Top Executives from 13 Banks Face Legal Action by GTBank Over N17 Billion Loan Dispute

By Joke Kujenya

SIXTY HIGH-ranking executives from 13 commercial banks have been hurled into legal proceedings by Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) as the conflict over a N17 billion Anchor Borrowers Programme loan involving GTBank and Afex Commodity Exchange continues to escalate.

The executives, including chairmen, CEOs, directors, and company secretaries, are facing contempt charges for allegedly failing to comply with a No-Debit-Order placed on Afex Commodity Exchange’s accounts as the development follows a Federal High Court ruling in Lagos, presided over by Justice CJ Aneke, ordering their commitment to jail for disobeying the court’s May 27, 2024, directive.

In the lawsuit, identified as FHC/L/CS/911/2024, it mandates that funds from the respondent’s accounts be transferred to Afex’s account with GTBank until the outstanding loan of N17.81 billion is fully repaid.

The sum includes the principal amount of N15.77 billion and additional recovery costs of N2.04 billion.

Parties cited for contempt include major financial institutions such as Access Bank, Citibank, Jaiz Bank, Union Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank of Nigeria, First City Monument Bank, NDIC (acting as liquidator for Heritage Bank), Polaris Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Taj Bank, United Bank for Africa, and Zenith Bank.

The court’s order also permits GTBank to take control of and liquidate commodities stored in 16 Afex warehouses across seven states to recover the loan, which was initially intended to finance smallholder farmers under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme.

In response, Afex claims to have repaid 90% of the loan, attributing delays to adverse economic conditions, including the Naira redesign policy, which severely impacted farmers’ productivity and repayment capabilities. Afex has called on the CBN to activate a collateral guarantee clause to mitigate the risk and support ongoing agricultural activities.

The case has been adjourned to next Thursday for further hearings.

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