By Providence Obuh
EX-BANKERS of eight non-consolidated banks have sued the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and four acquirer banks over unpaid N9.8 billion terminal benefit 11 years after disengagement from the services of the non-consolidated banks.
The eight non-consolidated banks are Allstates Trust Bank, Hallmark Bank, Assurance Bank, Eagle Bank, Gulf Bank, Liberty Bank, Metropolitan Bank and Trade Bank.
The former bankers filed an action suit through the Registered Trustees of the Association of Ex-Staff of Non-Consolidated Banks of Nigeria and all ex-staff of eight banks not consolidated in the banks consolidation exercise at the National Industrial Court, Lagos Judicial Division.
Acquiring banks joined in the suit are Ecobank Nigeria Plc, UBA Plc, Skye Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.
A breakdown of the claimants’ gratuities showed that Allstates and Hallmark Bank acquired by Ecobank were owed over N7billion; UBA acquired Gulf Bank, Liberty Bank, Metropolitan Bank and Trade Bank, owing ex-staff of the respective banks over N1.3 billion, while Skye Bank and Zenith Bank were owing about N600 million and N22 million respectively.
Recall that in 2005, the CBN under Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as the governor, carried out consolidation exercise for banks asking that they recapitalise with N25 billion and banks who were unable to recapitalise had their operating licences withdrawn.
At the hearing of the suit held at Court 2, presided over by Justice Benedict Kanyip, the presiding judge advised the association members to come as individuals even as he adjourned the case to April 26, 2017.
Claimaints’ Counsel, Daniel Omotilewa, said that the Act imposes a duty on the NDIC to ensure that acquiring banks take up the deposits and other liabilities of the acquired banks, including the terminal benefits of ex-staff.
He hinted that if the right things were done at the right time, it was the banks that were supposed to pay because they were supposed to acquire the assets and the liability. “But they made it a sort of cherry picking, acquire cars, buildings. Our position is that the law does not allow them to do that and if NDIC and CBN had done the right thing at the right time, it is these banks that should have paid. Because they allow the banks to go, they too are defendant to this action.
“They are the ones that supervised the process, so the onus is strongly on them, for allowing some of these banks to go away, they don’t have any other choice than to find a way of paying them their money,” he said.
Chairman, Association of ex-staff of Non-Consolidated Banks, Mr. Magnus Maduka, said that the number of people affected are over 10,000 adding that the Association has lost about 100 persons to death as a result of imposed poverty.
Magnus assured members to keep faith on the case, saying, “We belong to different banks and on the average, 14 banks were affected initially, but two of those banks got settled, Lead Bank and City Express Bank, leaving us to about 12 banks in all. If we take a thousand per bank, we are over 10,000.
“Example is Hallmark where I worked as Deputy General Manager (DGM). That bank has about 1,400 workers. We were trying to explore the possibility of settling this diplomatically without having to go to court, we made all manners of pleas to NDIC, CBN and the regulatory authorities of the banks but they were playing us along, acknowledging that they owed us but suddenly what they are saying to us is that upon realising the assets of the bank, then they will settle us and we are talking of about over 10 years and they are still talking about realising assets now, it means, they do not want to pay us but trying to frustrate us,” he said.