Union Bank’s recapitalisation: Supreme Court orders fresh hearing of aggrieved shareholders’ suit

The Supreme Court has set aside the refusal of the Federal High Court, Lagos to hear a suit by some aggrieved shareholders of Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN).

The shareholders, led by Boniface Okezie, are by their suit, challenging among others, the 2009 sack of the bank’s directors by the then Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Lamido Sanusi, his appointment of Funke Osibodu as the bank’s Managing Director and the injection of funds into the bank in the name of recapitalisation.

In a ruling, the Federal High Court struck out the plaintiff’s originating summons and held that it was defective, having not raised issues for the court’s determination.

On appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos, the appellate court upheld the decision of the trial court, prompting the shareholders to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment on Friday, allowed the appeal by the shareholders and set aside the decisions of the Federal High Court.

Justice Paul Galumje, in the lead judgment of a five-man panel, held among others, that “the trial court was wrong in holding that the originating summons was defective and struck it out.”

Justice Galumje, whose judgment was read on Friday by Justice Amina Augie, said the trial court was wrong in striking out the shareholders’ originating summons even when the Federal High Court’s Civil Procedure Rules (2009) had come into effect.

He allowed the appeal and ordered that the case be remitted back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, for it to be re-assigned to another judge, other than Justice Nyako.

Justice Galumje ordered the respondents to jointly pay N600,000 as cost to the appellants.

Other members of the panel: Justices Mary Odili, Olukayode Ariwoola, John Okoro, Augie agreed with the lead judgment.

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