Wednesday, March 26, 2014 12:57 pm
Aggrieved former shareholders of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, led by Abdullahi Sani, Adaeze Onwuegbusi and Chijioke Ezeikpe, have dragged the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over the sale of the bank to Access Bank Plc.
Sued alongside Sanusi are the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
The shareholders want the court to compel, direct and mandate the SEC, as the official and apex regulator of the Nigerian Capital Market acting under her powers pursuant to Section 13 of the Investments and Securities Act 2007, to conduct a detailed public investigation into the circumstances relating to and connected with the sale/acquisition/take over/ transfer of the shares, assets and securities of Intercontinental Bank Plc to Access Bank Plc, in order to protect shareholders and investors of Intercontinental Bank Plc and the maintain a fair and orderly securities exchange market so as to protect the integrity of the securities market against all forms of abuse as occasioned by the Sanusi and his friends/associates/cronies, and order appropriate sanctions against parties involved in Intercontinental Bank takeover fraud.
Their lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche, a senior advocate of Nigeria, on Tuesday applied to the court presided over by Justice Ahmed Mohammed to grant their application seeking for leave for substituted means against the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, by delivering court documents relating to the case to any officer or adult person at his last known place of business at the office of Governor of the CBN or by pasting same on the notice board of the CBN.
The court acquiesced and ordered that court documents on the matter be served on Sanusi at the CBN and thereafter adjourned matter to 14th May.
The aggrieved shareholders want the court to determine, Whether Sanusi acting as the Governor of the CBN did not act fraudulently, in breach of his public office, against the public interest and contrary to the provisions of sections 12, 32, 35 and 39 of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, Cap B4 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 in deliberately strangulating the banking operations and falsifying the actual financial state of affairs/solvency of intercontinental bank Plc as a ground for revoking the operating licence of and taking over the management of the said Intercontinental Bank Plc, of which they are shareholders, only to undervalue the said Bank to shareholders’ and investors detriment and sell the said Bank to his friends/associates/cronies in Access Bank Plc where Mr. Aig-Aigboje and Mr. Herbert Wigwe, the Managing Director and Deputy Managing Director respectively of the said Access Bank Plc, being indebted to Intercontinental Bank Plc, to the tune of N16.2bn, to Sanusi’s knowledge.
The court is also being called upon to determine “Whether the 1st defendant, acting as the Governor of the 2nd defendant did not act fraudulently, in breach of his public office, against the public interest and contrary to the provision of sections 12, 32, 35 and 39 of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, Cap B4 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, in taking over Intercontinental Bank Plc, of which the plaintiffs are shareholders, and selling same to Access Bank Plc, notwithstanding that the facilitator of the said sale/buy-over transaction, Senator Bukola Saraki, was also indebted to Intercontinental Bank Plc, to the tune of N8.9bn, through his companies, Limkers, Dicetrade, Skyview Properties and Joy Petroleum, to the knowledge of the 1st defendant”.
The plaintiffs also urged the court to determine whether Sanusi did not act fraudulently “in waiving/writing off the sum of 16.2bn owed by the Mr. Aig-Aigboje Imokhuede and Mr. Herbert Wigwe, the MD and Deputy MD of the Access Bank and the sum of N8.9bn owed by Senator Bukola Saraki and other sums so owed, all totaling over N40bn in a bid to enable the said Access Bank Plc to fraudulently purchase Intercontinental Bank Plc at a ridiculous sum of N50bn only, even when the quarterly profit of the said Bank was more than N50bn and which Bank at the material time was worth more than N1trillion, to the detriment of the Plaintiffs as shareholders and investors.”
They further alleged that Sanusi violated section 35(2)(d) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, Cap B4 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, in appointing Mahmoud Lai Alabi an agent/staff of Senator Saraki as Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, to superintend the eventual sale/transfer of Intercontinental Bank Plc, to the trio of Mr Imokhuede, Mr. Wigwe, the MD and Deputy MD respectively of Access Bank and Senator Saraki.
The shareholders contend that in the light of Sanusi’s suspension letter from the Federal Government of Nigeria dated February 19, 2014, and the report of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria exposing his misdeeds as Governor of the CBN, that the handover of the Intercontinental Bank Plc in questionable circumstances to Access Bank Plc is an act of unprofessional conduct carried out in utmost bad faith which has adversely affected their rights and interests.
They are also seeking for an order of the court compelling the CBN, pursuant to Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, to make available to them all information and all documentation and all records in her possession and custody relating to and concerning all the stages and steps taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria, including all the records, share holdings, or equities of all the persons involved, in the transactions culminating in the take over of Intercontinental Bank Plc by Access Bank Plc, and records of the financial status of Intercontinental Bank Plc as at 31st July 2009.