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TRIBUNAL DISMISSES WONDER BANK'S OBJECTION OVER JURISDICTION

By NBF News
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THE Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST), Lagos has ruled that it had jurisdiction to entertain the suit file by 14 representatives of investors of Nospetco Oil and Gas Limited against the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the company also known as 'Wonder Bank' over confiscated investors fund, dismissing all the objections of the company.

The tribunal in its ruling delivered by its presiding Chairman, Salihu Usman dismissed the two grounds of objection raised by Nospecto through its counsel, Abubakar Shamshudeen of Ricky Tarfa Chambers, saying his arguments were not convincing enough.

The court held that it was not persuaded by the argument of the third respondent's counsel (Shamshudeen) going by the preponderant of the facts before it and that they (third respondent) failed woefully to convince the court that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

The tribunal could not agree with the third respondent that what transpired between her and the applicants was a simple contract but a collective investment scheme as was earlier ruled by the Abuja division of the IST on the matter brought before it by the same Nospecto. It, therefore, held that it had jurisdiction and subsequently resolved the matter in favour of the applicants.

Shamshudeen had contested the jurisdiction of the court on the ground that the subject matter of the suit was a simple contract and not securities issues, which the tribunal is empowered to adjudicate on.

According to him, the third respondent was not listed in the capital market and so the tribunal had no authority to adjudicate on the matter.

On the objection raised by the third respondent saying IST's adjudication on the matter would amount to the abuse of court process, since there was similar matter on appeal, the tribunal said that it found out that the issue involved on the earlier case on the appeal were different parties, different subject-matter and different issues and therefore could not be said to be abuse of court process.

'Where same parties feature and in the same subject-matter but different issues, there is no abuse of court process, whereas in this case, there are different parties, different subject-matter and different issues.

'On the basis of that, the application filed by the applicants does not constitute abuse of court process and therefore, the argument of the third respondent is hereby dismissed,' the judge said and adjourned the matter to May 2, 2011 for hearing of applicants application.

Responding, the applicants lead counsel, Mr. Debo Adeleke said that the ruling was likened to the Biblical judgment delivered by King Solomon, which withstood the test of time and have been universally acknowledged as the wisest ruling, stating further that the judgment had achieved one fundamental principle of law - justice.

However, the third respondent counsel said that he was going to appeal against the ruling immediately, insisting that the business between the applicants and the third respondent was a simple contract that had nothing to do with capital market investment which the tribunal was empowered to adjudicate on.

The applicants had dragged the respondents to the IST praying the tribunal to declare that the refusal of the first respondent (SEC) to direct the second respondent (CBN) to release the salvaged fund to the applicants on demand was contrary to its statutory duty.

They are also praying the court to order the first and second defendants to release the funds salvaged from the third defendant to the applicants.