The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it was making efforts to ensure that depositors of the Savannah Bank get their monies from the bank.
The apex bank also said that it was working to ensure that issues surrounding the prolonged closure of the lender were resolved.
Mr. Tajudeen Ahmed, acting director, Consumer Protection Department, at the CBN, gave this assurance while addressing bank customers at the “3rd Biennial Bank Customers Summit” organised by the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN) in Lagos yesterday.
He disclosed that the apex bank had lately been strategizing on how to resolve the impasse that has prevented Savannah bank from reopening for operations since regaining its operational license over nine years ago, adding that there would be a positive development on the issue in the not too distant future.
Earlier, in his remarks, Dr. Uju Ogubunka, president, BCAN, , had called on the apex bank to urgently come to the aid of Savannah Bank depositors who had been passing through very difficult times since the bank was shut down over 17 years ago.
He said: “Savannah Bank is holding large deposit of our members. Many of the people that owned accounts have died and their children are suffering. We call on the CBN to do what it can to resolve the situation. We also call on the President, the National Assembly and the judiciary to resolve the Savannah Bank issue.” Savannah Bank’s license was revoked by the CBN in February 2002 and immediately liquidated by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC). The CBN Governor, at the time, Joseph Oladele Sanusi, said the lender was axed for not having enough assets to meet liabilities and did not comply with CBN obligations, adding that the regulators had been unable to prevent further deterioration, which caused anomaly in the depositor’s funds.
At the time of its forcible closure, Savannah Bank had nearly 85,000 shareholders, a share capital of N1 billion, and 118 branches. Its depositors were in hundreds of thousands. In 2009, the promoters of the bank won their court case against the regulators and Savannah Bank’s license was restored by the CBN.
However, despite promises by the promoters that the bank will reopen for operations, it is yet to do so. Indeed, the promoters have reportedly gone back to the courts to seek for certain reliefs against the CBN and the NDIC.
At a recent event, Mr. Boniface Okezie, president, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), said the issue of Savannah Bank is political, and that the Federal Government should ensure that the bank re-opens for operation.
Okezie explained that Savannah Bank and Heritage Bank, which was former Societe Generale Bank were in the same league of troubled banks. “If Societe Generale Bank could be rescued by the Federal Government, Savannah Bank, which had no major problem could also be treated same.”