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COURT RESTRAINS FIRM, OTHERS OVER DAILY TIMES TRADEMARK

By NBF News
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THERE seems to be no end insight to the legal battle for the soul of Daily Times Nigeria (DTN) as a Federal High Court, Lagos yesterday restrained a businessman, Mr. Fidelis Anosike, his brothers Noel and Charles as well as their company, Folio Communications Limited and agents from 'running, operating or carrying on business in the name of 1st October and Times Press Limited pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.'

The court before Judge Charles Archibong also restrained two commercial banks, Diamond Bank Plc and Union Bank Plc, who are the 11th and 12th defendants in the suit, and their agents from 'recognising, accepting or honouring cheques or other financial instruments signed or executed' on behalf 1st October and Times Press Limited by the Anosike brothers and Folio Communications Ltd.

The judge, before adjourning the matter to May 24, 2010 equally restrained the 1st to 7th defendants and their agents from 'opening, maintaining or running any account with any bank or financial institution in the name of 1st October and Times Press Limited' pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

The judge's orders were sequel to the ex-parte application brought by the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs, Daily Times Plc and DSV Limited, in which they urged the court to grant the orders in the interest of justice, arguing that they stand to suffer hardship and loss unless the orders were granted.

The defendants in the suit are 1st October Publications, African Times Plc, Folio Communications, Fidelis Anosike, and his brothers Noel Anosike and Charles Anosike.

Others are the National Planning Commission and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Attorney General of the Federation, Diamond Bank Plc and Union Bank Plc.

In an affidavit in support of the ex-parte motion sworn to by Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah, the plaintiffs averred that since the privatisation of Daily Times Plc, the Anosike brothers and their company, Folio Communications, have sought to take away the business of publishing and circulating various titles on the stable of Daily Times Plc.

He stated that using its resources to incorporate and register1st October and Times Press Limited, they have employed various stratagems to take over aspects of the printing and publishing businesses of Daily Times Plc.

The senator argued that since Folio Communications was no longer a shareholder of Daily Times Plc, it automatically means that the 1st to 3rd defendants were no longer director of the renowned publishing company.

Obiorah also argued that pursuant to the privatisation policy of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), 96.5 per cent of the shares of Daily Times held on behalf of the Federal Government by NICON Insurance were put on sale and that Folio Communications, which emerged the preferred bidder, offered N1.250 billion for them but could not pay the money.

He claimed that Folio resulted to borrowing and inviting co-investors to assist in raising the money.

Obiorah contended that in the process, Folio Communications borrowed the sum of N750 million from Hallmark Bank Plc and guaranteed repayment with the shares it was about to acquire in Daily Times.

The firm, according to him, also created fixed and floating debentures over the assets of the company even when it had not become a shareholder of Daily Times Plc.

He stated that Folio Communications also offered the 2nd plaintiff, DSV Limited, 40 per cent of the said shares as a co-investor at the cost of N500 million, which it paid directly and was subsequently duly registered as a shareholder of Daily Times Plc by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

Obiorah said because Folio Communications was unable to pay back the credit facility obtained from Hallmark Bank, the bank appointed a receiver/manager over the firm's business and this created a deluge of law suits, culminating in a judgment where it was held that the Folio Communications was no longer a shareholder of Daily Times Plc.