Court Gives Sanusi Go-ahead to Sell Union Bank

The Court of Appeal in Lagos Thursday gave the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the go-ahead to sell Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.

The court, in a judgment delivered by Justice Helen Ogunwumiju, dismissed the appeal filed by some aggrieved shareholders of the bank praying the court to stop Sanusi from going ahead with his plan to sell the shareholdings.

Justice Ogunwumiju, who by the judgment affirmed the decision of the lower court, added that the appeal lacked merit and consequently dismissed it.

She further held that the appellants ought to have raised questions for determination in their originating summons.

The shareholders, led by the President of Progressive Shareholders Association (PSA), Boniface Okezie, had urged the appellate court to set aside the ruling of Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Nyako had, while ruling on the preliminary objections filed by the respondents, struck out the suit on the ground that the plaintiffs failed to raise questions for determination in their originating summons.

The shareholders, which included Rasheed Olatundu, Basil Ubah and Waheed Sonibare, had in their Notice of Appeal filed by their lawyer, Chucks Nwachuku, urged the court to set aside the ruling of the lower court and exercise its powers under Section 16 of the Court of Appeal Act to hear and determine the applicants/appellants’ originating summons.

The appellants in their grounds of appeal argued that their originating summons followed the specified procedure as mandated under Rule 2 (2) of the Companies Proceedings Rules, adding that the procedure did not require the formulation of question for determination.

The appellants maintained that the method of originating summons to be used for commencing applications under the Companies Proceedings Rules is Form 2.

Specifically, the shareholders wanted an injunction restraining Sanusi and the incumbent management of Union Bank from “entering into any arrangement with any person, institution or authority, including themselves and the Federal Government to dispose any share of the bank or to transfer its control, management and assets to any person or authority” pending the determination of an appeal.

Other defendants in the suit included Nigeria Deposit Insurance Commission (NDIC), Federal Attorney General, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the bank’s Managing Director, Funke Osibodu, who was sued on behalf of herself and others appointed by Sanusi to the Union Bank board.

According to the statement of facts in support of the originating summons, the shareholders argued that the action of Sanusi in removing the directors of Union Bank and other banks in the country was informed by his (Sanusi’s) desire to become “Grand Managing Director General”.

The shareholders, who are claiming N100 billion as damages for Sanusi’s action, alleged that the removal of the directors was done in bad faith.

But counsel to the bank and CBN, Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi (SAN) and Kola Awodein (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the suit on the ground that it was incompetent

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