The Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, who announced this during a press briefing on Thursday, also reinstated Sola Adeduntan as the managing director and chief executive officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited.
The directors of the bank had at its board meeting, removed Adeduntan as its MD and announced the appointment of Gbenga Shobo as its new Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer.
The board of First Bank of Nigeria Limited stated that Shobo’s appointment was with immediate effect and is subject to all regulatory approvals.
But on Wednesday, the CBN queried the board of directors over the removal of Sola Adeduntan, without due consultation with regulatory authorities.
“The CBN was not made aware of any report from the board indicting the managing director of any wrong-doing or misconduct; there appears to be no apparent justification for the precipitate removal,” the letter signed by Haruna Mustafa, CBN’s director of banking supervision, read.
“We are particularly concerned because the action is coming at a time the CBN has provided various regulatory forbearances and liquidity support to reposition the bank, which has enhanced its asset quality, capital adequacy and liquidity ratios amongst other prudential indicators.
“It is also curious to observe that the sudden removal of the MD/CEO was done about eight months to the expiry of his second tenure, which is due on December 31, 2021.”
Speaking during the press briefing on Thursday, Emefiele said the apex bank suspected that the board removed Adeduntan because he took some decisions which were not in line with the major shareholders of the bank “who felt hurt and felt he should be removed”.
“This is a bank were depositors’ fund is almost 10 times shareholders’ fund, our interest is to protect depositors and minority shareholders who have no voice in this business. We will not sit idle and allow this to continue,” Emefiele said.
“I spoke to Mr. Oba Otudeko (chairman of First Bank Holdings), he refused to grant my entreaties. I had to call two of his major shareholders to call him to ask the board not to take such decisions without the approval of the CBN. He refused to pick the calls of these shareholders — who are also owners of the bank.
“I called him the second time, I heard on another phone one of the shareholders begging him not to take that decision, he insisted on taking that decision. I sent the shareholder back to the office of Mr. Oba Otudeko to appeal to him to suspend the decision, he refused to see the shareholder. I feel we have done our best and we would not allow a shareholder who cannot subject himself to regulatory control and authority to remain as the director of a bank.”
Emefiele also reassured First Bank of Nigeria depositors, creditors and other stakeholders of the bank of its commitment to ensure the stability of the financial system insisting that it acted to protect 31 million customers, minority shareholders of First Bank of Nigeria Ltd.