Dom account closure: Court orders Stanbic IBTC to pay client $1m


From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri

A Federal High Court sitting in Owerri, the Imo State capital, has ordered Stanbic IBTC Bank to pay the sum of $1 million as general damages to Mr. Ezenwa Jahn Basil, a client of the bank whose domiciliary account was illegally closed without any notice to him.

Delivering judgment in the suit no/How/626/2011  brought against the bank, Ezenwa, on July 14, 2015, Justice F. I. Duruoha-Igwe  ruled that when contract is breached, in this case, closing the claimant’s domiciliary account without any notice to him, he is entitled to general damages, which he assessed at $1 million United States dollars.

The judge also awarded to the claimant (Ezenwa Jahn Basil) N50,000 cost against the defendant.

Ezenwa Jahn Basil who filed a lawsuit against the bank for deceit and breach of contract on November 4, 2011 had sought the following reliefs:

The declaration that the act or conduct of the defendant in remitting the fund (47,232 US dollars) to the remitter contrary to the earlier assurance to the claimant that he could use the said account is a clear breach of contract.

That  declaration that the closure of the claimant’s account having up to $40  in it without his consent or authorisation is illegal, unconscionable, contrary to banking ethics and contract of uberima fedei.

That $5 million as general damages for such illegal and unauthorised closure of the claimant’s account and the remittance contrary to the earlier assurances by the defendant thereby causing the claimant to lose the said contract and other business opportunities.

The judge also awarded to the claimant (Ezenwa Jahn Basil) N50,000 cost against the defendant.

Ezenwa Jahn Basil was a holder of domiciliary account with the defendant, which was in credit of 40 United States dollars had not operated or used the said account for a period of 18 months and presumed that the account was dormant.

But on February 1, 2011, having presumed that having left the said account unused for about 18 months that the account may have become dormant since the account was in credit of only 40 United States dollars and based on this assumption had sought to know from the defendant (bank) via an e-mail on February 1, 2011, if he could still transfer  funds into the said account. The defendant (bank) had on February 2, 2011 via an e- mail, replied that he could transfer funds into the said account and added that it was imperative of Ezenwa to update his account in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) mandate. As a result of the assurance of the bank, Ezenwa instructed his business associate to transfer the sum of 47,232 United States dollars into the said account.

However, when the bank received the said 47,232 United States dollars, it refused to credit or transfer it into Ezenwa’s account as earlier assured.

Source : SunOnline

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