Global West vessel specialist owners in legal battle over company shares
by AMAKA ANAGOR
May 23, 2018 | 12:18 am| | | Start Conversation
The family of late Romeo Itima, pioneer managing director of Global West Vessel Specialist Limited (GWVSL), a maritime security company has dragged Winfred Itima, the current managing director, to court over allegations of financial mismanagement and unprofessional conducts.
The late Romeo died on August 7th, 2012 in Escravos, Delta State, where he was reported to have fallen off a boat and drowned. Winfred, who is the closest family member to the late Romeo, allegedly took control of his companies shortly after his death.
As a result, the deceased family led by Helen Itima, wife of late Romeo and two of her children, sued Winfred alongside other directors, Oluwagbenga Leke Oyewole, former senior special assistant to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan on Maritime Matters and Olabisi Idowu Afolabi,
The suit designated: FHC/CS/1123/2017 was filed before Justice Babs Kuemi of the Federal High Court, Lagos. The preliminary hearing took place on Wednesday May 16,2018 after which the case was adjourned to June 26, 2018.
In the suit, the plaintiffs claimed that late Romeo established the company in Nigeria in 2009 to combat piracy and associated crimes plaguing Nigeria’s territorial waters.
To them, the company was his way of contributing to salvaging Nigeria’s maritime security domain by using his wealth of experience as a master mariner from the United States of America to develop Nigeria.
According to the deceased family’s statement of claim, Winfred, their father’s sibling, allegedly took-over the management of GWVSL and Molecular Power Systems Limited, and has refused to give account of the finances of the two companies to the family till date.
They also claimed that the actions of their uncle were clear breach of filial affection, trust, care and confidence their late father reposed in him, after the late Romeo allegedly sponsored Winifred training in the US before returning to Nigeria to join GWVSL.
The plaintiff also alleged that Winfred, who was not a director at the time late Romeo died, made himself the managing director of GWVSL without due consultation and approvals.
The further alleged that Winfred unlawfully allotted to himself 6,000,000 ordinary shares of Molecular Power Systems Limited without recourse to the pioneer shareholders including the deceased wife, who is an administrator of the late husband’s estate.
They accused Winfred reducing the late Romeo’s shares of 2,000,000 to 300,000 while he became the highest shareholder in the company. The employment of Zion Itima, the eldest son of late Romeo at GWVSL, was also terminated.
The family further claimed that the accused took away loads of documents that were in possession of the deceased Romeo immediately after his death and prevented the family from having access to them.
Late Romeo, they said, through GWVSL executed many contracts running into several millions of naira for the Nigeria Maritime and Safety Administration Agency (NIMASA), most of which were not paid for before his demise and has remained unaccounted for till date.
In the suit, the deceased family asked the court to compel Winfred, the accused, to produce all contracts entered by late Romeo with NIMASA before he died and payments made by NIMASA till date, including the list of vessels the company acquired, which now form part of the fleet owned by the company.
They also pleaded with the court to order a general meeting of all pioneer stakeholders to re-allot shares and appoint legitimate directors as well as declare unlawful the restructuring and allotting of shares to late Romeo after his death, void.
According to them, the court should direct a complete audit of GWVSL by reputable independent auditors from 7th August 2012 till date including its dealings with Molecular Power Systems Ltd.
They further begged the court to compel Winfred to give a detailed account of all the assets including vessels purchased under the Private Public Partnership (PPP) Agreement between Late Romeo and NIMASA as well as sale of vessels and other properties.
They also asked the court to order the removal of Winfred from the GWVSL Board of Directors, and immediate forfeiture of the shares he and his ally, Olabisi Afolabi unlawfully acquired as directors.
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