By CHIMA TITUS NWOKOJI
The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has released about $11 million (circa N1.072 billion) to Savannah Bank of Nigeria (SBN), to facilitate its return to the Nigerian financial market. The corporation, in its 2011 Annual Report and Statement of Accounts, said it released N450 million to the bank in 2009 plus a balance of N460 million.
It explained that another N162 million belonging to the bank had also been released in 2011. Savannah Bank had its operating licence revoked by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on February 15, 2002 over alleged grave financial condition, which culminated in the total erosion of its capital base and inability to meet statutory obligations to customers and other stakeholders. The bank was also alleged to have failed to comply with other obligations specified by the CBN.
However, following a spirited legal battle by directors of the bank, the Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja and presided over by Justice U. M. Abba’aji, on February 5, 2009, ordered that the licence be reinstated to the bank. The Court of Appeal proceeded to prescribe six months within which SBN should capitalize, a deadline that expired in July 2009, without the bank being able to meet the financial requirements to resume operation.
Since then, the Nigerian business community has been looking up to the directors of Savannah Bank to raise a statutory N25 billion needed to operate as a national deposit money bank. Given the constraints that the directors of Savannah Bank are having, raising the minimum capitalization to enable the bank resume business, some observers are of the view that the bank may enter the market as a regional bank, which means that they will need to raise additional N9 billion to add to the N1billion from NDIC to make up the N10 billion needed to operate as a regional bank.
At a recent workshop in Jigawa State, Director, Insurance and Surveillance Department of the NDIC, Mr. Zaccheaous Anete, while assuring depositors of defunct Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN) Limited, of safety of their deposits as the bank begins operation soon, said Savannah Bank would follow suit. According to him: “Very soon, Savannah will follow the same process that SGBN followed. The owners have been making frantic efforts, working together with CBN and NDIC to make sure they are back to the system.
“There are a lot of things we do in terms of supervision and resolution that may not be made known to the public. But I want to assure you that depositors in those banks will not lose their money. It is just a matter of time,” he affirmed. For any depositor, Anete said NDIC stands ready to pay. This is because the money the corporation uses is not the money from the assets of the liquidated banks. “The money we are using to pay depositors is the premium contributed by banks into a deposit insurance fund. That money is there but we cannot go against the law.
We are a law abiding institution.” It would be recalled that as part of the strategic plan to re-launch the Savannah Bank brand into the competitive banking market in Nigeria, top management of the bank in December 2011 held a three-day strategy session facilitated by its financial advisers, PriceWater Coopers (PWC) Global network at its Abuja head office annex. Leading the strategy session, Mr. Steve Burke of PWC South Africa and Mr. Ken Igbokwe of Nigeria office, were assertively confident in their presentations that Savannah Bank’s re-entry, given all the efforts and available information, will excel in the core service area being planned.
The NDIC report indicated that the cumulative recovery of assets of closed banks in liquidation had reached about N22.236 billion in 2011 – representing a 2 per cent increase compared to about N21.756 billion recovery made in 2010. A total sum of N13.48 million ($85,558) had also been recovered from closed microfinance banks as at December, 2011, the report shows. While appraising the corporation’s activities in the period under review, Managing Director/Chief Executive, NDIC, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, said the commission commenced payment of insured deposits to the depositors of Triumph and Fortune Banks) which were closed in 2006.
He stated that about N26 million ($165,027) out of N804.35 million ($5.1 million) had been paid to 656 depositors of Fortune Bank in-liquidation while about N1.6 million ($10,155) out of N45.36 million ($287,908) had been paid to 35 depositors of Triumph Bank in-liquidation as at December 2011. According to the NDIC boss: “The NDIC had in the last one year recorded notable achievements in the protection of depositors and promotion of safe, sound and stable banking system in Nigeria.” Ibrahim said: “It is heartwarming to indicate that during the year under review, 3 additional banks in-liquidation, namely: Co-operative and Commerce Bank, Commercial Trust Bank and Ivory Merchant Bank, had declared a final dividend of 100 percent of total deposits.
With that development, 14 of the 34 liquidated banks, prior to 2006, had declared a final dividend of 100 per cent of total deposits, indicating that all their depositors would fully recover their deposits trapped in the banks.” Meanwhile the corporation enhanced the pace of debt recovery as well as payment of uninsured deposits by appointing a number of debt recovery agents and offering for purchase 13 eligible bank assets with total book value of 3.85 billion naira ($24.4 million) to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to boost recovery and facilitate payment last year.