TSA Suit Against Banks: FG Files Withdrawal Application

The Federal Government has filed a discontinuance suit against seven banks which it earlier accused of violating the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.
The application filed on Tuesday at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos is seeking to withdraw its suit against the banks, which include: Diamond Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), First Bank, Skye Bank, Fidelity Bank, Sterling Bank and the Keystone Bank.
The Federal Government had alleged that the banks connived with some government agencies to illegally conceal $3793.2m meant to have been transferred to the TSA domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The government had in the suit alleged that 67.4m was illegally hidden by three government agencies in UBA, while $41m was illegally kept in a NAPIMS fixed deposit account with Skye Bank.
Another $277.9m was allegedly hidden in Diamond Bank, $18.9m in First Bank, $24.5m in Fidelity Bank, $17m in Keystone Bank and $46.5m was kept in Sterling Bank.
The funds were alleged to be revenues, donations, transfers, refunds, grants, taxes, fees, dues, tariffs etc accruable to the Federal Government from different ministries, departments, parastatal agencies.
Justice Chuka Obiozor had on July 20 granted an interim order in favour of the Federal Government, directing that the seven banks should temporarily remit the funds to the TSA.
The court then adjourned until August 8 for the banks to show cause why the interim order should not be made permanent.
At resumed proceedings on Tuesday, the Counsel to the Federal Government, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), said he had been instructed by the Attorney-General of the Federation to discontinue the case in the “overall interest of the public”.
Urging the court to strike out the suit, Akinseye-George said, “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.”
However, the banks through their counsel, claimed that the Federation Government’s allegation against them was false. They had noted that they had already been unjustly disparaged and urged the Judge not to merely strike out the suit but to dismiss it and award them at least N20m cost against the Federal Government.
The banks said that any case struck out could be re-filed while a case that is dismissed can no longer be re-filed.
The Counsel to the banks, including Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) and Mrs. Abimbola Akeredolu (SAN), took turns to argue that the proper order that the court ought to make in the circumstances of the case was to dismiss the suit and not strike it out.
In her submission, Akeredolu, representing Sterling Bank Plc, said the Federal Government decided to withdraw the case having realised that it was filed in error.
“My Lord should not allow the instrumentation of the law to be used as a vehicle of mischief as nobody is above the law, even the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“We are praying the court to make an order for a meagre cost of N10 million against the plaintiffs,” Akeredolu said.
The Counsel to Keystone Bank, Babatunde Ogungbamila, however, insisted on a cost of N20m against the Federal Government, saying his client had suffered a substantial damage to its reputation.
“They have destroyed the reputation of our banking industry and they did this recklessly because the fundamental economic underpinning of this country was actually targeted.,”
Meanwhile, Justice Obiozor adjourned the case until Aug. 9 for ruling.

Author: News Editor

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