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Despite court victory, Goodie Ibru bows out of Ikeja Hotels

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Barely two months after securing victory in court as the authentic chairman of Ikeja Hotels plc, Goodie Ibru has resigned from that office.

Sheraton Hotel, Lagos
Sheraton Hotel, Lagos

Mr. Ibru said he took the move in the overall interest of the company and the larger Ibru family.

In a statement, he anchored his decision on the need to get Ikeja Hotels to perform optimally, which have been hampered by multiple law suits filed by shareholders in the contest for the management and control of the company.

He stated that the decision of Justice Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on December 21, 2016, confirming him chairman vindicates his struggle for corporate governance in the company and provides right timing for him to retire as founding chairman after 32 years in office.

Mr. Ibru called on the younger generation of Ibrus to work with other shareholders to continue to carry on the torch of excellence for which Ikeja Hotels has been known.

He stated also that the Ibru family has gone through a tough phase in the recent past and as the only surviving son of the first generation of Ibrus, he is more committed to working with his sisters on keeping the family united.

THE COURT VICTORY

Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja had in December ruled that Mr. Ibru was the authentic chairman of Ikeja Hotels plc.

In his judgment, the judge faulted the removal of Mr. Ibru as chairman of Ikeja hotels.

On January 6, 2015, an Extra Ordinary General meeting, EGM, of Ikeja Hotels Plc had removed Mr. Ibru as chairman and reconstituted the board of the company.

But in his judgement, Mr. Kafarati said the actions taken at the EGM were “unlawful, null and void and of no legal consequence.”

His judgment was in response to an originating summon of April 24, 2015 filed in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/378/2015 by three shareholders, Isaac Adalemo, Kes Cornerstone International Ltd and Braimoh Ademuyewo Adesina.

Goodie Ibru
Goodie Ibru

The suit was filed against ten defendants including Ikeja Hotels, IHL Services, Mr. Ibru, Corporate Affairs Commission, Security and Exchange Commission, Rasheed Olaoluwa, Olumide Braithwaite, Tunde Sarumi, the Inspector General of Police and Diamond Bank plc, seeking nine reliefs.

The reliefs sought, among others, include a declaration that issuance, service of Notice of Meeting personally or by post on every shareholder is a condition precedent to a valid Annual or Extraordinary General Meeting of a company; a declaration that the meeting of January 6, 2015 held without service of notice of the meeting on them is null and void; and an order setting aside all resolutions, steps and decisions taken at the purported Extraordinary General meeting of Ikeja Hotels Plc of January 6, 2015.

Delivering his judgment, the judge said, ‘‘I have considered all the processes filed by the parties in this case and from the said processes the issue for determination are: whether a meeting of a public company held in contravention of the provisions of sec. 218 (3) 218(1), 220(1) and 221 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act is unlawful, null and void and without any legal consequence and whether advertising of notice of meetings in National dailies without service of personal notice suffices as notice to members of a public company under the companies and allied Matters Act, and whether a meeting help pursuant to such advertised notice and resolutions made at such
meeting is unlawful, null and void and of no legal consequence.”

“On the whole I find merit in the plaintiffs’ originating summons and therefore all the reliefs are granted.”

The judgement is the second decision in recent months dismissing the events of the meeting of January 6, 2015.

Earlier in October 2016, a Lagos high court presided by M. B. Idris, a judge, had dismissed the suit/FHC/L/CS/1956/2014 filed by Alurum & 2 others against Ikeja Hotels Plc, IHS Services Ltd and Union Registrars Ltd wherein the applicant prayed for an order of court mandating the holding of the extraordinary general meeting of January 6, 2015.

The applicant also prayed for another order deeming as valid whatever transpired at the said meeting.

The defendant’s application for an order to dismiss the suit was granted.

Ikeja hotels plc. owns and manages Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos and the Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Towers. The company also has substantial interest in the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island.

Trouble started in 2014 when Maiden Ibru, wife of Alex Ibru, the late publisher of the Guardian newspaper, was locked in court battles with her brother-in-law and elder brother to the late publisher, Goodie Ibru, over the chairmanship position of the company.

The group loyal to Mrs. Ibru had accused the Goodie Ibru-led board of being overbearing, and of ineptitude and lack of corporate governance.

Subsequently, an EGM was held where Mr. Ibru was eventually removed. In his place, the chief executive officer, Bank of Industry, Rasheed Olaoluwa, was elected the interim chairman of the company.

In his reaction while addressing a press conference in Lagos, Mr. Ibru had promised to challenge the decision in court, describing his purported removal as false and the extraordinary meeting where the decision was taken illegal and not properly convened.

Mr. Ibru, 75, founded Ikeja Hotels Plc in 1975 and opened its flagship property, the Lagos Sheraton Hotel and Towers, in 1985. The company acquired in 1992 the Tourist Company of Nigeria Plc, the holding company of the Federal Palace Hotel and Casino.

Also under Mr. Ibru’s leadership, the group acquired Capital Hotels Plc, the owner of the Abuja Sheraton Hotels and Towers.

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