Ramon Oladimeji

A Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned till November 19, 2015 to hear a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by KPMG Professional Services against the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria and its Executive Secretary, Mr. Jim Obazee.
KPMG, which sued alongside a partner in the company, Mr. Ayodele Othihiwa, is seeking compensation for exemplary and aggravated damages in the sum of N100m from the respondents.

The applicants claimed that the respondents violated their rights to fair hearing in a “wanton, illegal, oppressive and unconstitutional manner.”

They filed the suit following the October 26, 2015 decision of FRC to suspend Othihiwa, pending the outcome of an investigation into the complicity of KPMG into alleged irregularities in financial statements of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc for 2013 and 2014.

The applicants are seeking a court declaration that the respondents or anyone acting under their authority cannot take any disciplinary action against them or give effect to the said October 26, 2015 decision.

They are seeking an order setting aside the said decision of the respondents dated October 26, 2015 and contained in a document titled “Regulatory decision; in the matter of financial statements of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc for the years ended 31st December 2013 and 2014.”

The applicants claimed that by issuing that document on them, the respondents had violated their constitutional right to fair hearing and also acted contrary to the provisions of Section 62(2) of the Financial Reporting Act.

Their lawyer, Mr. Babatunde Fagbohunlu (SAN), also claimed that the respondents breached Section 15(2) b of the FRC Act, adding that the respondents failed to exhaust the provisions of its own law, by denying the applicants the right of appeal to the Technical and Oversight Committee and by subjecting its decision to the approval of the FRC board.

At the resumed proceedings before Justice Ibrahim Buba on Wednesday, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Norrison Quakers, announced appearance for the FRC but said he had just been briefed and needed time to study the case file so as to be able to respond to the plaintiffs’ claims.

On his own part, Fagbohunlu told the court that he had yet to effect service of the court processes on the 2nd respondent, saying there might be need for him to bring an applicant for substituted service.

After listening to the parties, the judge adjourned further proceedings in the suit till November 19, 2015.
The applicants had last week obtained an order of interim injunction barring the respondents from sanctioning them pending the determination of the substantive suit.

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