The end seems not to be in sight over the ownership tussle of the Sheraton Lagos Hotel and Towers and its owning company, Ikeja Hotels Plc. The fight took a new dimension on Tuas different members of the Ibru family moved to assert authority.
While a group led by Mrs Maiden Ibru, widow of late Guardian Publisher, Mr Alex Ibru, moved to hold an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EGM), Mr Goodie Ibru, the hotel Chairman, described the purported meeting as null and void.
Mrs Ibru had earlier on Dec. 1, 2014 published an EGM notice of Ikeja Hotels Plc in the Guardian and Punch Newspapers, in an apparent bid to overhaul the company.
Her notice of EGM followed an earlier court order arising from an ex parte motion forcing the company to hold the meeting, on Jan. 6, 2015 at the Sheraton Hotel.
On the other hand, the other members of the Ibru family, led by Goodie Ibru, got an ex parte injunction from the Federal High Court, Abuja, restraining Mrs Ibru from calling an EGM or representing her late husband’s investment vehicles holding shares in Ikeja Hotels Plc.
Goodie Ibru’s group said that their ex parte motion was sequel to a bitter litigation between the children of his first wife, Mrs Helen Ibru, and Mrs Maiden, his second wife.
But in a swift development, some shareholders of the hotel, against a federal high court order, on Tuesday sacked Goddie Ibru, as the chairman and director of the company, over corporate governance infractions.
The shareholders unanimously approved the sack of Ibru at an alleged EGM in Lagos.
The shareholders also appointed Mr Olumide Braithwaite and Mr Tunde Sarumi, as directors of the company.
They also appointed KPMG Nigeria Ltd to carry out a forensic audit of the management of the company from 1999 to 2014, when Ibru was its chairman.
The shareholders also mandated KPMG to carry out a forensic audit of the share register and verification of the funding and payment for the shares of the company by holders, directly or indirectly amounting to two per cent or more.
The meeting was presided over by an interim Chairman appointed by the shareholders, Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa, the Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BOI), also a shareholder in the hotel.
The meeting was held amidst drama as the shareholders were barred from entering the premises of Sheraton Hotels following a court injunction granted Ibru by the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Mr Boniface Okezie, President, Progressive Shareholders of Nigeria, told NAN that the shareholders were on a rescue mission to ensure good corporate governance and avoid the collapse of the company.
Okezie said that the shareholders would defy the barricades at the gate and pass all the resolutions.
“We are rescuing this company from the hands of the cabals. We are legally authorised to hold this meeting.
“The regulators have failed us; let them come and see what is happening. We want to remove the virus that is eating deep into this company.
“Whatever it takes, we must restore this company from the hands of the cabals,” Okezie said.
Mr Adeleke Adebayo, General Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, described the development as an abuse of court process.
Adebayo said that it was unfortunate that “somebody will leave Lagos where the first order was given, where the business is and where all the directors are resident and go to Abuja to get an injunction.”
He accused Ibru of abusing the privilege of being part of the management to lock the gate against the shareholders.
“I think it’s an assault for a tenant to lock out the landlord; we are the real owners of the business.
“He is a tenant, we hired him and we are paying him,” Adeleke said.
He said that “frustrations on the part of shareholders that they have not gotten commensurate value for their investment for so long has triggered this incident.”
Mr Shehu Mikail, National President, Constance Shareholders Association of Nigeria, blamed the judiciary for the development.
Mikail stressed the need for synergy among judiciary workers, in the interest of the economy and the country as a whole.
He said that an Abuja High Court could not have granted an injunction to a meeting approved by the Lagos High Court, if the nation’s judiciary system was sound.
Mikail said that “we want a better management that will protect the interest of minority shareholders, so that we will start receiving dividends.”