The Trial of Reynolds Construction Company, By Gbenga Idowu
The court case against Reynolds Construction Company Limited, RCC, and 11 others, which recently came up for mention in an Abuja High Court, is fast attracting public attention. In the case, numbered FHC/ABJ/PET/38/2022, RCC is accused of “diversion and misappropriation of assets” belonging to another Israeli company, Solel Boneh Nigeria Limited (SBN).
RCC is also accused of “comingling of assets, contracts and goodwill” of SBN for the benefit of its operations and in so doing caused huge losses to SBN’s minority shareholders.
Initially, public interest resulted from the petitioners being the administrators of late High Chief Gabriel Akin-Deko, a popular Action Group politician and one time Minister of Agriculture in the old Western Region in the 1950s/60s, who was popularly hailed as “King of the Farmers”. He later became the largest minority shareholder in Solel Boneh Nigeria and Board Chairman until his death in 1987.
More recently, public interest in the case, especially among the Nigerian banking and business communities has focused more on RCC, the first respondent in the case and one of Nigeria’s largest construction companies. The company is currently one of the main contractors working at the Ibadan end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
At the sitting of the court, while lawyers from Sholias LP appeared for the petitioners, Kayode Atanda esq, a lawyer from Akin Onigbinde (SAN) Chambers, filed appearance for the 1st and 2nd Respondents, who surprisingly are both named Reynolds Construction Company.
What therefore first appeared to many to have been a typographical error in the court papers, in which Reynolds Construction Company was named two times as 1st and 2nd respondents now became clearer; there are two different companies both named Reynolds Construction Company. The Petitioners in this case have questioned the motive of the owners and managers of RCC in incorporating two different companies with identical names.
It does not end there. Further investigation at the Corporate Affairs Commission shows that after the death of late High Chief Akin-Deko, Reynolds Construction Company and Solel Boneh at one time had the same Managing Director and Chairman running the two companies simultaneously. These were Mr. Musa Nakhla and Mr. Adedayo Odeyemi, the 6th and 8th Respondents respectively.
Meanwhile, a visit to the extensive yard and offices along Oyo Road in Ibadan, which was once occupied by Solel Boneh Nigeria and its army of employees, and which housed the company’s range of sophisticated construction equipment now boldly bears the name of Reynolds Construction Company.
Solel Boneh Nigeria, which was formed in Nigeria in partnership with one of Israel’s largest conglomerates built many of the Roads and Factories in Western Nigeria. In the process, the company provided jobs for tens of thousands of people and left an indelible mark in the region.
How and why then did the company, which at its peak ranked alongside Julius Berger, fall from sight only to be replaced by the lesser-known Reynolds Construction Company? This is the question that the petitioners are hoping Reynolds Construction Company and the other 11 respondents will answer in court.
Meanwhile, the Court granted the petitioners’ application to serve the remaining respondents by pasting the Summons at their last known place of business. The next hearing date is set for 28th June 2023.
Idanre Hills, Ondo State