A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has dismissed the suit filed by Chief Femi Falana (SAN) challenging a purported sale of Polaris Bank.
Justice Lewis Allagoa On Wednesday dismissed the suit after Falana asked the court to halt the case before the court.
Falana had sued the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Polaris Bank Nigeria Ltd. in suit number FHC/l/CS/87c/23, in which he sourt the court to determine as follows:
“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 the same for N1.3 trillion.”
Falana also wants the court to declare that the sale of the bank by CBN on Oct. 19, 2022, is illegal and violates the Public Procurement Act, 2007, adding that the sale also violated the provisions of the Banks and Other Related Institutions Act 2020.
The SAN, who is asking the court to set aside the sale of Polaris Bank, on Wednesday, announced appearance as both plaintiff and counsel appearing for himself .
Mr Augustine Okafor appeared for the first defendant while Mr Olabisi Makanjuola, appeared for the second defendant.
Falana said he is withdrawing and discontinuing the suit after the Federal Government has taken over the Polaris Bank.
He said the Federal Government, having found the sale of Polaris to be illegal, decided to take it over and then sought to withdraw the suit on that grounds .
Meanwhile, defence counsel (Makanjuola) argued that since the plaintiff had commenced the action by way of originating summons for which issues had been joined by parties, he cannot seek to withdraw the same.
He argued that plaintiff had not sought to file his discontinuance within 14 days of receiving the counter affidavit of the defence, adding that issues had already been joined .
Makanjuola insisted that in the circumstances, the appropriate order for the court to make is a dismissal of the suit.
Besides, he reminded the court of an earlier order awarding cost of N200,000 against the plaintiff at the last adjourned date, which had not been obeyed, adding that the plaintiff ought to first obey the court’s order .
This position was also adopted by the second defence counsel.
In response, Falana pointed out that defence counsel ought to extend commendations to him, for his ability to bring such a public interest case before the court in the interest of Nigerians.
Falana argued that it is the responsibility of every well-meaning Nigerian to protect the interest of his country which he had done by coming to court in such a suit.
He submitted that 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 so should not attract any punitive measures from the court.
The court, however, held that since issues had been joined, the appropriate order to make is a dismissal
Justice Allagoa consequently, dismissed the suit but rescinded the cost previously awarded against the defendant.
A similar suit by Falana against the Price Control Board (PCB) is pending before the court
However, when the case was called, there was no representative for the defendants.
Falana told the court that he was earlier informed by the Attorney General that he would send a representative to court but none is available as can be seen.
He consequently, sought to take a further date for the case.
The court adjourned the later suit until February 7.