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Falana writes CBN over controversial plot to sell Polaris Bank for N40 billion

Human rights lawyer and activist Femi Falana has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria to provide information detailing the proposed N40 billion sale of Polaris Bank Ltd., a bank that was rescued with N1.2 trillion taxpayers’ funds since its 2018 nationalisation.

Peoples Gazette in August exclusively reported that the apex bank was proceeding secretly but firmly to sell Polaris Bank Ltd to an obscure businessman for roughly N40 billion according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Citing The Gazette report, Mr Falana wrote the CBN on August 25 to demand details of the shady transaction or risk a lawsuit at a Federal High Court.

Mr Falana had based his request on the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, a law that mandates the CBN to accede to the demand within seven days of receiving the letter.

“We have however read in the People’s Gazette online medium that the Central Bank has concluded arrangements to sell the Polaris Bank at a ridiculous sum of N40 Billion,” wrote the human rights lawyer. “In view of the foregoing, kindly furnish us with detailed information on the proposed sale of the Polaris Bank Nigeria Limited including the name of the lucky buyer.”

The CBN, not denying the sale, acknowledged the receipt of Mr Falana’s letter and responded that the “information being sought, where available, will be communicated to you in due course.”

The response was signed by Aminu Mohammed, director of the apex bank on September 1. 

Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor has been fingered as the key negotiator scheming with others to close the deal in a hurry for N40 billion, rather than publicly list the bank for sale and squeeze more for Nigerians.

Sources close to The Gazette had disclosed Mr Emefiele had secured a presidential approval to sell the bank to Auwal Lawan Abdullahi, a son-in-law to Ibrahim Babangida, who holds the Sarkin Sudan Gombe traditional title from the northeastern state, despite his limited credentials in banking and finance.

“Emefiele and others convinced the president to grant approval for the sale and they’re now moving to crush anyone standing in the way,” a source briefed on the matter said. “They don’t seem to care that they could do more than sell the bank for more than the roughly N40 billion offer they currently have from their secret talks.”

The sale, if it goes through, could see Nigerian taxpayers lose around 97 per cent of state investment in Polaris. As of December 2020, AMCON investment in the bank stood at N848 billion, per company filings, with insiders saying an additional N350 billion was poured in between January 2021 and July 2022.

Source: GazetteNGR

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