Court decides Stanbic IBTC case against FRC Dec 14
A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed December 14, 2015 to give judgment in a suit filed against the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria by Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc.
The trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, adjourned for judgment after entertaining arguments on the preliminary objection filed the FRC against the plaintiff’s suit.
Stanbic IBTC filed the suit following an imposition of a N1bn fine on it by the FRC over alleged irregularities in its financial statements for the years 2013 and 2014.
The council had on October 16, 2015 informed Stanbic IBTC Holdings that it committed criminal offences and that it would be reported to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Security and Exchange Commission.
It had asked the entire Stanbic IBTC board to meet with it so as to determine the extent of the board involvement in the matter and moved to suspend the Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, Mr. Atedo Peterside, and three directors of the company.
But in its suit, the company, through its lawyer, Prof. Fidelis Oditah (SAN), contended that the FRC acted in excess of its powers, adding that the council lacked the authority to invite the members of the board of directors of the plaintiff for interrogation.
It sought a declaration that the failure to register a “registrable” agreement under the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion Act is not a criminal offence.
It also urged the court to determine whether the FRC had the power to impose a N1bn fine on it.
At the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, FRC, through its lawyer, Mr. Olusina Sofola (SAN), brought a preliminary objection to the suit, urging the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit for being incompetent.
Arguing the application, Sofola said the plaintiff did not comply with Section 66 (3) of the FRC Act by not exhausting all internal dispute resolution mechanisms before rushing to court.
He said, Section 66(3) of the FRC Act stipulated that anyone who was dissatisfied with any decision of the council should appeal to its technical committee.
“All the internal remedies must be exhausted, which they have not done here,” Sofola contended.
He further argued that what Stanbic IBTC ought to have done was to have filed an application seeking for a judicial review, rather than approach the court through an originating summons.
He also argued that the failure of the plaintiff to join the Minister of Trade as a respondent had rendered the suit incompetent, saying Stanbic IBTC was made by the Minister of Trade.
But the plaintiff’s lawyer, Oditah, described the defendant’s preliminary objection as hopeless and maintained that the Minister of Trade was not a necessary party to the suit.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Contact: [email protected]