About six years after his death in the Escravos in Warri Delta State, the immediate family of the Managing Director of controversial Global West Vessel Specialists Limited(GWVSL) ; Capt Romeo Itima has dragged the deceased’s junior brother; Captain Winfred Itima to court over ownership of company shares and alleged financial mismanagement.
The late Captain Itima met his untimely and mysterious death on the 7th of August 2012 in Escravos, where he was reported to have fallen-off a boat and drowned.
His younger brother; Capt Winifred Itima is being sued alongside other directors of the company; namely: former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Maritime; Mr. Oluwagbenga Leke Oyewole and Mr. Olabisi Idowu Afolabi.
The suit was filed by the wife of Captain Romeo Itima, Helen and two of her children; Zion Itima and Kevin Itima.
The suit; FHC/CS/1123/2017 was filed before Justice Babs Kuemi of the Federal High Court, Lagos and preliminary hearing took place on May 16,2018, it was adjourned to June 26, 2018.
In the suit, the plaintiffs averred that Late Romeo Itima established Global West Vessel Specialists Limited in Nigeria in 2009 to combat piracy and associated crimes that were plaguing Nigeria's territorial waters, adding that, it was a way he intended to contribute his quota in salvaging Nigeria's maritime security domain, ploughing his wealth of experience as a master mariner with a rich shipping experience from the United States of America.
In their statement of claim, the family alleged that their father’s sibling and present Managing Director of GWVSL, Captain Winfred Itima took-over their late father’s companies, GWVSL and Molecular Power Systems Limited shortly after his death and has refused to give account of the finances of the two companies to the family till date.
They claimed that the actions of their uncle since the demise of their father were a clear breach of filial affection, trust, care and confidence their late father reposed in him.
According to Capt Romeo’s family, Captain Winfred Itima who was not a director at the time late Romeo Itima died made himself the Managing Director of GWVSL without due consultations and approvals.
The family claimed that since Captain Winfred Itima took over the affairs of their father’s companies, he has conducted himself with utmost disregard and prejudice of the interest of their father, his late brother.
As part of his alleged administrative and financial misconduct, the family claimed that Captain Winfred Itima unlawfully allotted to himself 6,000,000 ordinary shares of Molecular Power Systems Limited without recourse to the pioneer shareholders including their mother; Mrs Helen Itima who is an administrator of their late father’s estate.
They family claimed further that Capt Winfred reduced late Romeo Itima’s shares of 2,000,000 to 300,000 and made himself the highest shareholder in the company. This according to the family is a deliberate attempt to deprive them of their rights, interests, and entitlements.
According to the family, since their father’s death, Captain Winfred Itima has left them in the dark over the conduct and management of the companies and terminated the employment of Zion Itima, the eldest son of late Romeo Itima’s from GWVSL.
He allegedly went ahead to appoint his ally, Mr. Olabisi Afolabi a director in the company.
The family further claimed that, Captain Winfred Itima took away loads of documents which were in possession of their late father immediately after his death and prevented the family from having access to them.
According to them, the late Romeo Itima through one of his companies, GWVSL executed many contracts running into several millions of naira with the Nigeria Maritime and Safety Administration Agency (NIMASA), most of which were not paid for before his untimely death and has remained unaccounted for till date.
They are asking the court to compel Captain Winfred Itima and GWVSL to produce all contracts entered by late Romeo Itima with NIMASA before his sudden death and payments made by NIMASA till date, including the list of vessels he acquired which now form part of the fleet owned by the company.
The family therefore 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 Itima after his death, void.
They asked the court to issue an order directing 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 Captain Winfred Itima to give a detailed account of all the assets including vessels purchased under the Private Public Partnership Agreement between their father and NIMASA as well as sale of vessels and other properties so far.
The family asked the court to order the removal of their Captain Winfred Itima from the GWVSL Board of Directors and immediate forfeiture of the shares he and his ally Olabisi Afolabi unlawfully acquired as directors.