Tussle for ownership of the Sheraton Lagos Hotel and Towers and its parent company, Ikeja Hotels Plc, on Tuesday deepened, as the Ibru family members were pitched against each other in a supremacy battle.
As one group led by Maiden Ibru, the widow of late Guardian Publisher, Alex, moved to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting, EGM, another, led by the hotel chairman, Goodie Ibru, dismissed resolutions from the meeting as null, void and of no effect.
On December 1, 2014, Mrs. Ibru had moved to effect a change in the management of Ikeja Hotels Plc by publishing a notice for an EGM of the company in the Guardian and Punch Newspapers.
Mrs. Ibru’s notice followed the order of the court earlier based on an ex-parte motion directing the company to hold the EGM on January 6, 2015 at the Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja.
However, the other members of the Ibru family, led by Goodie Ibru, obtained an ex-parte injunction from the Federal High Court, Abuja, to restrain Mrs. Ibru from convening the meeting, or representing her late husband’s investment interests in Ikeja Hotels Plc.
The Goodie Ibru’s faction claimed the ex-parte motion was sequel to a bitter litigation between the children of the first wife, Helen, and the second, Maiden.
However, on Tuesday, some shareholders of the hotel, following a Federal High court order, said they had sacked Goodie Ibru as the chairman and director of the company, over alleged corporate governance infractions.
The alleged sack of Mr. Ibru was said to have been approved unanimously by the shareholders at an EGM held in Lagos.
The shareholders had also appointed Olumide Braithwaite and Tunde Sarumi, as directors of the company.
The faction also tasked KPMG Nigeria Limited to carry out a forensic audit of the management of the hotel for the period 1999 and 2014 when Mr. Ibru was its chairman.
The management consultancy firm was also mandated by the shareholders to carry out a forensic audit of the share register, as well as verify all funding and payments for the company shares amounting to two per cent or more held directly or indirectly by investors.
The meeting was presided over by an interim Chairman, Rasheed Olaoluwa, appointed by the shareholders.
Mr. Olaoluwa, a shareholder in the hotel, is the Managing Director, Bank of Industry, BOI.
The meeting however witnessed a drama, as some shareholders, following a court injunction granted Mr. Ibru by the Federal High Court, Abuja, were barred from accessing the premises of Sheraton Hotels.
The president, Progressive Shareholders of Nigeria, Boniface Okezie, said the shareholders were on a rescue mission to ensure good corporate governance and avoid the collapse of the company.
According to Mr. Okezie, the shareholders would defy the barricades at the hotel’s entrance and pass all the resolutions necessary to save the company.
“We are rescuing this company from the hands of the cabals. We are legally authorised to hold this meeting,” Mr. Okezie told reporters.
The shareholders’ president accused the regulating agencies of failing on their responsibilities, saying members were determined to remove the virus that was eating deep into the company.
The general secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Adeleke Adebayo, described the development as an abuse of court process.
He accused Ibru of abusing the privilege of being part of the management to lock the gates of the hotel against the shareholders, describing the action as an assault by a tenant against the real owners of the business.
National President, Constance Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Shehu Mikail, blamed the judiciary for allowing itself to be used, saying there was need for synergy among judiciary workers, in the interest of the economy and the country as a whole.
He said that an Abuja High Court could not have granted an injunction to a meeting approved by the Lagos High Court, if the nation’s judiciary system was sound.
“We want a better management that will protect the interest of minority shareholders, so that we will start receiving dividends.” Mr. Mikail said.