Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
Ten years after Savannah Bank’s licence was restored by a court judgement, indications emerged at the weekend that the management is set to resume operations, soon.
Sources close to the owners of the bank said the massive renovation works ongoing at its over 118 branches across the country are eloquent testimony that the bank which went into coma years ago due to some technical insolvency may eventually open for business in no distant time
Savannah Bank was one of the leading banks in the country between 1999 and 2000. But the institution suddenly plunged into the murky waters of politics and got trapped with depositors’ funds leading to the death of many.
At the time of its forceful closure, Savannah Bank had nearly 85,000 shareholders, a share capital of N1 billion, and 118 branches. Its depositors were in hundreds of thousands.
Before the suspension of its operating license, the bank showed no obvious or remote signs of distress that could have precipitated its closure. The much that was disclosed was that the bank committed some infractions against extant regulations owing to alleged non -professionalism in some aspects of its operations.
However, a three-member Court of Appeal panel suddenly ruled that the bank’s closure was “unlawful as we have found that it was done in bad faith”.
Perhaps, the ‘bad faith’ was demonstrated shortly before its licence was revoked when both the CBN and NDIC demanded that Savannah Bank recapitalise with N5.4 billion within three months. The bank’s plea for a year’s grace to increase its capital base was rejected.
The bank’s misfortune however led to job losses in the banking industry given its spread and number of branches across the country,with government o’s failure to bail out the ailine institution .
Although the court awarded N100 million damages against the CBN and NDIC, as against the N100 billion claims of Savannah Bank, the amount was insufficient to restream the bank that had spent hugely on litigations in a bid to revalidate its licence.
In the aftermath of its suspension of business, several deposit and staff of the bank were said to have died on hearing on hearing the sudden revocation of the bank’s licence. There were also other Nigerians whose hopes and aspirations were cut short over Savannah Bank’s misfortune. However, stakeholders have said that the reason the bank has not taken off several years after its restoration was for fear that depositors whose monies had been tied down for over a decade would want to withdraw their money and cause another run on the bank in the process.