Nigeria’s Media Mogul, Nduka Obaigbena Banned As Director In UK
Nigeria’s flamboyant media mogul and founder of ThisDay/Arise News Group, Prince Nduka Obaigbena has been disqualified by a United Kingdom court for seven years as a director due to the compulsory liquidation of Arise Networks Ltd, caused by funding and financial difficulties related to the news channel’s operations.
According to the Judgment handed on 8 April, 2021 by the High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, it was revealed that as of 31 December, 2013 the company’s liabilities were “Losses of £3,854,112; trade and expense debts of £1,545,883; related company debts of £3,094,260.”
The application for a disqualification order filed under Section 6 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 (‘the CDDA 1986’) and arose from the compulsory liquidation of Arise Networks Ltd of which Obaigbena was the sole director since its incorporation on October 30, 2012.
It disclosed that Arise came under increasing creditor pressure from late 2014 onwards in respect of increasing arrears due to creditors as a consequence of the company’s inability to pay its debts when due, as demonstrated by the evidence of creditor actions and demands for payment.
The reports revealed that Arise Networks Limited had “£nil turnover throughout its trading existence and was wholly dependent on funds being provided by associated businesses in Nigeria.
“By 31 December 2013, the company’s liabilities were: Losses of £3,854,112; trade and expense debts of £1,545,883; related company debts of £3,094,260.
“In September 2014, the Nigerian Government introduced stringent exchange controls preventing the free-flow of currency from the country and seriously restricting the ability to transfer necessary funding to ARISE.
“As a consequence, by 31 December 2014, the company’s liabilities were: Losses of £12,922,174; trade and expense debts of £3,737,445; related company debts of £14,407,929.
“By 31 December 2015, the company’s liabilities were: Losses of £24,913,106; trade and expense debts of £5,636,596; related company debts of £19,681,779.
“By 22 April 2016, the company’s liabilities were: Losses of £25,671,167; trade and expense debts of £5,850,730; related company debts of £20,313,691.”
The report added that despite some payments made, large sums were outstanding, citing that there was evidence that many creditors had been chasing sums outstanding to them for some time, which contradicted Obaigbena’s assertion that agreements had been reached with creditors.
With employees not being paid for months, many stopped going to work and arrears kept piling up.
The court noted that despite Obaigbena’s efforts to clear some payments, there were still large sums that remained outstanding. With no certainty of when any of the payments would be made, the court took into account that it did not consider the case one of dishonesty but rather unreliability.
“However, this does not mean that the case is any less serious. The public interest is served in this case, in my judgment by disqualifying Obaigbena for a period of 7 years,” the judgement read.