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Peter Obi’s Company Shut Down By UK Authorities Over Failure To Submit Annual Accounts

The Punch reports that the company was reportedly shut down over failure to submit its annual accounts.

The United Kingdom (UK) government shut down Next International (UK) Limited, a company owned by Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party for Nigeria’s 2023 general elections, over account issues, a report has said.

The Punch reports that the company was reportedly shut down over failure to submit its annual accounts.

Premium Times had reported that the company was removed from the record in September 2021 following a first and second gazette notice of a “compulsory” strike off of the entity.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Thursday, the Head of Obi-Datti Media Office, Diran Onifade, dismissed reports that the company was liquidated by UK authorities.

According to Onifade, the owners voluntarily liquidated the firm as it was no longer in operation.

He said Obi’s wife “about one year ago requested that the company be dissolved under the voluntary strike off of the entity on grounds of dissolution and being inoperational, which is normal in winding up an entity”.

It could be noted that in the UK, a compulsory strike-off is imposed on a company by creditors or by the Companies House for non-submission of annual accounts or failure to notify Companies House about a change of official registered office address.

According to the compulsory strike-off law, once a company is struck off, its details will be removed from the Companies House register and the company ceases to exist.

Premium Times reports that Next International (UK) Limited failed to submit its annual accounts for the year 2020, and as a result, the company was struck off and dissolved in 2021.

The Punch reports that before a company is struck off, however, the UK requires the Companies House’s Registrar to send at least two formal letters to the company warning that a failure to file its annual accounts will lead to its removal from the register.

According to UK Liquidators, a financial consulting firm, if Companies House receives no reply to its letters, it will then publish a first ‘strike off notice’ in the Gazette, which is the official journal of public record.

It was reported that the first official notice to strike off Next International was issued on June 22, 2021, while a second notice was given on August 31, 2021, and a final gazette to dissolve the company was issued on September 7, 2021.

Before its final dissolution, records show that for four consecutive years (2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020) the UK Companies House had to always issue a “first gazette notice for compulsory strike-off” before Next International filed its annual account.

The condition is that immediately after the company submitted its annual accounts, a gazette will be issued to discontinue the compulsory strike-off action.

Next International, a private limited company largely owned by the former Anambra governor pushing to become the next Nigerian President, was incorporated on May 16, 1996.

Obi was listed as a director while his wife, Margaret, served as secretary. Next International (Nigeria) Limited (with 999 ordinary shares) and Mr Obi (with one ordinary share) were listed as shareholders.

Records show that the company was registered as business “agents involved in the sale of a variety of goods” in England and Wales.

The company was reported to have taken a mortgage from Lloyds TSB Bank Plc for a property on 53 Clyde Road, Croydon.

On May 16, 2008, 14 months after assuming duties as governor of Anambra State, Obi resigned as the director of Next International, meanwhile, he took office on March 17, 2006, but continued to serve as a director of the company in violation of Nigerian law.

According to Nigerian law, a person is statutorily required to withdraw from engaging in or directing a private business, except if it is farming, upon becoming a public officer, Section Six (6) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act provides.

Premium Times reported that Obi had admitted in 2021 that he did not declare these companies and the funds and properties they held in his asset declaration filings with the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Nigerian government agency that deals with the issues of corruption, conflict of interest, and abuse of office by public servants.

However, Obi has reportedly said he was unaware that the law expected him to declare assets or companies he jointly owns with his family members or anyone else.

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