Wednesday, May 14, 2014 10:14 pm
Nnamdi Felix / Abuja
Suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the apex bank on Wednesday moved for the dismissal of a suit instituted by shareholders of defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc.
The shareholders of the bank, represented by Abdullahi Sani, Adaeze Onwuegbusi and Chijioke Ezeikpe, had dragged the suspended governor and the apex bank alongside rhe Security Exchange Commission, SEC, before a Federal High Court siting in Abuja, demanding the sum of N10 billion as special and general damages against Sanusi and the CBN for breaches culminating
in the wrongful take over of Intercontinental Bank Plc by Access Bank.
In separate preliminary objections, both the Sanusi and the CBNcontend that the suit was statute barred having been filled outside the time limit allowed for challenging acts of public officers. They also maintain that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit by reason of the provisions of section 53(1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act and section 52(1) of the Central Bank Act 2007 and urged the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that the fraud alleged to have been perpetrated in the sale of the bank was not supported with any particulars.
The defunct bank shareholders also want the court to order CBN to immediately recover the sum of N25.1 billion together with interest still being owed by the trio of Mr. Aig-Aigboje Imokhuede, Mr. Herbert Wigwe and Senator Bukola Saraki.
The apex bank insist it took actions in the interest of the nation’s economy and posited that while exercising its statutory duty, that it examined the books of Intercontinental Bank and found that the bank was in a grave financial
situation occasioned by capital inadequacy, grossly poor liquidity ratio and corporate governance problems.
“In order to salvage the bank and protect the interests of the bank’s depositors and creditors, Sanusi made an executive order removing the then Managing Director and the Executive Director of the bank and appointed
new managing director and the executive directors to oversee the affairs of the bank” the bank stated in an affidavit in support of its preliminary objection to the suit.
Similarly, persons who claim to be shareholders of Access Bank Plc have also filed papers before the court seeking to be joined in the suit as defendants. Their applications were however not heard by the court following the submission of Intercontinental Bank shareholders’ lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche, a senior advocate of Nigeria, who informed the court that he was served with the papers right inside the court and requires time to study the papers and file an appropriate response. He also indicated that he will be opposing the application by the parties seeking to join in the suit whom he suspected are being encouraged by Access Bank and pointed out that Access Bank should come forward on its own if it was desirous of challenging the suit rather than fight through proxies.
The judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed thereafter adjourned to July 16 for the hearing of the matter.
The defunct bank’s shareholders are asking the court to make an order declaring the takeover of Intercontinental Bank by Access Bank on the scheme, direction and instruction of Sanusi without lawful justification whatsoever, as null and void.
They said Sanusi took the action in a bid to confer corrupt advantage upon himself and his friends, associates and cronies to the investment detriment of the defunct bank’s shareholders, an act they consider as an infringement on the shareholders’ personal rights.
They also want the court to mandate Security Exchange Commission, SEC, as the official and apex regulator of the Nigerian Capital Market acting under her power pursuant to Section 13 of the Investments and Securities Act 2007, to conduct detailed public investigation into the circumstances relating to and connected with the sales of the shares, assets and securities of Intercontinental Bank to Access Bank.