BusinessLegal/Judiciary

Botched transaction: N407.8m suit slammed against Union Bank

By Francis IWUCHUKWU, Lagos 

A N407.8 million suit has been instituted against Union Bank of Nigeria Plc over an alleged breach of contractual agreement.

The suit was filed before the High Court of Lagos State sitting in Ikeja, Nigeria by three businessmen, Messrs Adedoyin Dare Olasunkanmi, Adewoye Adeyinka Joshua and Onadeko Thomas Olusesan.

According to the statement of claim filed through their lawyer, Chief Fassy Yusuf, the businessmen who deal in general iron, steel and metal scraps posited that instituted the case for themselves and on behalf of other stakeholders in their botched transaction with the financial institution.

The businessmen explained that in their natural cause of business, they were approached by one Mr George from Chidex Nigeria Enterprises, an agent of the Receiver/Manager duly appointed by the bank who informed them about the availability in Port Harcourt of Iron, steel and metal scraps, and other movable assets to be disposed of by the Receiver/Manager.

They further contended that the 1st claimant (Olasunkanmi) being a long-standing customer of the bank immediately called his Bank Account Manager, one Mr Brown, to make enquiries. The said Mr Brown was said to have confirmed the legitimacy and availability of the goods on the premises of Dec. Oil and Gas Ltd in Port Harcourt, which was a company being managed by the bank’s agent.

The claimants averred that upon the confirmation given by Mr Brown, they pooled funds and resources together among themselves and many others and came up with a total sum of N117, 750, 000. 00. The money was said to have been subsequently transferred to Union Bank on March 1, 2022, for the purchase of the movable items of Dec. Oil and Gas Limited – in Receivership at Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt.

The businessmen further maintained that curiously, despicably and against all known ethical and professional conduct, the bank issued a backdated receipt to read June 14, 2021, whereas payment was made on March 1, 2022, with an addition that a similar backdated receipt was also issued by the bank’s Receiver/Manager, Africa Law Practice NG & Company.

The bank was said to have later sent out a letter dated February 16, 2022, through its Business Support and Recovery Department, confirming the status of its Receiver/Manager and that Pryce and Penny Consulting should proceed to conclude the transaction.

The trio revealed that they later mobilized men and logistics from Lagos to Port Harcourt and that upon getting to the Jetty for evacuation of the movable items, they were prevented from having access to the items purchased. 

The businessmen also added that one Mr Damilare Fasanya, a staff of the Receiver/Manager was contacted and informed of the ugly development. The claimants averred that Fasanya asked them to pay an additional N22 million into the account of Pryce and Penny Consulting before they could access and evacuate the items paid for. The businessmen confirmed that the request was later heeded, following which they were allowed to enter the Jetty.

But upon their entry into the Jetty, according to the claimants, they were arrested by the police on 24th March 2022, over allegations of stealing and fraudulent conversion, following which they were locked up and their equipment confiscated. 

The claimants averred that they were later told by the police that the items had earlier been sold to another party.

It was added that Damilare Fasanya was also invited by the police, and he was mandated to refund about N12.5 million he collected from the N22 million paid into the account of Pryce and Penny Consulting.

It was also the argument of the claimants that at a meeting with their lawyer, Fasanya apologized for the botched transaction and promised that the bank will make a refund of the amount lost by them. They added that the bank has failed and neglected to fulfil the promise.

As a result, the claimants are seeking the following reliefs from the court:

“A declaration that the total conduct of the defendant (Union Bank) is despicable, cruel, callous, ignoble, odious, unethical, most unprofessional and a brazen act of economic and financial strangulation of the claimants.

“An order mandating the defendant to refund the sum of N117, 750, 000.00 being payment made by the claimants to Union Bank Plc as payment for the goods but which the defendant refused to release to the claimants.

“An order mandating the defendant to refund the sum of N22 million being payment the claimants were made to part with the bank’s Receiver/Manager without meeting the purpose of the payment.

“A declaration that the defendant is indebted to the claimants to the tune of N1.8 million being amount collected from them as miscellaneous payment for the botched and spurious purchase that never existed.

“An order mandating the defendant to refund the sum of N8.7 million being expenses incurred in the botched transaction.

“An order mandating the defendant to pay the sum of N57.1 million as special damages for the unpleasant medical, social and psychological trauma endured by the claimants as a result of the cruel action of the defendant.

“An order mandating the defendant to pay the sum of N200 million as general damages and the cost of N10 million as litigation cost, as well as the payment of 20 per cent interest per annum on the total sum awarded from the date of judgement until final payment is made”.

As of the time of filing this report, the defendant is yet to file a defence to the suit while no date has been fixed for its hearing.

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