The ownership tussle of the Sheraton Lagos Hotel and Towers and its owning company, Ikeja Hotels Plc, deepened on Tuesday, as different members of the Ibru family moved to assert authority.
While a group led by Maiden Ibru, widow of the late Guardian publisher, Alex Ibru, moved to hold an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EGM), Goodie Ibru, the hotel chairman, described the purported meeting as null and void.
Maiden had published an EGM notice of Ikeja Hotels Plc in the Guardian and Punch Newspapers of December 1, 2014, 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 at Sheraton Hotel on January 6, 2015.
But the other members of the Ibru family, led by Goodie, got an ex parte injunction from the federal high court, Abuja, restraining Ibru from calling an EGM or representing her late husband’s investment vehicles holding shares in Ikeja Hotels Plc.
Goodie’s group said that their ex parte motion was sequel to a bitter litigation between the children of his first wife, Helen Ibru, and Maiden, his second wife.
On Tuesday, some shareholders of the hotel defied a federal high court order to sack Goddie as chairman and director of the company, citing corporate governance infractions.
The shareholders unanimously approved the sack of Ibru at an alleged EGM in Lagos and appointed Olumide Braithwaite and Tunde Sarumi as new 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 Rasheed Olaoluwa, the managing director, Bank of Industry (BOI), also a shareholder in the hotel.
The meeting held amid 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.
Adeleke Adebayo, the general secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, described the development as an abuse of court process, accusing Ibru of conniving with the management to lock the gate against the shareholders.
“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 said.
“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.”
On his part, Shehu Mikail, the national president, Constance Shareholders Association of Nigeria, blamed the judiciary for the development.
Mikail said that there was 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.