Polaris Bank is in the news for the wrong reason again. This time three businesswomen and customers dragged the bank before a Surulere Magistrate Court in Lagos over alleged freezing of their domiciliary and Naira accounts with the bank and subsequent illegal deductions on the said accounts amounting to about $30,769 (USD).
The applicants – Mrs. Adebomi Orogun, Mrs. Kehinde Banjo, and Mrs. Oluwatoyin Ode, in an originating application brought pursuant to Order 1 Rule 2 of the Magistrates’ Courts Civil Procedure Rules of Lagos State (2009), accused the bank of freezing their USD (US Dollar), Euro and Naira accounts with the bank without a valid court order.
They said the bank proceeded to make unauthorized deductions from their accounts without any justification whatsoever as there was no time they were accused of engaging in fraudulent activities with the said accounts.
In her affidavit in support of the application, the first applicant (Orogun) who maintained USD, Euro and Naira accounts with Polaris Bank, said the bank usually deducts the requisite commission after every transaction she made.
According to her, “I regularly transact on my Euro account (3049994742) with the bank. I recently wanted to transfer money with my Euro account, only to discover that I no longer have access to make any transaction.
“I also discovered that there was no available balance left in my USD account. I was confused and had to make an inquiry with the bank to know the reason why I no longer have access to my Euro account and why my USD account was cleared out. However, I was informed by the Bank that they had not been deducting the proper commission per transaction on my account which they only commence later and ultimately led to my USD account being cleared out.
“This action carried out by the Bank was done entirely without recourse to me, who believed that all due commissions had been deducted and I had enough balance to plan my life with. On the 4th of March, 2022, I was shocked to discover that all my accounts (USD, EURO and Naira) with the respondent (Polaris Bank) had been frozen and a post no debit order was placed on them.”
Orogun said she was neither informed nor given a satisfactory reason for the cruel act by the respondent, adding: “I did not engage in any fraudulent activity nor have I been officially accused of same by the bank. Hence, the freezing and placing of a post no debit on my accounts was totally unnecessary.”
She said the actions of the respondent greatly disrupted her business activities and also subjected her to financial cruelty with no hope as to when her accounts would be unfrozen.
“The actions of the respondent have also caused financial distress due to my inability to complete pending transactions,” she averred.
The two other applicants deposed to similar facts in their affidavit in support of the application, narrating to the court how the alleged cruel act of the bank had caused them great discomfort and economic setback.
They said they had written to the bank to unfreeze their accounts and return the illegal deductions made, all to no avail, a development that necessitated the filing of the matter before the court.
The applicants are, therefore, asking the court to give an order directing the bank to revert their accounts back to the status quo as of 17th January 2022.
They are also asking for an order mandating Polaris Bank to pay them N10million as damages for the financial hardship caused to them by the actions of the bank.
When the matter came up before the Surulere Magistrate Court on Wednesday, the court said there was no proof that the respondent had been served.The matter was adjourned till June 2022.
Police launch manhunt for Sterling Bank staff for Stealing customers’ N300m
The Delta State Police Command on Sunday says it has begun search for a female staff of Sterling Bank in Effurun Branch, Delta State for allegedly disappearing with customers’ money to the tune of N300 milion.
Police Public Relations Officer in the State, DSP Bright Edafe who confirmed this to our correspondent, said that the suspect, a female staff (name withheld) allegedly defrauded customers of the bank she works in the sum of N300million, adding that the police were seriously looking for her.
DSP Bright Edafe said that the female banker was said to have approached some account owners to grant her permission to be using their money for business while she would be giving the customers certain percentage every month, adding that this was not to be as it was discovered last week by one of the customers that the woman stopped coming to work and an attempt to reach her on phone was unsuccessful as her lines were switched off.
It was gathered that on getting to her house around Living Faith Church at Water Resources, Effurun where she lived, it was alleged that she had also absconded as one of her colleagues said that the female banker did business with customers’ money with their consent while it backfired when many people she gave money to refused to pay back, a situation that had kept her hiding from the people.
Edafe said that the police will do everything possible to arrest her, disclosing that her co-workers denied her whereabouts when the incident happened upon police investigation, adding that there has been palpable tension laced with threats to sack her co-workers who assisted her to ensure that she was allowed to be using the funds when they pleaded with the owners of the money.
He also revealed that her husband had been invited for questioning.
Kontongs Bello, Police Public Relations Officer, who confirmed this to journalists, said that the suspect is wanted for many cases that bothered on robbery, stealing among others, adding that the police will do everything possible to smoke him from his hideout.
Oriental Energy in 4m Dollar Debt Mess
The Federal high court sitting in Lagos, south west Nigeria has adjourned till 28 of September,2022, when hearing will commence in a case of debt recovery of USD4,143,856.70 filed against Oriental Energy Resources Company by Borr International Operation drilling company,being an alleged outstanding approved and unpaid invoices for the drilling services rendered in accordance with Contract for the provision of Jack-Up Drilling Unit and Drilling Rig Services rendered in the Defendant’s Ebok Field in OML 67.
