Court Halts Shoprite’s Move To Exit Nigeria Over Alleged $47M Debt  

 

 

Story By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi

 

The Proposed move by the promoters of the largest retailing store in Nigeria, Shoprite Checker (PYT) to quit the country or have its assets, both movable and immovable, dissipated, has been halted by a Lagos Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

The proposed move by Shoprite Checker’s promoters met a brick wall following an exparte order granted  by Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court consequent upon  an exparte application filed by  a limited liability company, A.I.C. Limited, in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/881/2020, against the largest retailing store and three others.

Others listed in the exparte application alongside Shoprite Checker (PTY) Limited over alleged debt are: Retail Supermarket Nigeria Limited, The Registrar of Trademarks and National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP).

A.I.C. Limited through its lawyer, Professor Taiwo Oshinpitan (SAN) had approached the court through an exparte application for an order of Mareva Injunction restraining Shoprite Checker (PTY), described as a Judgment Debtor, its privies, officers, nominees, successors-in-title, subsidiaries or anyone acting through it or by it from transferring, assigning, charging, disposing of its trademark, franchise and intellectual property in a manner that will alter, dissipate or remove these non cash assets from the court’s jurisdiction.

The applicant, who claim to be the judgement creditor, also asked the court for an order of Mareva injunction restraining Shoprite Checkers (PYT) its privies, officers, nominees, successors-in-title, subsidiaries or anyone acting through it or by it from transferring, assigning, charging, disposing of its other assets including but not limited to trade receivables, trade payables, payment for purchase of merchandise within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court.

It also asked the court for an order of Mareva Injunction restraining Shoprite Checker, its privies, officers, nominees, successors-in-title, subsidiaries or anyone acting through it or by it from transferring, assigning, charging, disposing of its other assets including but not limited to trade receivables, trade payables, payment for purchase of merchandise within the jurisdiction of the Court.

The application according to AIC is to prevent a situation that would  render the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Suit No. CA/L/288/2018 nugatory or the anticipated judgment from the Supreme Court in the appeal filed by the Judgment Creditor/ Applicant judgment proof.

The applicant also requested for an order restraining Retail Supermarket Nigeria Limited, from making any financial payments whether by itself, privies, officers, nominees, successors-in-title, subsidiaries or anyone acting through it or by it to Shoprite Checker under the Administration and Technical Services Agreement between  Shoprite and it, in order not to render the Judgment of the Court of Appeal in Suit No: CA/L/288/2018 nugatory or the anticipated judgment from the Supreme Court in the appeal filed by it.

It further asked for an order of the court compelling and mandating the Retail Supermarket Nigeria Limited, to disclose its Audited Financial Statements for the years ending 2018 and 2019 to enable it determine the amount of  Shoprite Checker’s funds in its custody in order to preserve same in satisfaction of the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Appeal No: CA/L/288/2018.

A.I.C Limited also asked the court to restrain the Registrar of Trademarks, from recognising any sale or assignment of any trademark, franchise of whatever kind reflecting any transaction by either Shoprite Checker or the Retail Supermarket Nigeria Limited, in connection with the corporate existence or approving any pending royalty(ies), interest, management fee, trade payment for the Shoprite Checker Limited, of the anticipated judgment turn,  but not less than $12.4 million US Dollars and 10% post judgement interest per annum of the subsisting valid judgment debt.

The applicant also asked the court for an Order compelling and mandating the fourth Respondent (NOTAP) to disclose all pending requests by the Respondent for accrued payment in favour of Shoprite Checker, to be remitted outside Nigeria. And an order directing Shoprite Checker and Retail Supermarket Nigeria Limited, to maintain the status quo by preserving the terms of the Administration and Technical Services Agreement in order not to render the judgment of the Court of Appeal in  Suit No. Appeal No: CA/L/288/2018, nugatory.

A.I.C. limited equally asked for an order directing the second respondent to file an affidavit to show compliance with the Court’s Orders, within seven days of service of orders.

Justice Liman, after listening to the submissions of  Oshinpintan (SAN) on the exparte application and affidavit in support, deposed to by one Joshua Oluwagbemiga Akinyemi, granted  the reliefs sought by A.I.C. Limited against Shoprite Checker (PYT) Limited and other respondent.

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