Port Harcourt — The Federal High Court in Abuja has sentenced the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE, Mr Alex Oko, to 30 days imprisonment for allegedly disobeying court order in implementing the Share Purchase Agreement on the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria, ALSCON.
Justice Anwuri Chikere of Federal High Court 4, Maitama, Abuja, who gave the order, accused Mr Okoh of “serial disobedience” of the the Supreme Court judgment on June 6, 2012, which pronounced Bancorp Financial Investment Group, BFIG, the true owner of ALSCON.
Justice Chikere ruled that the defendant be jailed for 30 days to the same degree ensuring that the SPA is implemented by BPE as ordered by the Supreme Court to include all annexures.
But, the BPE said it has filed a motion for stay of execution and appeal against the Federal High Court judgment against it and Mr. Okoh.
Speaking exclusively to our correspondent, Counsel to BFIG Corporation, Chief Patrick Ikwueto, SAN, Mr Ikwueto said the implication of the latest ruling is that the BPE boss will be remanded in prison for 30 days until he purges himself of disobedience and complies with the Supreme Court order.
“The Supreme Court judgement had rule that BPE should implement the mutually agreed SPA, which has not happened, even with the reaffirmation by the Court of Appeal.
“So they, BPE, now gave us a SPA without the annexures referred to in the SPA by the Supreme Court.
“We made the point that the annexures were part of the SPA because the annexures were referred to in the SPA. For instance, one of the annexures is the company operated account which forms the basis of the whole SPA.
“Now BPE said they won’t give us the annexures, and we insisted that they cannot give us an incomplete agreement and claimed they’ve gotten us the agreement.
“So we exchanged several letters with BPE and we now issued Form 48 and Form 49 that BPE was disobeying court order, that is what was argued in the court and the Judge agreed that the annexures are part of the SPA and if you give the SPA without the annexures referred to in the SPA, then it is incomplete and disobedience to the order of the court.
“That’s is why the court ordered that the DG of BPE be remanded in prison custody for 30 days until he purges himself of the contempt by complying with the orders of the supreme Court.”
Ikwueto explained that the SPA ordered by the Supreme Court was accompanied with annexures classified by Section 19.1, including a financial statement of ALSCON for the year ended December 31, 2004; ALSCON Post-Acquisition Plan; List of Liabilities of ALSCON; List of Facilities of ALSCON; List of land Plots of ALSCON; List of Compensation Scheme of Employees of ALSCON, and List of Employee Benefit of ALSCON.
Others include: List of Intellectual Property of ALSCON; List of Material Contracts of ALSCON; List of Banks of ALSCON; List of Government Authorities of ALSCON of ALSCON; Exhibit No. 1: Natural Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement; Exhibit 3: Federal Republic of Nigeria Officials Gazette, and Exhibit 4: Power of Attorney.
ALSCON a $3.2billion aluminium plant located in Ibekwe, Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, was incorporated in 1989, and began operations in 1997 but was shut down in 1999 due to lack of working capital, while it was privatised in 2007 as part of the Federal Government’s drive to revive moribund national assets.
But since 2004, there has been a protracted litigation between BFIG Corporation and BPE challenging the bid process, regarding the enforcement and crystallization of the mutually agreed Share Purchase Agreement, SPA.
The matter was adjudicated at various courts and on June 6, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of BFIG Corporation as the preferred bidder, but BPE has not complied with the Supreme Court decision but pitched its tent with another bidder, a Russian firm known as UC Rusal.
BFIG Corporation went back to the Federal High Court in Abuja court to commit BPE and its Director General, Alex Okoh, for contempt of court over failure to implement the June 6th, 2012 judgment of the Supreme Court on ALSCON, which the court, has ruled in its favour.