BrandArena: Court orders GTbank to refund N5.3b illegally withdrew from customer's account

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Court orders GTbank to refund N5.3b illegally withdrew from customer's account

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) sitting in Apo on Monday found Guaranteed Trust Bank (GTB) guilty of illegally withdrawing N5,240,516,186.21k from an account owned by one of its customers, Dr. Ted Iseghohi Edwards of Edwards and Partners Lawfirm and ordered it to pay the money  back through his Zenith Bank Plc account.

Justice Valentine Ashi, in a judgment held that GTB was without any defence to its action and ordered that the money should attract 10 per cent post judgment  interest, and another 21 per cent interest from December 12, 2014 when GTB illegally withdrew the money, until the bank the fund is eventually paid to Dr. Edwards.

The judge reportedly struck out the Central Bank (CBN), the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Jonah Otunla, Minister of State for Finance  Ambassador Yuguda, Anaocha Local Government Area and the Incorporated Trustees of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) from the suit as defendants on the ground that they were not necessary parties.

Dr. Edward initiated the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/939/2015 in January this year after GTB carried out the illegal withdrawal of the money on December 12, 2014.

The money was paid into Dr. Edwards' law firm's account with GTB on January 2, 2014 by the AGF as a settlement of a judgment got by his clients, Impecca Services Limited and His Royal Highness, Eze Samuel Ezekwo against ALGON for the consultancy services they rendered to the 774 local government.

The plaintiff stated, in the suit's originating processes, that shortly after the money was paid into his account on behalf of his clients, GTB made some disbursements from the account as directed, but that he was only informed on December 12 by an official of the bank that the Central Bank has withdrawn the N5.3 billion.

Dr. Edwards said when he enquired form the bank why it made deduction from his account without his consent; he said GTB only insisted that the withdrawal was made in obedience to CBN directive, which it could not disobey.

Justice Ashi, in his judgment,  faulted GTB for betraying the banker/customer relationship between it and Dr. Edwards. He noted that it was wrong for GTB to have made withdrawal from the customer's account without his knowledge and consent.

The judge held that GTB's claim that it was helpless and that the withdrawal was at the instance of CBN was of no moment.

He wondered whether GTB would have obeyed a similar directive even if it was illegal.

Source: The Nation

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