The drilling company in a suit filed by its lawyer, Barrister,Gabriel Uduafi is also praying the court for interest on US$ 4,143,856.70 million based on the current London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), one month interest rate increased by 5 percent and calculated pro data on a daily basis from 6th October, 2021, till the date of liquidation of the judgement debt.
In its statement of claim, the Plaintiff stated that by the relevant provisions of the contract, the Drilling Operations, which the Plaintiff was engaged to carry out was required to be done within the Firm Term of 120 days.
It stated that going by the relevant provisions of the Contract, there was no fixed-or set target that the Plaintiff was obligated to achieve, as the Contract was not a turnkey but a day rate’ contract; and to this effect, Clauses and Schedule of the Contract explicitly set out the various rates to include Operating Rate, Standby Rate, Repair Rate, . Force Majeure Rate, Redrill Rate, Moving Rate and Zero Kate.
The plaintiff stated that the Lump Sum payments under the contract are the Mobilization cost of $450,000 and the
Demobilization cost of $250,000, a sum Which become due and payable upon the completion of the contract.
However,following the default in making payment as stipulated under the Contract, the plaintiff wrote to the Defendant both by mail and letters, demanding for the payment of the outstanding and approved invoices and that the Defendant wrote replies raising issues and points that are completely alien to the Contract as its reason for not making the payment.
The Plaintiff contended that in setting up a completely ridiculous claim, the Defendant claimed spread cost for nonproductive time (NPT) in the total sum of US$3,437,500.00 where there is no provision in the Contract to support such claim.
The Plaintiff added that following series of engagement , it was compelled to instruct its lawyers to issue a demand for the payment of the invoices, and by a letter dated 19th January, 2022 the Plaintiffs Solicitors delivered a formal demand for the payment of some of the outstanding invoices in the sum of US$2,533,749.12 net of taxes.
Rather than simply honour its payment obligation under the Contract and credit the Plaintiff with the value of the invoices, the Defendant caused its Solicitors to reply the Plaintiff’s formal demand by the letter dated 26th January, 2022 by which the Defendant now seeks to claim the sum of $10,511,754.00 as spread cost for non-productive time (NPT) and consequential loss, as against the sum of US$3,437,500.00 initially set up by the Defendant in its earlier engagement with the Plaintiff.
The plaintiff added that in accordance with the provisions of the Contract, the same came to completion on 10th October, 2021 when the Plaintiff’s Drilling Unit left the Defendant’s Ebok Field OML 67.
Plaintiff avers that by the Completion Date, the lump sum Demobilization Rate of US$250,000 became due and payable.
The reasons given by the Defendant in refusing to honour its payment obligation under the Contract are flimsy, frivolous, vexatious and ultra vires, the provisions of the Contract between the Parties, and having approved the invoices, the defendant is obligated to make the payment within the stipulated 30 days under the Contract.
Consequently,excuses given by the Defendant in failing to honour its contractual obligations to the Plaintiff are simply provocative, as same are not supported or derived from the Contract.
The Plaintiff is being denied of the payment due to it in respect of the services rendered to the Defendant
as a result of which the Defendant is indebted to the Plaintiff to the tune of US$4,143,856.70 as stipulated under Clause 11.2 of the Contract.
It will be in the interest of justice to grant all the reliefs claimed in this suit adding that except the Court intervenes and grant the reliefs sought, the Defendant will continue to default in the payment of the invoices which have been duly approved for payment by the Plaintiff.
In its defence, Oriental Energy Resources Limited stated that the company is not indebted to the Plaintiff in the manner alleged in it’s claim or in any manner whatsoever as the invoices upon which the alleged debt purportedly arose are disputed by the defendant.
The Defendant stated that the Plaintiff misled it into agreeing to the mobilisation of the drilling rig to commence the contract, by fraudulently misrepresenting to the Defendant that its drilling rig, Borr Natt, was suitable for the Defendant’s Drilling Programme.
In an affidavit deposed to by Abraham Faga, a Well Engineering Manager in the Defendant company, he stated that the Defendant is not indebted to the Plaintiff in the way and manner alleged in its claim or in any way and manner whatsoever as the Defendant is disputing the invoices upon which the purported debt arose.
He averred that without the Plaintiff’s fraudulent misrepresentations, the Defendant would never have commenced the contract and approved mobilisation of the drilling unit, hence the issue of Plaintiff’s invoices which were issued within the contract would never have arisen.
He added that the Defendant would, be claiming for a refund of all payments it has so far made to the Plaintiff as the payments were fraudulently obtained.
He claimed that due to the Plaintiff’s fraudulent misrepresentation, the purported execution of the contract was completely appalling with non-productive time of over 25 days attributed to rig related repairs which is unprecedented in the industry for drilling operations.
He stated that the Plaintiff hastily commenced this suit under undefended list to mislead the court into believing that the Defendant has no defence to its claims.
The deponent further stated that Justice will be better served if the Defendant is allowed to defend the suit.
He urged the court to transfer the suit to Ordinary Cause List for a complete and holistic determination of all issues in controversy.
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