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A Federal high court sitting in Ikoyi,Lagos State, south west Nigeria has adjourned till 31st of March 2022 for hearing, the suit instituted against Heritage Bank of Nigeria by a Lagos Lawyer. Barrister Dada Awosika SAN,over alleged manipulation of his account.

  

Mr. Awosika SAN practices under a business name and style of D.A. Awosika & Partners and who maintain a current account with the bank, alleged thus: that Heritage Bank conscripted him to open the aforementioned account in order that the judgment sum arising from certain terms of settlement executed between his clients (Mr. Olajide Aleshiloye Williams/Otunba Segun Jawando) on one hand and the bank on the other hand in Suit No: LD/7313/2014 between Mr. Olajide Aleshiloye Williams/Otunba Segun Jawando vs. Beach Resorts Nigeria Plc/Heritage Bank Limited be paid into the said account.I

In opening the account the bank detailed one of its senior officials to be his account officer to assist in opening the said account and for proper endorsement and execution of the current account opening package which he properly endorsed leading to normal operation of the said account.

At all material times, he agreed with the bank to run and operate the said current account in line with good banking standard and employ the best ethical and professional manner consistent with global best practice. Further to the aforementioned paragraphs and in line with the consent judgment entered on the 12th of January 2016 between the Plaintiff’s client and the Bank, the bank paid a total sum of N250,000,000.00 into the Plaintiff’s stated account as judgment sum at various times in February, 2016, May 2016 and August 2016 for the benefit of the Plaintiff’s clients who were Claimants in Suit number

LD/7313/2014.

Surprisingly, in the narration contained in the statement of account of the Plaintiff, the bank manipulated the narration and discreetly described the payment as fees to the Plaintiff.

Mr. Awosika, SAN, avers that it was an implied term of the banker-customer relationship between parties herein and of the mandate submitted to the bank by him that the Bank would exercise reasonable skill and care in the running of his account and that at no time will the banking and financial records of the Plaintiff be furnished or made available to a third party except with his consent and/or in a normal execution of a valid and subsisting order of court.

However, in breach of the sacred mandate donated to the bank for the running of the Plaintiff’s account, the bank disclosed, furnished and passed over to the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) the Plaintiff’s financial and banking detail and this ultimately led FIRS to issue notice to the Plaintiff to remit unpaid taxes for 2016/2017 (as Company Income Tax and Value Added Tax (VAT)} directing the Plaintiff to pay the sum of N23,274,166.19 being turn over of N258,601,846.53 in custody of the bank.

The Plaintiff immediately responded to the FIRS letter and debunked the insinuation and misconceptions that the Plaintiff was operating as a limited liability company to pay Income Tax. Thereafter it came as a shock to the Plaintiff that the bank posted POST NO DEBIT on the Plaintiff account without any communication to the Plaintiff in compliance with a directive of FIRS.

Upon protest at the Bank’s premises at Adeola Odeku on the 6th of February, 2019, the bank informed the Plaintiff that the freezing order on the Plaintiff’s account was directed to be placed by FIRS as a result of banking and financial details submitted to FIRS by the Bank The Plaintiff made further protest to FIRS headquarters in Abuja, which later issued directive to the bank to remove the ‘Post No Debit’ and any other freezing orders, placed on the Plaintiff’s account since February 4, 2019. The bank placed this Post No Debit’ on the Plaintiff’s account without any order of court and also the bank furnished the Plaintiff’s banking and financial records to FIRS without order of court or consent of the Plaintiff.

 

The Plaintiff alleged further that he made several transfers and cash deposits into his firm’s account with the bank, When the bank thereafter sent notifications of receipt of this transfers and cash deposits, the Plaintiff discovered that the bank had surreptitiously applied a debit of over N23 Million into the Plaintiff’s firm’s account without notice of such activity to the Plaintiff.

The Plaintiff further avers that the bank appropriated, converted and utilized the entire credit balance in the Plaintiff’s firm’s account as well as all transfers and cash deposits made into the said account in purported satisfaction of repayment obligations in regard to a purported phony debt allegedly outstanding and payable to the bank.

On Wednesday the 20th of November, 2019, the Plaintiff visited the Defendant’s Ashabi Cole branch, Agidingbi, Ikeja being the nearest branch to the Plaintiff’s office to vehemently protest the fraudulent manipulation of his firm’s account but was informed by the manager on duty that the branch could not help him as there was no complaint resolution mechanism available to resolve the issue in that branch.

