On 4 November 2020, Justice Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division made an order that all parties in the action between Mrs Olubukunola George v. HealthPlus Africa Holdings Limited, Ms Afsane Jetha, Mr Zachary Ford & Ors “shall maintain status quo until the court has determined the motion for stay” pending against the Defendants.
This order was made following the attempted arrest of Mrs George in the court premises pursuant to a petition to the police by Defendant through their powerful Nigerian surrogates who are intent on taking over her life’s work. The law is clear as it is between night and day that an order of status quo means that parties are to return to the position of peaceful and peaceable relations before the action was commenced. Those state of affairs were that Mrs George was the CEO of HealthPlus Nigeria Limited. It would appear that the foreign parties with the active encouragement of their Nigerian surrogates have decided to show and continue to show their disdain and disrespect of the Nigerian judicial process.
Despite the status quo order, one of their Nigerian surrogates in the person of one Chidi Okoro, a lecturer at the Lagos Business School, on Monday 9 November 2020 (only five days after the order was made), stormed the corporate Headquarters with a contingent of mobile policemen and officers of G4S security company to take over the premises and IT infrastructure of HealthPlus Nigeria Limited. All these steps are in flagrant disregard of the authority of the Federal High Court.
Okoro, said sources, arrived at the HealthPlus headoffice in Lagos at midday on Monday. Insiders disclosed that the break-in began when Okoro, accompanied by Ernest Eguasa, appointed by Alta Semper Capital as HealthPlus’ Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in December; an IT expert and a contingent of armed policemen said to have been arranged by G4S Secure Solutions Nigeria, an unregistered private security company run by one Mike Kelleher, arrived the head office locations.
On arrival, the policemen were said to have manhandled the security men on duty because they barred them from entering the premises. They eventually forced their way in and went straight to the IT department in an attempt to seize control of the systems of the business. Staff of the IT department were, however, said to have refused to hand over the passwords.
Sources said that Chidi Okoro forced a staff to unlock her laptop. He also seized the laptop belonging to the company’s Graphic Artist. The IT expert then proceeded to hack the systems but was unsuccessful. Chidi Okoro placed the company’s Security Manager under duress, insisting that he dismisses the security officers from Prudential Guards who protect all company premises. Okoro forced the Security Manager to sign an undertaking but he refused.
Chidi Okoro and his cohorts laid siege on the premises for over six hours, leaving members of staff frightened because of the presence of seven gun wielding security officers. Staff were eventually allowed to leave. The armed policemen and staff of G4S were left behind. They also, on the orders of Okoro and Eguasa, promised to return with carpenters to change all the locks to the offices.
The forcible entry into the head office locations is in defiance of a Federal High Court ruling given last Wednesday by Justice Oguntoyinbo. Justice Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court in Lagos had ordered all parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the motion before the court. The question on everyone’s lips is, can Alta Semper act with such impunity in the United Kingdom?
The break-in is the latest episode in the equity investment dispute that erupted in September when Alta Semper Capital announced that it had terminated George and appointed Okoro as the CTO. The basis of the termination is a dud board resolution being brandished by Alta Semper. What is curious is that the company’s five-man had been decimated by resignation, with the Chairman, Dr. Ayo Salami; and another director, Deji Akinyanyu, quitting. The board also had not met for over eight months.