Court: pay octogenarian N98.2m, $325,000

Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered three Indians to pay N98.2 million and $325,000 to 87-year-old businessman, Isaac Oluwole Oginni, for breaching his right to a fair hearing and violating Section 262 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA),

Justice Ayokunle Faji declared Oginni remains a director of his three companies – Bolawole Enterprises Nigeria, Lesag Nigeria and Intermanagement Nigeria.

The Indians are Jai Bhagwan Gupta and his sons – Vineet and Rachit. The suit is FHC/L/CS/1431/2019.

The plaintiff, through his lawyer, Yakubu Galadima, sought a declaration he remains a director in the first, second and third defendant companies.

He said as first subscriber and director in the firms, he is entitled to certain benefits that were denied him.

Oginni prayed for an order compelling the fourth defendant to render an account of the N7 billion granted to the first defendant by the Export Expansion Grant Scheme.

But the defendants’ lawyer, Festus Afeiyodion, urged the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s originating summons for lacking in merit.

Justice Faji held that no reasons were given by the defendants for removal of the plaintiff as a director, contrary to Section 262 of CAMA.

“Secion 262 of the law states that reasons must be given in the notice requesting a director’s removal before a director can be removed,” the judge noted.

The court restrained the first to sixth defendants either by themselves or their agents from any act that may curtail or impede the rights of the plaintiff as a director.

On his entitlements, the judge held: “I grant the plaintiff N81,000,000. and $150,000. This covers benefits up to August 17, 2017.

“The vacation allowance was N1 million per year. The period from 2017 to date is seven years. An additional N7 million is due to the plaintiff as vacation allowance.

“Yearly bonus is $25,000 per year. Total of $25,000 for seven years is $175, 000.

“Directors payment of N1,400,000 for seven years is N9,800,000.

“Therefore, the plaintiff is entitled to N98,200,000 and $325,000.”

Justice Faji refused plaintiff’s request for N500 million, being his benefits, commissions and brokerages.

Galadima hailed the judgment, saying: “The Judgment is sound and unassailable.

“Our client set up an indigenous company, called Bolawole Enterprises Nigeria in 1980s and brought a friend of his, the fourth respondent to manage the company.

“The fourth respondent brought his children into the company as directors, altered the initial shares and ultimately tried to remove our client and his late wife as directors. That was when we approached the court…”

“It is a big lesson for the indigenous companies to thread with caution when dealing with foreign partners so as not to lose their companies.”

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