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NCC, ALTON To Discuss Broadband Challenges At NITRA’s Forum

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All is now set for the Fourth and last in the series of this year’s Nigeria Information Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA) Quarterly Forum billed for December 14, 2018, at the CitiHeight Hotel, Opebi Link, Ikeja, Lagos.

NITRA, under the supervision of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, is an umbrella body for journalists reporting information and communications technology in Nigeria.

In collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), NITRA promises to address the challenges of broadband, especially with last mile connectivity, at this fourth quarter forum.

The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta is the keynote speaker at the event expected to draw the largest gathering of ICT industry players under one roof.

Themed: “Achieving Last Mile Connectivity Through Affordable Broadband,” the forum will not only highlight the opportunities and challenges of deploying affordable broadband in Nigeria but will look at the strategies being adopted by the NCC to achieve this.

Experts argue that in order to address Nigeria’s last mile connectivity, it’s important that the Government creates incentives that would encourage telcos to invest in connectivity in rural areas and other less profitable regions.

Achieving last mile connectivity in Nigeria, therefore, requires a concerted effort among Government, Civil Society Organizations, Policy makers, mobile operators, service providers, academia etc. It also requires a combination of solutions ranging from policies to technologies, transparency to regulations etc.

It would be recall that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had in 2016, rolled out an 8-point agenda aimed at broadband access and penetration. Through the agenda, the NCC hopes to promote deployment of universally available, fast and reliable network infrastructure that will stimulate seamless broadband penetration to drive technology innovation and overall productivity of Nigeria’s economy.

In the last two years, NITRA has through the Quarterly forum engaged ICT stakeholders to brainstorm on various topical issues affecting the ICT industry in Nigeria.

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Forfeiture Claim on Airtel Shares False- Subsidiary of Ecobank Group

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O&O Networks Limited, Special purpose vehicle owned by the Ecobank Group has said that contrary to certain media reports, there is no forfeiture order of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in its proceedings that is directed against Ecobank Transnational Incorporate (ETI) or Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

 

O&O Networks Limited is defending long-standing proceedings in the Federal High Court relating to its ownership of shares in Airtel Networks Limited that were once owned by it.

 

The company previously owned by Oceanic Bank, formed part of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated’s (ETI) in 2011 after the acquisition of Oceanic Bank. Legal proceedings were first initiated against O&O Networks Ltd in December 2006 by Broad Communications Ltd (“plaintiff”), in the Federal High Court of Nigeria.

 

A statement released by O&O Networks, pointed out that there is no forfeiture order of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in these proceedings that is directed against ETI or Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

 

According to the statement, there have been no material legal developments in the plaintiff’s substantive claim for monetary compensation since 2017, though a trial date on the substantive merits was recently fixed for May 28, 2019.

 

The statement reads: “Contrary to certain press reports, there is no forfeiture order of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in these proceedings that is directed against ETI or Ecobank Nigeria Limited, and neither ETI nor Ecobank Nigeria Limited has made or is required by law to make any payment to the Federal High Court of Nigeria in relation to this long-standing litigation. There have been no material legal developments in the plaintiff’s substantive claim for monetary compensation since 2017.

 

“In 2006, the plaintiff’s claim was grounded on an alleged right of first refusal over shares in Airtel Networks Limited that O&O Networks owned. The plaintiff claimed ownership of the Airtel shares based on its right of first refusal. In 2017, the plaintiff amended its claim to seek monetary compensation of USD equivalent of Naira 10 billion (approximately US$28 million) in place of its claim of ownership of the Airtel share.

 

” Since the matter was filed in 2006, it has not proceeded to trial on the substantive merits of the claim to date though a trial date on the substantive merits was recently fixed for May 28, 2019.

 

“In August 2018, O & O Networks sold its shares in Airtel Networks Limited for Naira 22.5 billion (approximately US$62.5 million) with the permission of the Federal High Court on 7 June 2018 and subsequently in September 2018, the plaintiff filed an interlocutory application requesting the Federal High Court of Nigeria to grant an order directing O&O Networks to place Naira 22.5 billion (approximately US$62 million) – the entire proceeds of the sale of the Airtel shares and an amount which is significantly in excess of the plaintiff’s total monetary claim – into an escrow account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the court, pending the final determination of the substantive claim. The Federal High Court of Nigeria granted the plaintiff’s interlocutory application on 7 March, 2019.

 

“O&O Networks has filed a notice of appeal and an application for stay of execution to this ruling. O&O Network’s appeal to the interlocutory order is currently pending, and it intends to prosecute the appeal vigorously.

