By NBF News
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The decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sell four distressed banks to new investors has taken a legal dimension following a suit filed against the apex bank and its governor, Dr Sanusi Lamido Sanusi by shareholders of the affected banks.

The suit which is before a Federal High Court is seeking an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the apex bank and its governor from going ahead with the purported sale. The shareholders asked the court to prohibit the two defendants, their servants, agents and fronts from inviting bidders to buy over the four banks pending the determination of the court action.

The affected banks are the Union Bank Plc, Oceanic bank International Plc, Intercontinental Bank plc and AfriBank plc. The shareholders on the platform of Registered Trustees of the Proactive Shareholders Association of Nigeria prayed the Federal High Court to stop the CBN governor from making pronouncements on the sales bid and from making statements capable of prejudicing their suit.

In the case filed by Nnodu Okeke, the shareholders claimed that as the owners, they have strong interests to protect in the four banks and as such, the two defendants be restrained from any further move or action capable of jeopardizing their interests. In a 28-paragraph affidavit in support of the suit, the aggrieved shareholders are asking the court to determine whether Sanusi and the apex court have powers under the law to sell the four banks in the ways and manners they had planned.

In an apparent bid to justify their request for an interlocutory order, the bank owners claimed that in spite of the court action and papers served on the CBN, the defendants had continued to make efforts to sell off the banks.

With several documents attached to buttress their claims, the shareholders claimed that the bank sales, if allowed, would cause them irreparable losses in terms of their business and investments.

The affidavit deposed to by one Ijeoma Nwankwo, a lawyer claimed that the rights of the shareholders are in danger should the two defendants be allowed to frustrate their suit with the planned sales of the banks.

The bank owners claimed that Sanusi and CBN have nothing to lose if the interim order was granted and that they were ready to enter into undertaking as to damages to be paid to the two defendants if the suit case turn out to be frivolous in the end.

Hearing has been fixed for September 23.