- Ex-bankers’ N9.2b Suit Against CBN, Others for Hearing Dec. 13
The over 14,000 ex-staff of banks who filed a suit against the Central Bank of Nigeria following their retrenchment in 2006 as a result of the banking consolidation exercise would have the opportunity of taking their pleas at the Lagos Division of the National Industrial Court in December 13, 2017.
The ex-bankers lost their jobs in 2006 when the apex bank revoked the operational licences of 13 commercial banks for failing to attain the N25bn capitalisation threshold then introduced and enforced by the apex bank.
Specifically, the former bankers, amongst other things, wants all their entitlements and terminal benefits, which they put at N9,166,424,276, from four commercial banks, which acquired the eight banks for which they were working prior to the 2006 capitalisation.
The eight banks whose lincences were revoked in 2006 are All States Trust Bank, Hallmark Bank, Gulf Bank Plc, Liberty Bank, Metropolitan Bank,Trade Bank, Assurance Bank and Eagle Bank.
Included as defendants in their suit marked NIC/LA/603/2016 before Justice Benedict Kanyip are the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, the CBN, and the four commercial banks – Ecobank Nigeria Limited, United Bank for Africa Plc, Skye Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc – which acquired the eight banks for which the claimants were working prior to the 2006 capitalisation policy by the CBN.
The erstwhile bank workers are urging the court to declare that the NDIC and the CBN acted contrary to the law and prejudiced their interests while entering into agreements with Ecobank, UBA, Skye Bank and Zenith Bank, to sell the assets of their former employers.
The claimants are contending that it was unlawful and wrong for the NDIC and the CBN to sell the assets of the eight banks to Ecobank, UBA, Skye Bank and Zenith Bank, without also transferring the liability of paying the terminal benefits of the disengaged bank workers to Ecobank, UBA, Skye Bank and Zenith Bank.
The lawyer to the claimants, Dotun Onafowope, argued that both the NDIC and the CBN misunderstood their roles and misapplied the law in the 2006 consolidation exercise by categorising the eight non-consolidated banks as failed banks.
It would be recalled that the ex-bankers had earlier approached the court under the aegis of the Incorporated Trustees of the Association of Ex-Staff of Non-Consolidated Banks of Nigeria, but Justice Kanyip had questioned the possibility of the claimants coming before him as a group registered under the Corporate and Allied Matters Act as opposed to as individuals.
Taking the court’s hint, Onafowope, at the recent proceedings, brought an application dated June 30, 2017, seeking to substitute the group with names of 847 individual claimants.
However the matter could not proceed due mainly to the absence of the NDIC lawyer, who had written to the court that he was indisposed.
But before adjourning the matter till December 13, 2017, Justice Kanyip noted that the claimants’ lawyer, Onafowope, had to convince the court that there was even a competent suit before the court that could be substituted with another.
He asked whether the claims of the ex-bank workers were not statute barred against the NDIC and the CBN in view of the Public Officers’ Protection Act, which he said gave a window of only three months to file a suit against an action taken by a public officer.
Besides, he sought to know whether the claimants had not been caught by the six years’ limitation for the other defendants.
But Onafowope said though the consolidation took place in 2006, it was January 2011 that the claimants were supposed to be paid their terminal benefits, adding that the consolidation had been concluded as the assets of the acquired banks were still being advertised.