Daily Times ownership controversy, Appeal Court orders re-trial

The Anosike brothers are also being tried for fraud.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the retrial of the case challenging the ownership of Daily Times of Nigeria (DTN).

A shareholder in Daily Times, DSV Ltd, challenged the sale of the company to Folio Communications Ltd.

Folio Communication Ltd acquired Daily Times when it was sold by the Federal Government.

The plaintiff in a suit before Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, contended that the defendant never acquired majority shares in Daily Times, but had engaged in illegal sale of its asset.

The Anosike brothers, Fidelis and Noel, who are Directors of Folio Communications Ltd, purportedly acquired Daily Times, one of Nigeria’s oldest newspapers.

Justice Amina Augie, who read the judgment on behalf of the other justices, ordered a retrial, following an appeal filed by the Anosikes, which challenged the lower court’s decision in favour the plaintiff.

The appellants had argued in their notice of appeal that the trial judge was wrong to have failed to determine the issue of jurisdiction raised in their motion.

Ms. Augie, in a unanimous decision of the appellate court, held that the appellate court would neither dismiss nor allow the appeal because the lower court had failed to determine a fundamental issue in the suit.

According to her, the lower court erred in its judgment by not determining the issue of jurisdiction.

“Having not considered the issue of jurisdiction raised by the appellants, which forms the fundamental basis of their appeal, every decision taken by the lower court is accordingly declared a nullity,” she said.

The appellate court, therefore, ordered that the matter be taken back to the Federal High Court and re-assigned to a new judge.

Justice Okeke had entered judgment in 2010, against Folio Communications, holding that it did not pay for majority shares of Daily Times.

He said that it was therefore, unlawful for the defendant to parade itself as a shareholder of Daily Times.

The judge consequently declared the acquisition as null, void and of no effect whatsoever, and ordered that the shares acquired by the defendant be returned to Daily Times.

The Anosike brothers are also being tried by the Nigerian government over the illegal sale of Daily Times asset, and fraudulently receiving money from government agencies.

(NAN)


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