Justice Jude Dagat of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday struck out a N1.86 billion suit, instituted against the founder of the Living Faith Church (a.k.a. Winners’ Chapel) Bishop David Oyedepo and ten others, by a stock brokerage firm, Valueline Securities and Investment Limited for abuse of court process.
Justice Jude Dagat, who dismissed the suit while ruling on a preliminary objection filed by the defendants, held that the plaintiffs’ suit is incompetent and that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it.
The court also held that the plaintiffs failed to fulfill the conditions precedent set by the law before filing the suit.
Valueline Securities and Investment Limited and its Managing Director, Samuel Enyinnaya, had in February 2015 dragged Oyedepo others before the court alleging breach of contract in a N9bn stock market deal.
The plaintiffs, in the rights enforcement suit claimed a total of N1.86bn from the defendants jointly and severally as professional fees and damages.
Others joined in the suit alongside the clergy were his wife, Abiola; his children and blood relatives, Priscillia, Jesutobi, Makinde and Isaac, as well as his book publishing firm.
Also named in the suit were the World Mission Agency Inc, which is the overall ruling organ of the Winners’ Chapel; Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State; and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
The plaintiffs, in their statement of claim, averred that Oyedepo, his family and organisations entered into an Investment Portfolio Management Agreement with them and appointed them as the portfolio managers to oversee and to ensure the profitability of the said investment worth about N9bn in the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
According to the plaintiffs, it was agreed that 2.25 per cent of the net asset value of the portfolio and an annual incentive fee of 10 per cent of the returns on the investment would be paid to the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs said that in order to enhance the profitability of the investment, they obtained some margin loans from some Nigerian banks, which, they claimed, turned out to be a great boost to the investment.
They however said trouble started “when Oyedepo wanted to buy his first private jet and the World Mission Agency Inc ordered the sale of majority of the securities in the investment portfolio, and that despite the professional advice to the contrary, the plaintiffs were made to sell the securities to raise the N3bn needed to buy the jet, a development which brought about huge losses to the investment.”
According to the plaintiffs, following the said sale of the securities coupled with the global economic meltdown which caused stock market across the globe to crash at the time, the N9bn investment recorded losses.
The plaintiffs, however, alleged that in a bid to avoid their financial obligations to the plaintiffs, Oyedepo and his organisations accused them of fraud and mismanagement and wrote a petition against them to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
They however claimed that the EFCC found the them innocent after six years of investigation after which Oyedepo further dragged them before the NSE