How court stopped CBN from collecting discriminatory bank charges

Court dismisses suit seeking disqualification of Tinubu, Peter Obi

A federal high court at Awka Anambra State has faulted the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for imposing discriminatory bank charges on some categories of cash depositors.

The Moment Nigeria gathered that charges go-between N500, 000.00 and above in selected six states and the FCT.

The judgement followed the Suit FHC/AWK/CS/91/2020 filed by one Barrister Chijioke Ifediora.

Ifediora in the suit challenged the said CBN action in which he stated that the charge was ultra vires, illegal and unconstitutional.

The CBN had through two Circulars tagged   BPS/DIR/GEN/CIR/04/004 and PSM/DIR/CON/CWO/02/014 which is published on 20th April, 2017 and 17th September 2019 respectively imposed the charges.

Ifediora urged the Court presided over by Mr. Justice Nnamdi Dimgba to, considering the provisions of Sections 1 (3 ), 2 (1) and Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), determine whether the said two CBN Circulars are not discriminatory, ultra virus, unconstitutional and illegal.

The plaintiff (Ifediora) said he decided to sue the CBN because on January 7th 2020, he went to his bank in Awka, Anambra State, to make cash lodgement of N600, 000 into his account, and was told that he would not be allowed to effect the deposit without paying the charge in accordance with the CBN Circular PSM/DIR/CON/CWO/02/014.

Ifediora consequently urged the court to grant three reliefs and make five Declaratory Orders on the matter.

The Reliefs were that the said two CBN Circulars are ultra vires, unconstitutional and illegal, conflict with Section 1(3), Section 2(1) and Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and that the charges emanating from the implementation of the two CBN Circulars are illegal and unlawful.

The five Declaratory Orders the Plaintiff (Ifediora) sought were: for the CBN to refund all citizens and corporate bodies operating in Anambra the illegal or unlawful charges collected from them in implementing the said Circulars,

Counsel for the CBN, Chief Musa M.Tolani, an Aba based Legal Practitioner, in his submission, argued that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute the suit, adding that he is a meddlesome interloper, since he did not have the authority of all the citizens and corporate institutions residing in Anambra, Abia, Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Rivers and FCT, and failed to show how the policy affected him injuriously more than the rest of the residents of the states being sought to be protected.

He added that the policy was introduced to facilitate the implementation of the CBN well-intentioned and worthy cashless policy for the overall well-being of the nation’s economy.

Delivering his judgement, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba was inclined to agree with the plaintiff that the policy was discriminatory before its general application across the federation, hence the suit is challenging the lawfulness of the action of the CBN, which is a Federal Government agency stressing that Section 252(1)(p) of the Constitution has vested the court with the jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court to dispose of matters like that.

While he agreed with the plaintiff that the CBN policy was discriminatory and offended section 42 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) in the first three reliefs sought by plaintiff but he refused to grant his five consequential Orders sought from the Court.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba explained that his refusal to grant the five consequential Orders was because it was admitted during oral hearings that the policy is now of nationwide application.