Africa’s Richest Man Regains Control of Nigeria Securities Exchange

Aliko Dangote
Aliko Dangote

Africa’s richest man business mongul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, will tomorrow take over as the President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), following the ruling of the Court of Appeal in Lagos last Friday upholding his three appeals against cases that led to the nullification of his election as president of the exchange.

Dangote was elected the 17th president of the NSE in August 2009.

Announcing Dangote’s election, the then Director-General of the NSE, Prof. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, had said he was elected based on a unanimous acclamation by the council members immediately after the conclusion of its 48th annual general meeting.

However, Dangote’s election was nullified by the Federal High Court in Lagos in March 2010 following the application made to the court by some shareholders of African Petroleum Plc (now Forte Oil Plc), who had sued him, Nova Finance and Securities Limited, NSE and others, over alleged manipulation of AP shares.

But Dangote challenged the suit and filed appeals which were upheld by the Appeal Court presided over by Justice Helen Ogunwumiju last Friday.

Delivering judgement on the appeal filed against the August 4, 2009 status order, the court set aside the judgement of Justice Mohamad Liman, saying a status order is like an injunction and the conditions for granting an injunction must exist.

The court emphasised that there was no identifiable reason or urgency to warrant the order of status quo to be made. Accordingly, the order was set aside as it was wrongly made.

The second ruling was on the challenge to the Justice Lambo Akanbi ruling of March 12, 2010 nullifying the election. The court relied on its earlier judgement to set aside the order on the grounds that since the status quo order allegedly breached should not have been made, there was no question of it being breached.

The third judgement was on the appeal challenging the contempt proceedings and the bench warrant issued against Dangote on July 22, 2010. The whole proceeding was also set aside as having been conducted in error on the grounds that the very order leading to the contempt proceeding was invalid.

Reacting to the judgement, Dangote informed the media on Sunday that he was very happy with the ruling, as it had vindicated his position all along that he should not have been removed as president of the stock exchange’s council.

He said his first priority would be to continue with the reforms started by the present NSE director-general, Oscar Onyema, improve governance and transparency, and restore confidence in the market.

“You know the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had been running the NSE like it was an agency of government. But the stock exchange is a private exchange limited by guaranty.

“So, I will be meeting the SEC appointees on the council of the stock exchange on Tuesday and taking over that day,” he said.

Dangote added that a new council for the stock exchange with him as its president would be reconstituted next week and that the slots allotted to stockbroker members on the council would be increased from four to six.

Also commenting on the court judgements, one of Dangote’s lawyers, Mrs. Folashade Sowemimo, said they had been vindicated by the rulings, adding that the rulings had reaffirmed her belief in the country’s judicial process.

“In 2010 when his election was nullified by the Federal High Court, we had said he would appeal and that Alhaji Aliko Dangote believes in the judicial system and he would eventually be vindicated.

“You can see that at the end of the day, we have been vindicated. I am happy with the judgement of the Court of Appeal. What has happened has simply reaffirmed my belief in the country’s judicial process,” she said.

With the reinstatement of Dangote, he will take over from Mallam Ballama Manu, who has been the interim president of the council since August 5, 2010 when SEC intervened in the running of exchange.

Prior to his election in 2009, Dangote was the council’s first vice-president. He joined the council in February 2008, as the chairman, Kaduna/Kano/Yola Zonal Council.