V-Mobile claims victory, but confusion reigns

9 Nov 2004

The long-running battle between South Africa-based Econet Wireless International (EWI) and Nigerian operation V-Mobile (formerly Econet Wireless Nigeria) took another strange turn yesterday when the latter released a press statement claiming that the Nigerian High Court had ruled in its favour. V-Mobile says that chief judge Roseline Ukeje has decreed that ‘the plaintiff’s claim fails for incompetence on the grounds that its application for injunction is not predicated on a substantive suit, it therefore fails for lack of cause of action’. However, the statement fails to confirm whether the ruling relates to the specific injunction brought forth by EWI seeking to force V-Mobile to reverse all the decisions taken by the company since October 2003, pending the outcome of a shareholder dispute triggered as a result of a bid to take over the Nigerian company by Vodacom SA. EWI contends that it had preferential rights to the shares offered to Vodacom and has taken the matter to arbitration at the UN. However, V-Mobile’s shareholders are of the opinion that the Nigerian courts have jurisdiction in the case and have called upon the High Court to appoint its own arbitrator, as provided under the Shareholders’ Agreement and the Arbitration Act.

Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria