Numerous shareholders of Jay-Jay Okocha Group West Africa Limited are mounting a fresh legal effort to enforce the judgment of a Federal High Court in Lagos issued two years ago against former international football star and ex-captain of the Super Eagles, Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, and his wife Nkechi.
Apart from Austin and Nkechi Okocha, the other defendants in this case are Jay-Jay Okocha Group West Africa, a limited liability company jointly formed by the former Super Eagles star and six other shareholders, namely Friday Nwankwo-Kuja, Ijeoma Kuja, James Nwankwo Kuja, Chinedu Nwankwo-Kuja, Daniel Chukwudi, Mary Chioma Nwankwo-Kuja, and a company, African Shelter Sports Consult Limited, also co-petitioners in the legal battle.
In the original affidavit sworn to by Friday Nwankwo-Kuja, a director and shareholder of Jay-Jay Okocha Group West Africa Limited, the petitioners claimed to be shareholders of the company which was incorporated to engage in sports promotions and to arrange, organize, finance and present sporting events. The affidavit, filed by their lawyer, Caleb Rotimi Oyekola, accused Mr. Okocha and his wife, who are chairman and managing director of the company respectively, of conducting the affairs of the company in an illegal and oppressive manner.
Mr. Nwankwo-Kuja alleged that, at the formative stage of the company located at 46 Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, he expended N63 million in the business and until 2010 diligently performed his duties as the executive director of company.
According to him, the Okochas illegally eased him out of the company when he started clamoring for an audit of the firm’s account in line with Nigeria’s corporate laws, to ascertain if the company was making profit, and to enable the company to file its annual returns to the Corporate Affairs Commission. He testified that the manner of his removal as a director in the company violated the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).
His affidavit accused the respondents of conspiring, without a valid resolution of the board of directors, to remove his properties out of his office, even though he and other petitioners were the company’s majority shareholders.
Thereafter, Mr. Okocha and his wife resisted all efforts to convene a general meeting of the company or to have the firm’s accounts audited. In their original lawsuit, the petitioners alleged that the company has never held a board meeting or general meeting since it commenced operations. The petitioners also told the court that the Okochas were on the verge of selling off Club Ten, one of the subsidiaries of the company.
The lawsuit also accused the Okochas of fraudulently forging a resolution of the board in order to change the directors of the company and to unlawfully, forcibly take took over the affairs of the company.
The original lawsuit urged the court to restrain Mr. Okocha and his wife from vandalizing or selling off the company and to order that the firm’s accounts be audited.
In his ruling, Justice Buba stated that the reliefs sought by the petitioners had merit, adding that the petitioners were the majority shareholders of the company.
Justice Buba then ruled that the defendants’ change of the company’s directors without the resolution of the Board of Directors was illegal, null and void and no effect whatsoever. In addition, he ordered the immediate auditing of the company's accounts, restrained the Okochas from managing and running the affairs of the company solely as if it were their personal property.
The judge also ordered that Mr. Friday Nwankwo-Kuja be made signatory to the account of the company, adding that the manner in which Mr. Okocha and his wife were running the affairs of the company was oppressive to the petitioners. Justice Buba also awarded costs of N20, 000 against the respondents.
A lawyer to the plaintiffs told SaharaReporters that the Okochas neither filed any defense to the lawsuit nor have they obeyed it. “My clients are going to set the machinery in place to enforce the judgment that Mr. and Mrs. Okocha have continued to disobey and treat with mockery,” he said.