The appellant is an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria responsible for regulating banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria. The 1st respondent is a company carrying on business in Nigeria. The 2nd respondent is the banker of the 1st respondent. The 1st respondent holds a domiciliary account with the 2nd respondent. In a bid to carry out several transactions in furtherance of its business objectives, the 1st respondent requested that the 2nd respondent transfer foreign currency from its domiciliary account to named beneficiaries. The 2nd respondent declined the request on the ground that there was a directive promulgated in a notice by the appellant directing the bank not to honour the request. Consequently, the 1st respondent was denied access to its foreign currency domiciled with the 2nd respondent.
The 1st respondent was aggrieved and filed a suit against the appellant and the 2nd respondent at the Federal High Court, Lagos Division alleging violation of its rights. The appellant filed a preliminary objection to the hearing of the suit on the ground that the acts alleged to have been done against the business interest of the 1st respondent is statute barred by virtue of the Public Officers Protection Act and that the suit was incompetent having been filed after the three months period allowed under that law for pursuing claims against a public officer. The appellant argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter. After hearing the parties on the application, the trial judge dismissed the application and assumed jurisdiction to hear the matter. And the end of trial, judgment was given in favour of the 1st respondent. The appellant was aggrieved and filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division.
The major issue in the appeal is whether the appellant has the power to interfere with the business interests of the 1st respondent by ordering the 2nd respondent not to honour the request of the 1st respondent and placing of restrictions on the domiciliary account of the 1st respondent.
Held: (Unanimously dismissing the appeal)