 

“O & O Networks Limited believes the substantive claim of the plaintiff is without merit and will continue to vigorously defend all proceedings – interlocutory and substantive – in relation to the plaintiff’s long-standing claim.”

 

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Otunuga Tasks Buhari on Economic Growth

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Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at Forex Time, an award-winning international forex broker, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to use this new four years given to him to bring about change that will elevate Nigeria to the world stage.

 

Speaking at a media briefing in Lagos, Otunuga said “now that the current government has secured another four years, it does suggests continuity and what I’ll be looking for is if in this four years we could see change that will be able to quickly elevate Nigeria to the world stage”.

 

According to him, “now that that Presidential Buhari has secured another four years in office, will he use these four years to elevate Nigeria higher?

 

“So that’s the main thing I’m looking forward to right now, the current government has secured another four years, this does suggest continuity and what I’ll be looking for is if in this four years we could see change that will be able to quickly elevator Nigeria to the world stage.”

 

Giving insight to key factors that is going to driving global markets and impact on the Nigerian economy, Otunuga said that although US-China trade developments is not happening in Nigeria but the outcome will have significant impact the Nigerian economy.

 

He noted that any breakdown in the ongoing negotiations between US-China would create risk aversion for emerging markets like Nigeria.

 

“US-China trade developments, although it’s not happening in Nigeria but will have a significant impact on  the Nigerian economy.

 

“Yes there’s a sense of optimism right now over United States and China securing their trade bill but we’ve seen this many times where both nations are very close to securing something but at the last minute everything seems to fall apart.

 

“Now if this happens again this would create risk aversion and risk aversion is nectar for emerging markets and Nigeria is an emerging market.

 

“We’ve already seen that the US China trade developments have already impacted both the United States and China

 

Speaking about other geopolitical risk factors that could have significant impact on Nigerian economy, Otunuga said that “although Brexit when we look at it on the surface, may look like it may not have any impact in Nigeria but looking deeper into the matter and you will realize that some FDI’s from the UK actually comes to Nigeria so if UK exits out of the European Union it naturally will negatively impact foreign direct investment from the UK to Nigeria.

 

 

 

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Court Faults Bharti Airtel Purchase of Airtel Nigeria Shares from Ecobank

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Federal High Court in Lagos has ruled that Bharti Airtel’s purchase of Airtel Nigeria shares from Ecobank in 2018 was contemptuous and amounted to a flagrant disobedience of a court order.

 

The said shares have been the main issue in the protracted dispute between Dr. Oba Otudeko and O & O Networks Limited (a Special Purpose Vehicle owned by Ecobank Transnational Incorporated) and were indeed subject to an order of the court in 2015 that prohibited parties from transferring or selling the shares.

 

However, in deliberate disregard of the order, Bharti Airtel purchased the shares from O & O and being previously aware of the dispute and court orders on these shares, extracted an indemnity from O & O against exposure to any liability. In the ruling, the Federal High Court also ordered O & O to pay the sum of N22.5Billion, being the proceeds of the wrongful sale of the shares into the Court’s account.

 

It would be recalled that Dr. Oba Otudeko and Broad Communications Ltd, had instituted a legal action in 2006 challenging Delta State Government’s acquisition of O & O network’s shares in Airtel Networks (formerly Econet Wireless Nigeria).

 

From the facts of the case, Broad Communication’s main contention is that the transaction was unlawful, and a breach of the Shareholders’ Agreement executed by the shareholders of Airtel Networks.

 

According to the said Shareholder’s Agreement, the shares should have been offered to the existing shareholders first, before they were sold to Delta State Government given the right of “First Refusal” (pre-emptive right). Following the institution of the suit, O & O Networks purportedly bought back the disputed shares from Delta State Government.

 

Beneficial ownership of the Airtel shares was subsequently transferred to Oceanic Bank, which is now owned by Ecobank Transnational Incorporated. In 2015, following the receipt of information that the disputed shares were being offered for sale, Broad Communications published a “Buyer Beware” notice on the disputed shares. In February 2015, Justice Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Lagos also gave an order in favour of Broad Communications restraining all parties from dealing or tampering with the shares in the custody of Ecobank.

 

The recent ruling seeks to return parties to the status quo and underscores the sanctity of court orders which must be obeyed. Indeed, the judge in her ruling stated that “no matter how stupid the order of court is, it must be obeyed until set aside by the court or a superior court…”

 

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