For failing to submit its annual accounts, authorities in the United Kingdom, have struck off Next International (UK) Limited, a company largely owned by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi.
An online platform, Premium Times, reported that the company was removed from the record in September 2021, following a first and second gazette notice of “compulsory” strike off of the entity.
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.
Once a company is struck off, its details will be removed from the Companies House register and the company ceases to exist.
Next International (UK) Limited failed to submit its annual accounts for the year 2020, hence, the company was struck off and dissolved in 2021.
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.
The first official notice to strike off Next International was issued on 22nd June 2021, then a second notice was given on 31st August 2021. A final gazette to dissolve the company was issued on 7th September 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. Then immediately the company submitted its annual accounts, a gazette will be issued to discontinue the compulsory strike-off action.
A private limited company, Next International was incorporated on 16t May 1996. Mr 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 firm reported taking 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.
He took office on March 17, 2006 but continued to serve as a director of the company in violation of Nigerian law.
In Nigeria, 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.
The former governor admitted to Premium Times 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.
At the time, Mr Obi said he was unaware that the law expected him to declare assets or companies he jointly owns with his family members or anyone else.