Court strikes out govt’s bank lawsuit over state funds


LAGOS, AUGUST 9, 2017 – Court on Wednesday struck out a lawsuit against seven local lenders accused of withholding $793 million owed to the state after the government said it would try to settle out of court.

Justice Chuka Obiozor, in his decision, said the government had filed a notice to halt the case. He awarded a cost of 200,000 naira ($548) each to the seven banks as compensation.

“As I have not adjudicated on the claims … the proper order to be made in this case is to strike out the case,” Obiozor said.

Some of the seven lenders have said they do not owe government money or have paid what is due.

On Tuesday, a lawyer to government, Yemi Akinseye-George, told the court that the government would seek an out-of-court settlement with the banks, without elaborating.

Last month the court ordered the lenders to remit a combined $793 million to the government immediately after the state accused them of holding back funds collected on its behalf.

Commercial banks in Nigeria collect grants, taxes, fees and tariffs on behalf of the government which they send to a single treasury account with the central bank in line with a policy introduced in 2015 aimed at curbing corruption.

The banks affected are United Bank for Africa (UBA) , Diamond Bank, Skye Bank, First Bank, Fidelity Bank, Keystone Bank and Sterling Bank.

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