Court sacks Jimoh Ibrahim as Newswatch’s owner, cancels sale of magazine

His businesses are troubled

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday quashed the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) which transferred ownership of Nigeria’s flagship magazine, Newswatch, to wealthy businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim.

Two minority shareholders — Nuhu Aruwa and Jubril Aminu — had filed a petition, urging the court to nullify the agreement which transferred ownership of the company to Mr. Ibrahim.

The applicants also sought an order restraining the respondents from publishing and selling to the public, Newswatch daily and weekend magazines.

Respondents in the suit are Newswatch Communications Ltd, Global Media Mirror Ltd, Jimoh Ibrahim, Newswatch Newspapers and the Corporate Affairs Commission.

Delivering judgment in the suit on Monday, Justice Ibrahim Buba, upheld all the prayers of the minority shareholders.

The judge also awarded the sum of N15.7 million as damages against Mr. Ibrahim and also gave an order stopping further publications of Newswatch Daily.

Mr. Ibrahim has been locked in a battle for the magazine’s ownership after its founders purportedly transferred the majority shares to him in 2011.

Newswatch, established 30 years ago, was a household name in Nigeria during the military era particularly in the 80’s and 90’s.

After taking over the brand, Mr. Ibrahim, who also has interests in oil and gas, airline, insurance and other industries fired the founding editors of the paper, Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese, Yakubu Mohammed and Soji Akinrinade.

He also relocated the head office of the magazine and commenced a daily publication.

The lawsuit challenging his ownership of the paper has lasted since 2012.

One of the minority shareholders, Mr. Buba held that the respondent could not prove that they paid up for the shares as the petitioners gave evidence to show that the second to the third respondents totally failed to pay for the shares of the company.

Mr. Buba said: “They have not shown how and when they paid for the said shares, and nothing in paragraphs 11 and 18a of the respondents’ statement of defence shows how they paid for the shares.

“There is no evidence in paragraph 3 that the respondents paid on or before May 5, 2011 as stated, as they have only given their interpretation to that paragraph.

“Whatever monies they spent was spent on Daily Mirror and this was confirmed by DW2 during cross-examination.

“The N510 million was supposed to be paid for shares and not for any other purpose; there is no evidence to show that the shares have been paid for.

“Besides, it was a company called Global Fleet that paid the N14 million, not any of the respondents who contracted with the first respondent”.

The judge, therefore, held that the case of the petitioners had merits and granted all the reliefs sought.

“The court grants all the reliefs as set out on the petition at the inception of this case.

“An order setting aside the contract entered into between the first and second respondents’ companies by virtue of document titled “Share Purchase Agreement”, between the first and second respondents executed in May 2011.

“A consequential order setting aside the Form CAC2 ( Statement of Share Capital and Return of Allotment of Shares) of the 1st respondent company dated Aug. 27, 2012, and presented for filing by one Gloria A. Ukeje.

“An order directing the 2nd and 3rd respondents jointly and severally to pay special damages in the sum of N15.7 million to the first respondent company being loss of business profits since August 2012 till October 2012 when its operations were unilaterally shut down,” the court held.

The court also held that the petitioners had discharged the burden placed on them by proving their case, while the first to fourth respondents failed woefully to discharge the burden placed on them.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the petitioners had averred that the 2nd and 3rd respondents purportedly came into majority ownership of the Newswatch Communications by virtue of a Share Purchase Agreement entered into in May 2011.

They averred that by virtue of clause 3 of the said agreement, the 2nd respondents purportedly acquired 51 percent of the company on the condition that they paid the sum of N510 million as price of its shares.

They added that by clause 4 of the agreement, the money was to be paid on or before May 5, 2011, and that the 2nd respondent was obligated to pay additional N500 million within 90 days after takeover.

The amount was supposed to serve as working capital for the company.

The petitioners averred that without complying fully with the aforementioned conditions of agreement, the 2nd respondent through the instrumentality of the 3rd respondent, went ahead and took over full control and management of the first respondent’s company.


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  • akpos1

    Only in a continent like Nigeria will a ‘saint’ like Jimoh be allowed to buy and take over an institution set up by such a veritable epitome of journalistic acumen as was found in my Giwa.

    It was 28yrs yesterday when the very first set of Boko Haram attack was launched. Yes too! Boko haram’s first casualty via bomb was also recorded when Giwa was blown up right at his cofee table in Ikeja….. From Ikeja to Ojuelegba in the days of Bros Abacha…and then finally to Sambissa forests. No be small thing o!

    Till date, the killers of Giwa walk free. Those who brutally killed Kudirat and arranged the death of MKO are free. Those who hanged my Ken Wiwa & the Ogoni 8, are free. Some are holding key positions in govt….What about those who were the commanders at the kitchen cabinent of Musa holding the continent to ransom while he was bedridden in foreign land? Yes! One of them has become a Presidential aspirant in whose domain weapon bunkers were unraveled. Nonsense!

    Since u pple are afraid of De-amalgamation, lets adopt CONFEDERATION as system of govt so that mediocrity & corruption will be driven afar just like Ebola. Nonsense!

    • Okokomiako

      Well said. Confederation will bring great sanity.

      • Dan Fulani

        I am yet to hear any responsible Southerner be him Gov,Obi, Oba, Rep or Senator calling for the break up of Nigeria.
        We in the North we had a prominent Emir who called for the break up in the last Jamboree.
        I always wonder if these boys have ever cared to note that the Igbos in Jos alone are more than entire Northerners living in Sourh east, much less Sulaija,Kano, Kaduna and Abuja.
        These boys should know that 90% on our people do not benefit anything from oil. They don’t travel by road, they don’t go o hospital, or schools, the police and other security operatives are just harassing and extorting them. They don’t know what is electricity or pipe bone water.
        Majority of Northerners are more eager to see the break up of this contraption called Nigeria that can produce presidents like Jonathern.

        • akpos1

          Yes…the responsible Southerners are the ones who permit you to destroy its ecosystem and waste its resources while the irresponsible Southerners are those who challenge the useless syste. If this is your theoey, fine and good. I and my family chose to be on the irresponsible Southerner camp…..Truly, na person wey no see money take buy beer go say beer bitter. Orhue!

          • the truth

            True talk

    • concerned9ja

      Sorry, you got your history book wrong. Dele Giwa was blown to smithreens during the regime of his ‘friend’, the one and only evil genius and Nigerian maradona, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, not Abacha.

  • Oskirin

    tank God oooooo.ds is long ova due.cunny man.

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  • Periscope

    WHY JIMOH IBRAHIM LOST

    For a self-described lawyer, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim showed some crass ignorance here.
    He carelessly conflated a corporation – Newswatch – with its majority shareholder.
    Rather than pay the sale price to the corporation he paid the majority shareholder.
    That’s why he got his fingers burnt and lost the purchase bargain of Newswatch Ltd.