Non-remittance of $793.2m: FG withdraws suit against 7 banks

The Federal Government on Tuesday applied to withdraw the case it in­stituted against seven commer­cial banks in the country which were accused of violating the government’s Treasury Single Account policy.

The Federal Government had alleged that the banks con­nived with some government agencies to illegally hide in their coffers, a total of $793,200,000, which was meant to have been transmitted to the TSA account domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The concerned banks are, United Bank for Africa; Di­amond Bank Plc; Skye Bank Plc; First Bank Limited; Fidel­ity Bank Plc; Keystone Bank Limited; and Sterling Bank Plc.

Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court in La­gos had on July 20, 2017 grant­ed an interim order in favour of the Federal Government, di­recting the seven banks to tem­porarily remit the funds to the TSA.

The court had then ad­journed till Tuesday for the banks to appear before him to show cause why the inter­im order should not be made permanent.

But at the resumed proceed­ings on Tuesday, Counsel for the Federal Government, Prof Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), said that he had been instruct­ed by the Attorney-General of the Federation to discontinue the case in the overall interest of the public.

“It is not out of weakness that the Federal Government is withdrawing this case. The banks are corporate citizens and we are interested in the well-being of everybody”, Ak­inseye-George said, urging Justice Obiozor to strike out the suit.

But the banks, which claimed that the Federa­tion Government’s allegation against them was false and that they had already been unjustly disparaged, urged the judge not to merely strike out the suit but to dismiss it and award N20m cost against the Federal Gov­ernment.

They noted that any case struck out could be re-filed while a case that is dismissed could no longer be re-filed.

Counsel for the banks, Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) and Mrs. Abimbola Akeredo­lu (SAN), took turns to argue that the proper order the court ought to make in the circum­stances of the case was to dis­miss the suit and not strike it out.

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