Nigeria: $47m Debt – Court Dismisses Shoprite’s Request to Vacate Order Stopping It From Leaving Nigeria

A Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed an application seeking to discharge an ex parte order stopping one of the largest retailing stores in Nigeria, Shoprite Checker (PYT) from leaving Nigeria over alleged $47 million debt.

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa dismissed the application yesterday while delivering a ruling in an application filed by Shoprite Checker (PYT).

Justice Mohammed Liman (before he was posted out of Lagos) had on August 17, 2020, granted the ex parte application filed and argued by Professor Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), counsel to A.I.C. Limited in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/881/2020.

Others listed as second to fourth respondents were Retail Supermarket Nigeria Limited, The Registrar of Trademarks, and the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP).

In the Application, A.I.C. Limited had asked the court for an order restraining Shoprite Checker (PTY), 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 also prayed 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 the purchase of merchandise within the jurisdiction of the court.

It further asked for an order of the court mandating the Retail Supermarket Nigeria Limited, to disclose its Audited Financial Statements for the years ending 2018 and 2019, to enable it to determine the amount of the 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.

Besides, A.I.C Limited 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 and 10 per cent post-judgement interest per annum of the subsisting valid judgment debt.

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 granted the application after listening to the submissions of Prof. Osipitan, SAN on the exparte application and affidavit in support, deposed to by one Joshua Oluwagbemiga Akinyemi.

Dissatisfied, ShopRite Checker (PYT) Limited approached the court with an application to set aside and discharge the order.

But, in his ruling, Justice Lewis-Allagoa described Shoprite’s application as ‘lacking in merit, abuse of court processes and dismissed same accordingly.

Justice Lewis-Allagoa also gave Shoprite Checker (PYT) Limited 14 days, to comply with the previous orders made by Justice Liman. The suit was adjourned till July 14.

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