Home Business Boardroom crisis: Court reserves judgment in suits involving directors, Obasanjo’s ex-aide

Boardroom crisis: Court reserves judgment in suits involving directors, Obasanjo’s ex-aide

by Business News Report

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday reserved judgment in a suit filed by two aggrieved directors of Green Energy International Limited against the Chairman, Prof. Anthony Adegbulugbe. Justice Bolaji Olajuwon took the decision after counsel to the parties in the suit adopted their processes and presented their arguments. She said the judgment date would be communicated to the parties. Olajuwon also reserved judgment in a suit filed by the oil and gas company and Adegbulugbe against the two directors, Dr Bunu Alibe and Mr Ayo Olojede. The development followed the breakdown of peace talks between the directors and the company’s chairman. Adegbulugbe was a former Special Adviser on Energy in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. Alibe and Olojede, two directors in the company, had, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/PET/20/2020, sued Green Energy and Adegbulugbe as 1st and 2nd defendants. The plaintiffs, in the suit which commenced via a petition, accused Adegbulugbe of series of corporate misdemeanours, including unilateral usurpation of executive responsibilities, contrary to the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020 and the company’s Articles.

They claimed that they were unlawfully removed by the chairman of a company which they jointly nurtured to fruition. The applicants averred that such decision was contrary to the provisions of CAMA 2020 and the organisation’s Article of Association. Responding, Adegbulugbe also filed a separate suit against the two directors before the court marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1390/2020. Although the matter was formerly before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, the case was, however, reassigned to Olajuwon following the transfer of Ojukwu to the Calabar division of the court recently. When the matter came up before Olajuwon on Nov. 2, 2021, the parties indicated interest to settle the dispute out of court, prompting the judge to adjourn for report on the out-of-court settlement or for continuation of the matter.

However, at the Feb. 3 hearing, the new counsel to the two directors, Etigwe Uwa, SAN, told the court that he had just taken over the matter from Agbabiaka and would need more time to study the brief. The application was not opposed by Bembella Anachebe, SAN, who was the counsel to the respondents and the matter was adjourned for parties to explore out-of-court settlement. But on the last adjourned date, the court did not sit and the matter was fixed for Wednesday. Upon resumption of the first case filed by Alibe and Olojede on Wednesday, counsel for the defendants, Anichebe told the court that the settlement process had broken down. He said since the case was adjourned for report of settlement or hearing, he was ready to proceed with the hearing. Adeyinka Aderemi, who held the brief of Uwa, however said settlement was still ongoing as the terms of agreement were being responded to by Prof. Gbolahan Elias who was engaged to draft an interim agreement.

He said only two issues were outstanding, including the payment of salaries of the petitioners, adding that Elias had promised to revert back to the petitioners. But Anichebe insisted that in the letter written by the directors to Elias, they categorically rejected the proposal. He said Bunu and Olojede wanted their salaries to be paid first before the issue of settlement was addressed. “They are saying, pay us our salaries before talking,” he said The senior lawyer told the court that the duo had consistently rejected the draft agreement. “Given the fundamental differences, it is clear that settlement has broken down,” he added. Anichebe said since the pending motions had been served on parties, he urged the court to allow them take the applications and move on. But Aderemi restated that the last response from Elias as at yesterday (Tuesday) was that after confirming the receipt of their letter listing those two demands, he promised to respond. According to him, ” all our clients are asking for is for them to go ahead and pay their salaries.”

Responding, Anichebe insisted that no salary would be paid until the terms of settlement are concluded. He argued that the petitioners must sign an interim agreement for them to be paid salaries. Following the arguments by counsel to the parties, Olajuwon consequently ordered the parties to take their applications. While Anichebe urged the court to dismiss the suit filed by the two directors, Aderemi prayed the court to grant all the reliefs sought by their clients. After parties adopted their processes and presented their positions for and against the suit, the judge reserved judgment in the matter. She said the judgment date would be communicated to parties. Also in the suit filed by the company and Adegbulugbe against the two directors, Anichebe informed the court that having indicated interest to withdraw the suit, he urged the judge to strike out the matter. He said the case had been overtaken by events. But Aderemi, in his argument, prayed the court to dismiss the suit rather since issues had been joined in the matter. Olajuwon equally reserved judgment in the suit.(NAN)

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