Court dismisses Falana’s suit against CBN on Polaris Bank sale

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Court dismisses Falana’s suit against CBN on Polaris Bank sale
Court dismisses Falana’s suit against CBN on Polaris Bank sale

A federal high court in Lagos has dismissed a suit filed by Femi Falana, human rights lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), challenging the sale of Polaris Bank.

According to NAN, Lewis Allagoa, the presiding judge, dismissed the suit following an application by the lawyer, seeking a discontinuation of the case.

Falana had instituted the action in suit FHC/l/CS/87c/23, against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Polaris Bank Nigeria Ltd.

In his originating summons, the plaintiff had prayed the court to determine certain summons.

“Whether by the provisions of section 42(2) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020, and Public Procurement Act, 2007, the CBN could validly sell Polaris bank for N50 billion having earlier revitalized same for N1.3 trillion,” the summon reads.

Subsequently, Falana requested a declaration that the purported sale of Polaris bank by CBN on October 19, 2022, is unlawful and violates the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

He said alleged sale also violates the provisions of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020.

As a result, the plaintiff requested an injunction to reverse the sale of Polaris Bank.

When the case was called on Wednesday, Falana announced appearance for himself as both plaintiff and counsel.

On the other hand, Augustine Okafor appeared for the first defendant (CBN) while Olabisi Makanjuola appeared for the second defendant (Polaris Bank).

‘FALANA WITHDRAWS CASE’

Thereafter, Falana informed the court of his intentions to withdraw and discontinue the suit following a takeover of bank by the federal government.

The SAN said the federal government, after learning that the sale of Polaris was illegal, had decided to take over the bank.

For this reason, Falana then sought to withdraw the suit.

Meanwhile, Makanjuola argued that the plaintiff cannot withdraw the action due to the originating summons and the defense’s counter affidavit, which had already been joined.

He argued that plaintiff had not sought to file his discontinuance within 14 days of receiving the counter affidavit.

Makanjuola argued that the dismissal of the lawsuit would be the proper ruling under the given circumstances.

In addition, he informed the court that the plaintiff should first follow the court’s ruling after it had already been issued the awarding cost of N200,000 against the plaintiff at the most recent adjourned date.

Makanjuola’s position was also adopted by the second defense counsel.

But in response, Falana pointed out that the defense counsel ought to give him credit for his ability to present a case of such public relevance in court on behalf of Nigerians.

He said an order of cost was not appropriate in the circumstances.

In its ruling, the court first observed that the plaintiff’s suit was well intended in public interest and should not be subject to any punitive measures from the court.

However, the court held that since issues had been joined, the appropriate judgement to make is a dismissal.

Consequently, Allagoa dismissed the suit but rescinded the cost previously awarded against the defendant.