A limited liability company, Citygate Global Investment Limited, has dragged the United Bank for Africa Plc before Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court over allegations of illegal charges and deductions by the bank.
The plaintiff in its suit designated FHC/L/CS/407/2017 wants the judge to issue an order mandatinng UBA to refund a sum to the tune of N3.450 billion being the penalty for the illegal and excess charges, general damages, and litigation cost.
The firm is equally praying the court to grant an order mandating UBA to pay 21 percent interest on the money sought, from the date of filing the suit till judgement and at the rate of six percent from the date of judgement till final liquidation.
Citygate Global Investment Limited also wants Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo to give an order compelling UBA to publish an apology in five National newspapers for the said alleged excessive and illegal charges.
According to an affidavit in support of the originating motion deposed to by its legal officer, Busola Oluwole, the company argued that its Chief Executive Officer, Segun Durojaye, naratted to her on March 10, 2017, that a representative of UBA had approached and introduced to him a product called U-Gold Savings Account with an explanation that its features included minimum opening and operating balance of N10, 000; Zero C.O.T.; Third party withdrawal; unlimited number of withdrawal; Internet and mobile banking; debit card issuance and SMS and E-mail alerts.
Ms. Oluwole further contended that not too long after opening the said account, UBA began misappropriating the applicant’s funds, converting same and plundering the said account with different C.O.T and other charges which UBA had warranted that the account would not be exposed.
While adding that UBA’s misrepresentation, warranties and conditions of contract which the applicant had relied upon, the deponent maintained that it altered the company’s situation and eventually made it to suffer economic losses.
Ms. Oluwole further argued that UBA reneged on its warranty and debited the sum of N903, 313.
According to the deponent, “UBA unwantonly breached the terms of the contract as well as of those customer-banker relationship existing between parties.
“UBA plundered and subjected the applicant’s funds to wanton debit between October 19, 2011, and March 4, 2015.
“Upon discovery of the said discrepancies, the applicant engaged UBA through its branch and head office to desist from unauthorized and Illegal deduction and the bank refused.
“The applicant further engaged the services of a forensic accountant at its own cost to conduct an audit of the account which revealed the said distortion in its accounting operations.
“We were surprised upon receiving a regular, almost automated reply to the correspondence forwarded to UBA, where it stated that Investigation would be conducted on the account, but no reversal was done, and no other report of investigation was received, while UBA continued to withhold the said applicant’s funds.
“Upon filing a suit against UBA at a Magistrate Court which was later struck our for want of jurisdiction, the bank admitted it’s negligence, conversation and breach, and made refund of some funds Illegally debited outside of the two weeks window prescribed by the provision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guide to bank charges, without the statutorily prescribed letter of apology to the applicant.
“UBA converted the applicant’s funds in total breach of banker-customer relationship and breach of fiduciary good faith entrusted in the bank.
“The applicant has suffered economic losses in general and specific damages which requires recompense.
The deponent, therefore, urged the court to interpret the various documents and policies in favour of the applicant, and award the statutory damages for the applicant against UBA.
But the financial institution in its counter affidavit deposed to by its legal officer, Gabriel Omu, stated that the bank is not in a position to know if the applicant is registered with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) or engaged in other activities.
The UBA’s legal officer stated that the bank sometimes in October 2011, introduced to the applicant a new product called ‘U Gold Savings Account’, which has the semblance of a current account, but with Zero COT, and such other features.
Mr. Omu said UBA did not represent to the applicant that the other features of the account would not attract usual Bank charges.
He said the bank charges, which the applicant is contesting are for Electronic Fund Transfers, to wit; IRO, NBBS charges; debit card fees; SMS and E-mail alerts from the inception of the account in October 19, 2011 up till March 16, 2015.
He also said the applicant made a total NIP transfers in the total sum of N371,577,000, of which he was charged of N1,130,106. 05; that made up of IRO-NIBBS charges of N29, 279. 25; Bank fess of N1, 048, 396; and Value Added Tax (VAT) of N52, 430. 80.
According to the lawyer, UBA did not make any admission of negligence, conversation or misappropriation of the applicant’s funds at the Magistrate Court, Lagos.
Mr. Omu said the action marked MCL/314/16, instituted by the applicant against UBA was struck out for want of jurisdiction in June 2016, while the bank had paid into the applicant’s account a total sum of N1.100,826.08, being VAT on the bank charges; and IRO-NBBS charges on May 31, 2016.
He urged the court to dismiss the applicant’s suit against UBA with substantial cost.
The matter has been adjourned until September 25, 2017.