The Court of Appeal on Thursday adjourned until Jan. 16, 2024, to hear an appeal seeking to restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from investigating a Lagos-based company, Woobs Resources Ltd.
The appeal before the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal is challenging a Federal High Court decision.
Justice I. N. Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Lagos State, had in March dismissed a suit filed by Woobs Resources Ltd. which prayed the court to restrain EFCC from investigating the management of the company or meddling with its activities.
Oweibo held among other decisions that by the powers vested in EFCC, it was duty-bound to investigate such a matter.
The court also held that the second respondent was a shareholder and a director of the company, and was, therefore, entitled to lodge a complaint against the company.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the appellants in the case are Woobs Resources Ltd., Sandworth Properties Ltd. and Managing Director of Woobs Resources Ltd., Whoba Ugwunna.
The respondents are the EFCC and James Onyemenam, who was removed as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Woobs Resources Ltd. in 2010.
The appellants filed the notice of appeal following the lower court’s decision.
In the notice of appeal, the appellants are praying the court to declare as unlawful and ultra vires EFCC’s power to interfere or investigate the private business of the appellants on account of a petition based on a civil dispute which is a subject of a case pending in the Court of Appeal.
The appellants are also seeking an injunction restraining EFCC from inviting or arresting them in connection with ownership of shares and management of the company.
In their statements of fact, the appellants said that the two companies were limited liability companies involved in real estate management, adding that the third appellant, Whoba Ugwunna, was the Managing Director.
The appellants stated that they wanted to run some businesses but found out that their bank accounts were frozen on EFCC’s orders.
The appellants said that they realised that the second respondent, James Onyemenam, had invited the EFCC, claiming that some funds were fraudulently diverted.
The appellants, however, stated that the relationship between the second respondent and the appellants started by execution of a joint venture agreement which involved some transfer of shares.
In his reply, the second respondent stated that the parties had a joint venture agreement to develop and construct a modern mammy market at the Ikeja cantonment as well as other businesses.
Onyemenam stated that following the agreement, the third appellant, Ugwunna, transferred 275,000 shares to him (Onyemenam) which made him the highest shareholder in the company.
He said that six accounts were opened for smooth running of the businesses.
Onyemenam stated that in 2010, he was unlawfully removed as the managing director of the company and was removed as a signatory to the accounts.
According to him, he went to court but the court referred the parties to an arbitration tribunal.
He said that the court of arbitration resolved all matters in his favour but the appellants filed the matter at the Federal High Court.
He said that at the lower court, all the claims of the appellants were dismissed and a cost of N100,000 awarded against them.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Thursday, Mike Aondoakaa (SAN), a former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), appeared for the appellants, while F. S. Mohammed appeared for EFCC and Christian Ededor appeared for the second respondent.
The former AGF told the court that he had an application to amend the notice of appeal.
Counsel for the other parties did not oppose the application.
Justice Olujimi Bada, the lead justice, granted the application and adjourned the case for hearing.