The controversy surrounding the purchase of Newswatch magazine by Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim has snowballed into legal hostility as Ibrahim on behalf of Newswatch Communication Limited and his company Global Media Mirror Limited has dragged the former four directors of Newswatch, Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese, Yakubu Mohammed and Soji Akinrinade before a Federal High Court in Lagos.
In an affidavit sworn to by the company secretary of Global Media Mirror Limited, Gloria Ukeje, the deponent alleged that Newswatch Communication Limited became indebted to banks and other creditors to the tune of about N362,132,764.19. Consequently, it became impracticable for the company to continue its operation in view of its indebtedness, hence a need for the restructuring of the company. Therefore, memorandum of Newswatch Communication Limited containing terms and conditions was issued by the company for prospective investors, who were willing to take up the asset and liability of the company.
The deponent further stated: “After several negotiations, Newswatch Communication Limited was eventually purchased by Global Media Mirror Limited by virtue of shares purchase agreement. Upon the purchase of the company, four of its directors -Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese, Yakubu Mohammed and Soji Akinrinade voluntarily retired as directors on 20 August, 2012. The company held its Annual General Meeting where the following resolutions were proposed and approved; the following were appointed into the board: Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim, Modupe Ibrahim Jimoh, Jegede Emmanuel Akinmolu, Olayede Toyin and Timothy Afolayan.
“The former four directors also retired voluntarily from the company. Their retirement benefits were computed and paid to them accordingly. Ray Ekpu also resigned and his entitlement was paid like others.”
On Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, a publication was made by Global Media Mirror Limited stating that the defendants do not have enough shares put together to be on the board of Newswatch again in accordance with Companies and Other Allied Matters Act.
On 3 September this year, in a letter signed by the defendants and published in newspapers, they threatened to declare a trade dispute if Jimoh Ibrahim failed to reverse all his allegedly arbitrary and illegal decisions.
In view of this, the plaintiffs are now urging the court to declare that the defendants having resigned their directorship and holding not more than 6.3 per cent of the entire holdings of Newswatch and so they are not qualified to be referred to as employees of the company.
Jimoh Ibrahim is also urging the court to restrain the defendants or other persons acting on their behalf from acting on behalf of the 49 percent share holders of the company.
He is also urging the court to declare that in view of form CAC 7, the particulars of directors or any change therein as filed at the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC on behalf of Newswatch, the defendants are not directors of the company.
Meanwhile, the former directors, through their counsel said they needed time to file their reaction to the suit.
The court has ordered the two parties to maintain the status quo pending the hearing of the substantive suit.
The matter has been adjourned till October 2012 for further hearing.