A Federal High Court, Lagos, has struck out a case filed by Oando Plc against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), seeking to stop the Commission from conducting a forensic audit on the company and also lift a technical suspension placed on its shares.
The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Aikawa, consequent upon a preliminary objection filed by counsel to SEC, George Uwechue (SAN), struck out the case on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction over the matter and advised Oando to take its case to the Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST).
“I hold that the subject matter of this issue falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST) and not this court.
“In addressing this issue, I find the provisions of the Investment and Securities Act 2007 quite instructive. Section 284 of the ISA (2007) says the tribunal shall, to the exclusion of any other court of law or body in Nigeria, exercise jurisdiction to hear and determine any question of law or dispute involving -(a) a decision or determination of the Commission in the operation and application of this Act, and in particular, relating to any dispute – (i) between capital market operators; (ii) between capital market operators and their clients; (iii) between an investor and a securities exchange or capital trade point or clearing and settlement agency; (iv) between capital market operators and self-regulatory organisation; (b) the Commission and self-regulatory organisation; (c) a capital market operator and the Commission; (d) an investor and the Commission; (e) an issuer of securities and the Commission; and jurisdiction of the tribunal and so on and (f) disputes arising from the administration, management and operation of collective investment schemes.
“It is not in dispute that the matter before me is a dispute between capital market operators,” he declared in his ruling.
According to the judge, the duty of the court is to apply the law, saying: “On this premise, I have no option than to uphold the preliminary objection. I also in the same vein uphold the preliminary objection of the second defendant (Nigerian Stock Exchange). This court lacks the jurisdiction to adjudicate the dispute between both parties.
“The proper place for this matter to go is IST. I, therefore, strike out this matter.”
Oando approached the Federal High Court to obtain an order to stop the suspension of its shares and an impending forensic audit after
SEC, on October 18, directed the NSE to place the shares of Oando Plc on full suspension for 48 hours and on technical suspension from Friday, October 20.
The suspension, according to SEC, was to enable it conduct a forensic audit into the affairs of Oando Plc following petitions and protests by some aggrieved shareholders leading to a directive by the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market to issue a directive to the regulator to investigate the grievances.
SEC explained in a statement in October that it carried out a comprehensive review of the petitions and found a breach of the provisions of the Investments & Securities Act 2007 and discrepancies in the shareholding structure of Oando Plc, among others.
It said these findings were weighty and therefore needed to be further investigated.