NAICOM: Court fixes suit challenging recapitalisation of insurance, reinsurance coys for Sept 2
The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja on Wednesday, fixed Sept. 2 for definite hearing in a suit seeking to stop the National Insurance Commission, NAICOM, from proceeding with its planned recapitalisation process of insurance and reinsurance companies in the country.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed fixed the date after taking arguments from counsel representing the parties in the matter.
Although Justice Mohammed did not give an order, restraining NAICOM from continuing with the recapitalisation process, he, however, cautioned that no further action should be taken by the defendant (NAICOM) until the matter was heard.
“I want to see if the defendant (NAICOM) will take further step between now and the date for definite hearing.
“I will adjourn for hearing and let me see if the defendant will overreach me.
“I don’t think they will do anything. They will not. It is a dangerous time now because the two of you now know that the matter has been fixed for hearing and any action taken will amount to interfering in the matter,” the judge assured the plaintiffs.
While the Incorporated Trustees of Standard Shareholders Association of Nigeria and Mr Godwin Augustine Anono are 1st and 2nd plaintiffs respectively, NAICOM is the sole defendant in the suit.
NAICOM had, in circulars numbered: NAICOM/DPR/CIR/25/19 of May 20, 2019; NAICOM/DPR/CIR/25-02/2019 of July 23, 2019 and NAICOM/DPR/CIR/25-03/2019 of Dec. 30, 2019, directed all insurance and reinsurance companies in Nigeria to increase their minimum paid-up share capital not later than Sept. 30, 2021.
The plaintiffs, through their Lawyer, Ayodele Akintunde, SAN, had argued that the regulatory body acted without compliance with the requirements of the law, asking the court to stop the recapitalisation move.
At Wednesday’s sitting, Akintunde informed the court that the matter was slated for the defendant to respond to affidavit of facts.
“Essentially, the business of today is for my law to determine whether the defendant had shown cause on why the order should not be granted.
“Yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), I received a counter-affidavit with the affidavit of facts from the defendant.
“And this morning about 11:35am, I received a further and better affidavit from the defendant counsel.
“I will also like to draw your attention to the fact that we have filed a counter-affidavit to the preliminary objection filed by my learned SAN,” he said.
He pointed out that the argument of the defendant had been whether the court had jurisdiction to entertain the matter, instead of responding to the main suit.
When the judge asked Counsel to the defendant, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, on whether the commission had responded to the substantive suit, he said it was yet to file its response.
Ume said he was in court only to respond to the court order that NAICOM should show cause why the prayers sought by the plaintiffs should not be granted.
“Mr Ume, the fact that you are showing cause does not mean you should not respond to the main suit?,” the judge told NAICOM’s lawyer.
Ume, however, explained that the 30-day period, as stipulated by the Federal High Court Rule, to respond to the suit had not elapsed.
“Our time to file defence to the main suit is still running. We were served on Aug. 17 and the process gave us 30 days to respond.
“We have submitted a cogent reason to say that the interim order they sought is not right.
“Our 30-day is still running from the day we were served and that is why we are here today only to show cause,” he said.
Akintunde, who expressed fear that NAICOM might continue with its planned recapitalisation despite the pendency of the matter in court, said: “My lord, there is no evidence before your lordship to show that they have responded to the processes in accordance with the court rule.”
“The only complaint they have is whether your lordship have jurisdiction to hear the case.”
He restated how NAICOM issued a fresh circular directing the insurance and reinsurance companies to commence the recapitalisation process on Aug. 17, the date it received the enroll order of the court.
“I am interested in the hearing of the matter expeditiously but my lord should give an order for the status quo to remain,” he enjoined.
Justice Mohammed, who noted that the matter had been adjourned for the second time, said: “My honest opinion is to fix this matter for hearing today (Wednesday).”
He, however, adjourned the suit until Sept. 2 for definite hearing.(NAN)