Dr. Erastus Akingbola
By Davidson Iriekpen
The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal yesterday further thwarted attempts by the former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr. Erastus Akingbola, to stop the sale of the bank to Access Bank Plc.
This came as the court fixed February 20, 2012 to hear the substantive issue in the appeal filed by Akingbola against the ruling of a Federal High Court in Lagos which dismissed his suit to stop the sale.
Justice Okechukwu Okeke of a Federal High Court in Lagos, it would be recalled, had on June 14, dismissed a suit filed by Akingbola and a former Executive Director of Intercontinental Bank, Mr. Bayo Dada, on the ground that the suit was statute barred and belated.
The appellate court presided over by Justice Helen Ogunwumiju granted the appellants 14 days to compile record of appeal and transmit same to the court.
The court also granted the respondents 20 days each to reply to the appellant’s notice of appeal and thereafter adjourned the appeal.
The appellants and the respondents agreed that the substantive issues of the appeal should be heard first, leaving out contentious areas in order to speed up hearing and determination of the appeal.
The appellants had challenged the propriety of a Memorandum of Understanding, for business combination signed by Intercontinental Bank and Access Bank without recourse to them as shareholders and former directors of the bank.
Besides, they urged the appellate court to set aside the ruling of the lower court and allow the appeal.
They also prayed the court to stop the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, from liquidating or revoking Intercontinental Bank’s operation licence.
Akingbola and Dada argued that the lower court made fundamental errors in its ruling by going into issues which were not before it.
In a motion filed by their lawyer, Onyebuchi Aniakor, they urged the appellate court to restrain the CBN from withdrawing Inter- continental’s inter-bank guaranty, pending the determination of the appeal.
The appellants formulated nine grounds of appeal and argued that Okeke erred in law when he adjudged the suit as an abuse of court process merely on an assertion contained in the preliminary objections of the defendants, rather than the verified averments in the petition.