Ex-Director Wants Bank Wound Up


Unity Bank may cease to exist if a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, South West Nigeria, accedes to the request of the former executive director of Centre Point Merchant Bank Plc, Mr. Peter Onuminya, that the bank should be wound up due to its insolvency and incapability of paying its debts.


According to a petition filed before the court, what led to the current legal action started sometimes in February 2003, when Mr. Onumunya resigned his appointment from Centre Point Merchant Bank, being one of the banks that merged in December 2005 to form Unity Bank Plc.


In consideration of his meritorious services of reviving the bank and turning its fortunes around, the bank agreed to pay him N57.50 million as disengagement package, but surprisingly, after formal documentation of the agreement between the plaintiff and the bank, the chairman refused to pay the amount.


Thereafter, the bank’s chairman allegedly resorted to threatening the plaintiff’s life just for him to abandon the demand for his money.


The matter was reported to the police, which, in its investigation, authenticated the chairman’s signature, authorising payment of the money which the bank has now refused to pay.


Consequent upon the merger and consolidation of Centre Point Merchant Bank with others to form Unity Bank Plc, the bank now became liable to pay the plaintiff the said amount.


Although the defendant did not deny the plaintiff’s claim, it refused to pay him and consequently, he filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Lagos, claiming N57.50 million.

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However, the bank did not file any notice of defence to the suit and this necessitated the plaintiff to file an application urging the court to enter final judgment against the bank and in his favour.


Acceding to the plaintiff’s request, Justice Jonathan Shakaro’s judgment of 12 December, 2007 was in favour of the plaintiff, asking the bank to pay the N57.50 million due to him as his entitlement in consideration of his meritorious service to the bank.


Interest on the said sum until it is finally liquidated and a cost of N65,000 was also awarded against the bank.


However, the bank filed an application to set aside the judgment which was dismissed and consequently, the bank filed another application of stay of execution of the judgment at the Court of Appeal.


Granting the application for stay of execution of the judgment, the Court ordered Unity Bank to pay into an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, N57.50 million at any branch of First Bank of Nigeria Plc if the appeal is not entered for hearing within 45 days. The cost of N5,000 was awarded in favour of the plaintiff.


Meanwhile, Unity Bank has not filed any appeal since 23 March, 2010, when the ruling was delivered, neither did it pay the judgment sum into any bank nor the plaintiff and in view of this, he has filed a winding up petition against the bank, alleging that it is insolvent and incapable of paying its debts pursuant to the provision of Section 409 and 410 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act Cap C20 Laws of the Federation 2004.


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