Court strikes out Nigerian government’s bank lawsuit over state funds

Dana Rao

In a bid to follow-up on its out-of-court settlement, the Nigerian government has had its case against seven local lenders accused of withholding USD793 million owed to the state struck out by the court.

Justice Chuka Obiozor, in his decision, said the government had filed a notice to halt the case, Reuters report. He also awarded a cost of 200,000 naira (USD548) each to the seven banks as compensation.

“As I have not adjudicated on the claims … the proper order to be made in this case is to strike out the case,” Obiozor said.

Recalled that some of the seven lenders had said they either have paid in full what they owed or do not owe the government.

A lawyer to government, Yemi Akinseye-George had previously told the court that the government would seek an out-of-court settlement with the banks, without elaborating.

Last month the court ordered the lenders to remit a combined USD793 million to the government immediately after the state accused them of holding back funds collected on its behalf.

Commercial banks in Nigeria collect grants, taxes, fees and tariffs on behalf of the government which they send to a single treasury account with the central bank in line with a policy introduced in 2015 aimed at curbing corruption.

The banks affected are United Bank for Africa (UBA) , Diamond Bank, Skye Bank, First Bank, Fidelity Bank, Keystone Bank and Sterling Bank.