The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday dismissed a suit by Spectrum Wireless Communications Limited against Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services (EMTS), owners of 9mobile.
The plaintiff challenged the sale of Etisalat (which was renamed 9mobile).
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, in a ruling on EMTS’ preliminary objection, held that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to file the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/153/2018.
He held that there was no direct shareholding relationship between Spectrum Wireless and EMTS to vest on Spectrum the right to sue EMTS to protect its alleged shareholding.
The court also upheld the defendant’s position that Spectrum is not a shareholder in EMTS and cannot be directly affected by the actions of its shareholders – Mubadala Holdings Cyprus Ltd, Myacynth Coperative UA and Etisalat International Nigeria Ltd.
The court further upheld the defendant’s argument that if at all Spectrum has a right of action, it should be against Premium Telecommunications Holdings NV (PTHNV), the company it originally invested in, and not EMTS.
Justice Aneke, therefore, upheld the submission of counsel to EMTS that not being a shareholder of EMTS, Spectrum lacked the locus standi (legal right) to bring the suit against EMTS on the basis of any decision taken by EMTS’ shareholders.
The judge added that the concept of “indirect shareholding/economic interest” claimed by Spectrum is unknown to Nigerian law, which only recognises members of a company as those named in its Register of Members.
Justice Aneke also held that Spectrum is not a party to the credit facilities, which it claimed were unlawfully obtained, adding that it is elementary law that only parties to a contract can make judicial claims in respect thereof.
The court, therefore, dismissed the suit in its entirety.
Spectrum Wireless Communications had sued EMTS and 16 others, including United Capital Trustees Limited (the lenders), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over the sale of 9mobile.
The company had claimed that it acquired indirect holding of 30 per cent of EMTS’ shares after a private placement and was allotted 4,041,096 Class A shares of PTHNV, which owns 99 per cent of the shares in MyaCynth.
The plaintiff also claimed that MyaCynth holds 30 per cent of EMTS BV’s shares; that EMTS BV holds 99.9 per cent of EMTS’ shares, and that EMTS’ syndicated loan from the second to fourth defendants was granted without the requisite statutory approval of CBN.
Spectrum Wireless Communications also claimed that its investments in EMTS would be lost if the 15th to 17th defendants were allowed to effect EMTS’ sale.
However, Justice Aneke dismissed the claims and upheld EMTS’ preliminary objection.