A Nigerian businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim, has filed a notice of appeal against a court decision Monday sacking him as the new owner of flagship magazine, Newswatch.
Following the judgement by a Federal High court in favour of the minority shareholders of Newswatch Communications Limited, delivered by Justice Ibrahim Buba in Lagos on Monday, the management of company filed a notice of appeal.
Reacting to the judgment, Mr. Ibrahim directed the management of the company to lay the matter before the Court of Appeal where he said he is certain of justice.
Mr. Ibrahim, in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES, said Monday’s judgment lacked legal foundation and moral reasoning and that he was sure the Court of Appeal would re-establish justice and the integrity of the judiciary.
“The Federal High Court is not a final court in Nigeria and it will be appropriate to file appeal against the ruling,” Mr Ibrahim said.
Newswatch Communications also claimed that another Federal High Court had, earlier in 2013, ruled in favour of the majority shareholders.
“Hon Justice O E Abang judgment of August 1, 2013 in the case of Newswatch Communication & Others Vs Ray Ekpu & Others. Suit No: FHC/L/C5/1054/2012.
“Justice Abang had declared the sales of Newswatch Communications Limited to the new investor valid and had invalidated the purported decision of the board in appointing Ray Ekpu to the board of the company,” the company said.
Justice Abang, in his judgment, held that N510million naira was paid for 51 per cent of the company shares and that the sum was transferred to Newswatch’s account where the payment to Ray Ekpu and other directors were made.
Newswatch further said Justice Abang’s judgment was admitted into evidence in the proceeding before Justice Buba.
“Despite the fact that the judgment of his learned brother, Justice Abang, was before him, Justice Buba said he could still not find any evidence of receipt of payment,” the management said.
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.