By Innocent Anaba
The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, has set aside the winding-up of Afribank Nigeria Plc by an order of a Federal High Court, Lagos. The lower court had following a petition by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, wind-up the bank. The appellate court, set aside the winding up of Afribank following the appeal by shareholders of the bank, who had appealed against the judgment of the lower court.
The shareholders Igbrude Oke, Rasak Mumini, Akinsanya Sunday, Suleiman Babatunde, Igba Olatomide, for themselves and other Afribank shareholders, had at the lower court, challenged the petition by NDIC, seeking to wind-up the bank, arguing that there were other pending cases against the take over of the bank that would be prejudiced if the lower court goes ahead to wind-up the bank.
The shareholders had at the lower court, in challenge to the petition, argued that it was an abuse of court process, as there was a case pending in court, challenging the power of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in the way they did and without that being resolved, NDIC went ahea to file the petition to wind-up the bank, claiming that since Afribank license had been revoked by the CBN, the bank is dead and should be wind-up.
The lower court on 07/02/2012 after being told that there other pending applications in the case, including a preliminary objection, challenging the petition, adjourned the matter for mention.
The lower court also on 02/04/2012 further adjourned the case for mention. On 02/07/2012, the lower court, on the day the matter was fixed for mention, and in the absence of the shareholders counsel, went ahead to hear NDIC counsel argument on the petition and preliminary objection, contrary to decided Supreme Court judgments, that on the day a matter is adjourned for mention, major applications would not be taken unless with the agreement of counsel.
The lower court on the same day went ahead to wind -up the bank. The shareholders had asked the appellate court to determine “Whether it is open to the lower court to proceed, on a day date in which the suit was expressly and specifically fixed for mention by the court, to strike out the appellant hearing’s notice of preliminary objection to the competency of the suit and/or to entertain the petition comprised in this suit without any prior notice to the contrary and in the absence of an order setting aside its earlier ruling to wit: That there are suits that may be prejudiced.”