However, the manager of Ashabi Cole branch of the bank confirmed the debit of over N23Million lumped into the Plaintiff’s firm’s account and advised that the Plaintiff write the bank detailing his complaint to the bank’s Managing Director for expeditious resolution.

The Plaintiff avers that the bank sent his firm’s account’s November, 2019 statement to him on the 2nd of December 2019 and it came as a shock to the Plaintiff that the bank hid or covertly suppressed the debit of over N23Million in the said Plaintiff’s account.

Sequel to this, the Plaintiff made further cash transfers to his account on the 2nd and 7th December, 2019, and surprisingly, when notifications were sent to the Plaintiff, those cash deposits were illegally and wrongfully applied by the bank to a non-existent repayment obligation of the N23Million

cooked up by the bank into the Plaintiff’s firm account.

In a bid to get to the bottom of the fraudulent manipulation of the Plaintiff’s account, the Plaintiff wrote the bank in his letter of December 2, 2019 received the same day to demand for the immediate removal of over N23 Million illegally debited and posted into the Plaintiff’s firm account.

The Plaintiff avers that the bank fraudulently manipulated the Plaintiff’s firm account and posted a bogus debit of over N23Million into the said account without the Plaintiff’s consent and no information was made available to the Plaintiff regarding this illegal and phony debit and there was no court order directing that this debit of over N23 million be posted into the Plaintiff’s account.

 

In the statement of particulars of fraud,the Plaintiff stated that: He has no subsisting repayment obligation arising from any overdraft or transaction involving the use of depositors’ funds at the instance of the Plaintiff to warrant any repayment obligation.

The bank appropriated the credit balance in the Plaintiff’s account in excess of N76,000. in satisfaction of a sham and bogus debit of over N23 Million Naira.

All cash deposits and transfers made into the Plaintiff’s firm’s account were utilized, converted and appropriated by the bank without seeking the Plaintiff’s consent and without an order of court to that effect.

The bank discreetly narrated judgment sum payment to the Plaintiff’s clients as fees paid to the Plaintiff when in fact there were no

narration of services rendered by the Plaintiff to the bank to justify such.

The Defendant disguised the payment of N250 Million to the Plaintiff’s clients as fees to the Plaintiff to avoid payment of VAT and Witholding tax to the relevant government agencies.

The bank operated the Plaintiff’s account outside the standard of good banking practice and that the bank conducted its banking business outside the ethical and professional manner consistent with global best practice;

The bank did not bring to the Plaintiff’s attention the origin/source of the bogus and illegal debit of over N23Million posted to the Plaintiff’s account as against the standard practice for a banking outfit to bring to the attention of their customers any form of activity or information concerning their accounts.

The bank breached the duty to exercise reasonable skill and care as well as that of confidentiality in the running of the Plaintiff’s account.

He did not at any time apply for and utilize any overdraft facility, nor did he apply for credit facility from the bank to justify any set off or appropriation of the Plaintiff’s credit balance or cash deposits made into the Plaintiff’s account.

The Plaintiff shall rely on several Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN)’s circulars and regulations as well as code of conduct in the Nigerian Banking Industry signed to by the bank to prove various violations against the bank espoused above.

The Plaintiff has suffered loss and damage as a result of the fraudulent manipulation of his firm’s account, depriving him access to his much needed funds in the said account and for several violations by the bank of crucial banking ethics and standard.

Consequently the Plaintiff’s claims against the Heritage bank are as follows:

A declaration that the bank was not entitled in law to appropriate and convert to its own use the credit balance of N76,000.00 and several other cash deposits made into the Plaintiff’s firm’s account at various times in purported satisfaction of a non existing debt obligation allegedly owed to the bank by the Plaintiff thus breaching the fiduciary duty and duty of care owed the Plaintiff in the running and operation of the said Plaintiff’s account.

A declaration that the bank fraudulently manipulated the Plaintiff’s firm’s account by surreptitiously hiding, disguising and posting a bogus debt of over N23Million into the Plaintiff ‘s said account and the bank illegally coverted,appropriated and utilized all the credit balance and several other cash deposited into into the Plaintiff’s debit and of said account utilized in purported satisfaction of a non existing debt.

