Brothers battle for control of Lekki British International School


The Idehen brothers, children of Dr Abiodun Laja, the founder of Lekki British International Schools, have dragged each other to court over the control of the school, two years after their mum died.

Francis Idehen filed a petition at the Federal High Court in Lagos against Christian Idehen, his brother.

Francis wants the court to determine how the school should be managed.

Joined as respondents, in the suit are Christian Idehen’s wife, Olufunke, Lekki British International High School Limited, Lekki British Junior School Limited and Lekki Educational Limited.

The affidavit in support of the petition was filed by a Lagos lawyer, Dapo Oduwole.

Dr Abiodun Laja who founded the schools died intestate on 26 May, 2019.

Before her death, she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Schools.

Under her, the management, organisational structure of the schools were not in dispute as the schools ran smoothly.

Upon her death, Francis and Christian became the only shareholders and directors of the schools and both were abroad at the time of her death.

Lawyer Abolanle Abdul-Salam, who deposed to the affidavit, on behalf of Francis, to avers that after the death of Dr. Laja, Christian Idehen unilaterally made the decision to relocate his family to Nigeria and immediately took over the running of the schools.

He equally appointed himself as the defacto Chief Executive Officer without informing or conferring with his brother and against the brother’s express objection.

According to the deponent, prior to her death, Dr Laja mandated Francis as a lawyer to look for international investors who will run the school after her retirement, as her two children have no requisite experience or qualifications to run an educational institutions or a business the size of the schools without proper structures and process constituted.

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When the mother died, the petitioner, Francis requested for a meeting of Board of Directors of the schools to discuss the implementation of appropriate legal framework to regulate the governance and the affairs of the schools.

He also requested, that he and Christian apply for letter of administration at the Lagos high court to legally administer the estate of their mother particularly as it relates to her majority shares in the schools.

However, Christian refused to accede to any of his requests despite his several visits to Nigeria.

Rather Christian has continued to run the companies without regard to him and the board of Governors.

To further complicate matters, Christian carved a role for his wife, Olufunke, who is neither a director, nor shareholder or employee or agent of the schools.

In the affidavit filed, Francis says Christian has continued to utilize Olufunke as an officer of the schools against his objection.

Christian Idehen also refuses to work with his appointed Attorney who represents his interest, and has since been running the schools in an autocratic and dictatorial manner with his wife.

The petitioner alleges further that Christian has refused to render accounts of all expenditure made by him without his knowledge or consent despite repeated demands to do so.

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“Consequently, the aggressive, autocratic and authoritarian managerial style of Christian and his wife have led to a toxic and hostile work environment that if left unrestrained, could constitute an existential threat to the on going concern of the Schools,” the affidavit reads.

Francis urges the court to restrain Christian Idehen from parading himself as the Chief Executive Officer of the schools.

He also wants the court appoint Board of Governors as interim administrators of the Schools with exclusive control over their affairs, including the bank accounts, cash and any other assets pending the hearing and final determination of the substantive suit.

Based on an affidavit sworn to by a legal practitioner, Mr Dapo Oduwole filed and argued before the court by Barrister Mobolaji Kuti, the presiding Judge Nicholas Oweibo restrained the petitioner Francis Idehen and his brother Christian Idehen from dealing with the bank accounts, cash and any other assets of the Schools without the express written consent or authorization of the other party pending the final determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

In a counter affidavit sworn to by Christian Idehen and filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer Mr. Akinwale Irokosu, Christian confirms that his brother, Francis is one of the shareholders in the schools.

He says the petition, motion on notice and other originating processes in the suit were never served on him.

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He says he was informed by his wife that she too was never served with any court processes in the suit.

He says the affidavit of services deposed to by the bailiff of the court shows that the court paper was served on one Adekunle Oke who is an agent, crony and ally procured by the petitioner to distort the running of the schools.

Christian claims Oke runs a parallel administration within the School in direct opposition to him.

The only court process pasted at his address were hearing notices informing him of the next adjourned date, Christian claims.

He says the petitioner misled the court in granting the interlocutory application by suppressing some material facts that would have properly guided the Court in deciding the motion on notice.

Christian alleges further that the petitioner has been making unilateral withdrawal from the bank accounts of the schools and making payment to third parties from the funds of the school without his consent and approval.

He is therefore urging the court to vacate or set aside the order made by the court so that the activities of the schools will not be grounded.

The presiding Judge Nicholas Oweibo has adjourned till 5 October, for hearing to commence.

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