By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN â€” A BENIN-based legal practitio-ner, Mr. Dele Igbinedion, has dragged the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and its Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to a Federal High Court in Benin over a circular barring all banks in Nigeria from deploying or operating the Automated Teller Machines, ATMs, outside their branches.
The circular, dated April 2009, had also directed that all ATMs should be re-deployed by 31 March.
Igbinedion, who was a former member of Edo State House of Assembly, is asking the court for a declaration that the defendantsâ€™ order to the banks was contrary to the provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act No.24 of 1991, the Banks and Other Financial Institu-tions Act No. 25 of 1991 and an abuse of power under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
He also prayed the court for an order nullifying or setting aside the above mentioned order/circular as well as for an order restraining the defen-dants by themselves, their agents, servants, privies or whosoever called from enfor-cing or further enforcing the aforementioned order/circular.
In a 15-paragraphed affidavit in support of the originating summons before the court, Mr. Igbinedion claimed that he tried to withdraw cash from ATMs operated at Agbor by the United Banks for Africa (UBA) on 31 March 2010 and at Access Bank Plc in Benin on 5 April 2010 respectively, but couldnâ€™t make any withdrawal because the ATMs were disabled as a result of the circular/order to all banks by the defendants.
He averred:Â â€œThereafter, I made enquiries with the staff of both the UBA and Access Bank and was informed, which I verily believed that sometime in April 2009, the 1st and 2nd defendants barred all banks in Nigeria from operating ATMs outside their branches (off site ATMs).
The 1st and 2nd defendants also ordered all banks in Nigeria to redeploy all offsite ATMs:
â€œThe order of the 1st and 2nd defendants has affected and continues to affect me adversely. The order has also affected ordinary Nigerians in that they will ultimately have to pay more as the 1st and 2nd defendants have licensed non-banks to operate the ATMs. These companies will charge the ordinary Nigerians more for the same service.
â€œThat I know that the order is illegal in that the 1st and 2nd defendants lack the power, right or competence under the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 1991 and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991 to issue such orders. The order is also grossly unconstitutional.â€
However, no date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.