial judge at the lower court, Justice Lambo Akanbi, held that the action of the NSE and the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, in conducting the election, 6 August 2009, was contemptuous of a positive order of court and set aside all the steps taken by the NSE and SEC on the issue.
Dissatisfied, Dangote appealed against his removal as NSE President and filed an application.
The judge further decried the conduct of the officials ofÂ the NSE and SEC in the matter, insisting that the time had come to checkmate those he called the â€˜big boysâ€™ and those who claimed to be close to those in corridors of power, on the need to respect court orders.
15 AP shareholders had through their counsel,Â Mr. Onyewuchi Aniakor, filed the suit against Dangote, Nova Finance and Securities Limited, NSE, SEC and 10 defendants over alleged massive manipulation of the AP shares and sought to nullify Dangoteâ€™s election on the grounds of disobedience to court order.
The AP shareholders had on August 4, 2009 secured an interim order from a former judge handling the case, Justice Mohammed Liman, who directed the parties to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the suit.
But the NSE and SEC were said to have conducted an election on August 6, 2009, during the pendency of the suit, which prompted the shareholders to institute a contempt proceeding against the respondents and urged the court to set aside the purported election.
Delivering his ruling on the matter,Â Justice Akanbi of the lower court had said, â€œthe conduct of all officials of the NSE and SEC, who organised and participated in the purportedÂ election of Dangote is reprehensibleÂ and highly condemnable.