A declaration that the bank failed to exercise reasonable skill and care in carrying out its banking business in relation to the Plaintiff’s firm’s account, when the bank illegally debited the Plaintiff’s account with the sum of over N23Million without any order of court and most importantly when the Plaintiff did not utilize any overdraft nor have any collateral transactional agreement for over draft or trade finance facility on the said account

 

An order of the Court directing the bank to forthwith expunge and reverse the bogus illegal debit of the sum of N23Million applied to the Plaintiff’s firm’s account and also immediately credit the Plaintiff’s account with all sums already appropriated, converted and utilized by the bank with interest at Central Bank Premises (CBN) prime lending rate of 25%

An order of the Court directing the bank to pay the sum of N650Million as general, aggravated, fraudulently manipulating, appropriating and converting the credit balance and other cash deposits made into the Plaintiff’s account and for the bank’s failure to exercise reasonable skill and care in the running of the Plaintiff’s account and for the breach of fiduciary duty and confidentiality.

Cost of this action as the Court may deem fit to order.

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BUA Chairman, Abdul Samad Rabiu Donates 10bn Naira Security Support Fund For Various Interventions Through ASR Africa

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Leading Nigerian Businessman, Industrialist and Philanthropist, Abdul Samad Rabiu, paid a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari today in Abuja, to update him and to thank him for creating an enabling environment for business to thrive, and also brief him on the strides BUA Group has made in the past few years.

 

Thereafter, Rabiu briefed the President on the activities of his foundation, The Abdul Samad Rabiu Africa Initiative (ASR Africa) during which he also announced the donation of a N10billion Nigeria Security Support Fund from ASR Africa towards the provision of some security equipment, medical and other supplies, upgrade of health facilities and other infrastructure for families of those on the frontlines.

 

According to Rabiu, the visit was in order to identify with President Muhammadu Buhari, during whose tenure BUA has built over 10 factories with two of the Group’s subsidiaries now amongst the top 10 largest publicly listed companies in Africa, and to further support the efforts of his administration in business as well as in the security space.

 

In his response, President Buhari said it was heartwarming to see and hear of Nigerian companies doing so much within Nigeria, and Africa especially in the area of production using locally available raw materials. He also expressed his elation at the achievements of BUA which had led to phenomenal growth within such a short time. “As a Government, we know we have done a lot in this regard, and we will continue to do more to support the aspirations of serious businesses, big and small, by providing an enabling environment as well as supporting value creation within Nigeria.

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ECOBANK Staff Connives With Fraudsters To Steal Customer”s N3.2m

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A staff of Ecobank PLC, by name Joshua has been reminded in prison custody following the alleged fraudulent role he played in withdrawing a customer’s N3.2million from the vaults of the bank in connivance with some persons now at large.

 

The arrest of Joshua followed the eagle eye of the Bank’s management that discovered that the customer’s money was missing from the account and when Joshua, who had direct access to the account was asked to explain the circumstances that led to the missing money, he feigned ignorance and denied knowledge of it.

 

Not satisfied with his explanation, the bank situated at the Ile-ewe, Ejigbo branch quickly moved and reported the matter to the Ejigbo Division of the Nigeria Police which immediately dispatched its detectives from the Division of the Command in Lagos State to the bank.

 

 

The police after carrying out preliminary investigation into the case, arrested 28years old Joshua, a staff of the bank alleged to have connived with criminals and withdrew the customer’s N3.2m lodged with the bank.

 

It was gathered that the alleged fraud took place in May this year at Ejigbo branch of the bank where the suspect, Joshua, was employed and served as a staff.

 

The police after its investigation, alleged that sometime in May 2022, the suspect, Joshua, conspired with others now at large to steal by fraudulently diverting the customer’s money kept in the bank with the intention that it will not be discovered by the bank management.

 

 

Joshua was accordingly charged before the Ejigbo Magistrate Court for the alleged conspiracy and theft.

 

Joshua however pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him by the police when he appeared before the Chief Magistrate O.A. Dosumu.

 

Following his not guilty submission, the police prosecutor, Inspector Simeon Njue, asked the Court to give a date for hearing to enable the prosecution to prove that he actually committed the alleged offence.

 

 

Magistrate Dosumu however, granted Joshua bail in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum, who the court ruled must show evidence of means of livelihood.

 

Joshua was however remanded at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre, Lagos, pending when he will be able to perfect his bail conditions.

 

The matter was adjourned till October 6, 2022, for mention.

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