Stanbic IBTC bank has faulted the decision of the Federal High Court to dismiss its case against the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC) and National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP).
Following FRC’s decision to suspend the bank’s chairman, Atedo Peterside, and other senior officials over alleged accounting irregularities in the bank’s 2013 and 2014 financial statements, Stanbic IBTC had approached the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking a declaration that regulatory agency had no power to impose a fine of N1 billion on it.
The bank had also asked the court to determine whether or not the FRC had the power to either license or suspend directors and other office holders of public interest entities.
Similarly, the bank asked the court to determine whether “the true construction of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) Act 1979 was non-registration of an agreement registerable under the NOTAP Act was a criminal offence”.
But, Justice Buba of the Federal High Court had dismissed the case, declaring that the questions raised by Stanbic IBTC regarding FRC were “hypothetical and academic”.
Justice Buba held that Section 7 of the NOTAP Act 1979 expressed one of Nigeria’s most important national public policy, namely to avoid the dumping of obsolete and inappropriate technology in the country as well as to raise revenue for the government.
Any agreement that sought to circumvent the registration requirements under the NOTAP Act, Justice Buba explained, would be difficult to enforce by the courts.
Regardless, Stanbic IBTC said on Tuesday that it had already exercised its constitutional right by filling an appeal at the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.
According to the bank, indications were that Justice Buba did not appear to have addressed the position where an agreement was submitted for registration and NOTAP refused to register it.
The bank said a situation where an agreement was for a number of years and NOTAP gave approval to enable the bank make payment for some, not all the years, was abnormal.
“Given that none of Stanbic IBTC’s agreements that are pending with NOTAP seeks to circumvent NOTAP Act, Stanbic IBTC awaits the written judgment to enable it understand the decision regarding the meaning and application of section 7 of the NOTAP Act 1979 and the implications of the decision,” the bank said in a statement.
Based on the legal advice of its counsel, Fidelis Oditah, Stanbic IBTC bank said it had a sound basis for the appeal, adding that as a law-abiding corporation, it would continue to respect the rule of law and comply with extant Nigerian law.