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N9bn contract suit: Court fixes March 25 for ruling on Oyedepo’s objection

The illegality of media publication of mug shot and public parading of suspects under Nigerian law

Justice Mohammed Yunusa of a Federal High Court, Lagos, has fixed March 25, 2015 for ruling 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 N1.86 billion from Oyedepo, his family, his book publishing company and the Winners’ Chapel for allegedly breaching agreement on a N9 billion investments entrusted to the plaintiffs.

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Also sued along with Oyedepo is the Nigerian Stock Exchange, which the plaintiff accused of being biased in its investigations into the N9 billion business dispute. The plaintiffs asked the court to declare as illegal the freezing of their bank ac- counts by NSE and to make an order to immediately unfreeze their accounts.

At the resumed hearing into the case on Monday, counsel to Oyedepo, 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.