Law News
Court decides Oyedepo’s objection to stockbroker’s N9bn suit

A Federal High Court in Lagos has slated March 25, 2015 to rule on the preliminary objection filed by the Founder, Living Faith Church, a.k.a. Winners’ Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, against a suit accusing him of breach of contract.

The suit was instituted by a stock brokerage firm, Valueline Securities and Investment Limited and its Managing Director, Samuel Enyinnaya.

The plaintiffs are seeking, among others, monetary claims in the sum of about N1.86bn from Oyedepo, his family, his book publishing company and the Winners’ Chapel for allegedly breaching agreement on a N9bn investment entrusted to the plaintiffs.

Also sued along with Oyedepo is the Nigerian Stock Exchange, which the plaintiff accused of being biased in its investigations into the N9bn business dispute.

The plaintiffs asked the court to declare as illegal, the freezing of their bank accounts by NSE and to make an order to immediately unfreeze their accounts.

At the resumed hearing into the case on Monday, counsel for Oyedepo, Mr. Chioma Okwuanyi, brought to the court’s notice his client’s preliminary objection to the stockbroker’s claims.

In the three grounds of objection, Okwuanyi contended that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate on a matter pertaining to capital market.

According to him, by the provisions of Section 34 of the Investment and Securities Act, only the Investment and Securities Tribunal had the vested authority to entertain a dispute between a capital market operator and his client.

Okwuanyi further submitted that if it was true, as the plaintiffs had said, that the matter was “a simple contract” bordering on investment portfolio management, the state High Court and not the Federal High Court had jurisdiction on the case.

Besides, the lawyer argued that the plaintiffs’ suit as presently constituted before Justice Mohammed Yunusa was premature, as the plaintiff had yet to explore all the avenues laid down to resolve such dispute before heading for the court.

“My Lord, what we are saying is that, going by the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs, they have said that this issue is a simple contract relating to investment portfolio management and our contention is that issues of simple contracts are never within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

“Also, going by the Clause 14 of the Investment Management Agreement, this matter as presently constituted is premature in that what clause 14 prescribed is that parties would resort to arbitration to resolve all disputes.

“My Lord, Section 251 of the Constitution does not donate jurisdiction to this court in respect of capital market. We therefore urge your Lordship to uphold our objection and to strike out this suit or refer the case to the Investment and Securities Tribunal or to arbitration,” Okwuanyi submitted.

On his own, counsel for the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Mr. M.O. Liadi, argued that the plaintiffs ought to have approached the NSE Council to ventilate their grievances rather than coming before the Federal High Court.

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