Customer battles Union Bank over fraudulent withdrawals

…accuses account officer of being complicit

A customer of Union Bank PLC, Mr. Okoronkwo Benjamin has sued the bank over alleged illegal withdrawal of the sum of N5, 931, 000.90 (Five Million Nine Hundred and Thirty-One Thousand, Ninety Kobo) from his savings account domiciled with the Umuahia Branch office.

In the suit filed before the High Court of Abia State, in Umuahia with suit No HU/307/2018 between Okoronkwo Benjamin and Union Bank, PLC, the Claimant is seeking an Order directing the Defendant to credit the savings account N0: 0031643754 belonging to the Claimant with the sum of N5, 931, 000.90 illegally removed from the said account without the knowledge or authorization of the Claimant.

The Claimant is also seeking an Order directing the Defendant to pay a compound monthly capitalization at the rate of 2 per cent per month on the said sum from the 27th May 2013 when the said amount was illegally removed from the account of the Claimant till the day of final judgment in this suit. Also the Claimant is seeking an Order directing the Defendant to pay N20, 000, 000 (Twenty Million Naira) as general damages for breach of trust and fiduciary relationship and inconveniences caused the Claimant.  

In his statement on oath filed before the High Court Umuahia, Mr. Okoronkwo stated that sometimes in 2008 he opened a savings account at the Defendant’s Bank Road Branch, Umuahia and operated the account until the 10th February, 2009 when he travelled out of Nigeria to South Africa. He also stated that he did not close the account with the Defendant rather that he travelled with all documents relating to the said account to South Africa.

He further said that while in South Africa deposits were made on his behalf to the said bank account to the tune of N6, 000, 000 (Six Million Naira), adding that while in South Africa he did not make application for online banking or ATM card either in person or by electronic means.

The Claimant stated that when he returned to Nigeria in February 20014 for his traditional marriage, he went to make withdrawals only to be informed that his account balance was N32, 657.52 hence he could not make any withdrawal for his traditional marriage. At this point the Claimant said he applied and obtained his statement of account. According to the Claimant, when he studied the statement he discovered that between April  11th to May 27th , 2013 a total of N5, 931, 000.90 was removed from his account without his knowledge.

In the oath the Claimant said that following this development he went to the office of the branch manager for an explanation but was told to exercise patience while the bank’s head office tries to rectify and effect the appropriate crediting of his account. The Claimant said he has suffered a great deal of inconvenience because of the action of the Defendant of not allowing him access to the funds in his bank account.

He claimed that the Defendant was negligent in the handling of his account which resulted in the various removals or debits on the said account. The Claimant is therefore seeking for a declaration that the various removals or debits from his savings account without his consent are unlawful.

Earlier, the complainant petitioned the Speaker Abia state House of Assembly and the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 9 headquarters, Umuahia alleging that his account officer Anthonia Okonkwo and the branch Manager Chiedozie Azuamairo are complicit in the fraudulent withdrawals from his account.

However, when News Critic contacted Union bank, the Corporate Affairs office said the issue is a court matter, adding that the bank as a matter of policy don’t like going to court with customers if not that the  customer in question is negligent. He said if the bank is at fault the money would have been returned to the account, adding that the account officer in question was in constant touch with the customer while he was in South Africa. He said if the bank staff mentioned were negligent the management would have prosecuted them like others.   

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