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Court orders Stanbic IBTC Bank to pay N50bn as damages over false report



Justice Candide-Johnson presiding over a Lagos High Court,south west Nigeria,has ordered Stanbic-IBTC bank Plc and CRC Credit Bureau limited to jointly pay the sum of N50 billion as general damages, to one of its customers, Longterm Global Capital Limited, for false, malicious and injurious falsehood publication against it.

Apart from the judgement sum, the judge also ordered the bank and CRC Credit Bureau Ltd who is a joint defendant in the Suit filed by Longterm Global Capital Limited, to publish forthwith and not less than seven days, a retraction and apology to the claimant in the cover pages of Sunday and Monday editions of the Punch, Thisday and Guardian newspapers, in respect of the alleged false indebtedness publication of the claimant to the bank.

Justice Candide-Johnson also directed CRC Credit Bureau Limited, to immediately delete from its electronically published data bank and all other publications, all references to the alleged indebtedness of the bank’s customer to the bank.

The judge further made an order of perpetual injunction restraining Stanbic-IBTC Bank PLC and CRC Credit Bureau Limited, from further publishing any other materials or details relating to the alleged indebtedness of the claimant to the Stanbic-IBTC PLC

Finally, the court also  ordered the payment of interest on the above judgement sum at the rate of 10 percent per annum from the date of judgement of the court until date of the final payment by the defendants in line with the provision of Order 35 Rule 4, of High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2012.
The judgement of the court was sequel to a suit filed before the court by the Stock broking firm, Longterm Global Capital seeking a sum of N50 billion damages against Stanbic/IBTC Bank Limited,over an alleged breach of contract agreement, and malicious publication of non existing indebtedness.

The stock brokerage firm in its statement of claim filed before the court against Stanbic/IBTC and CRC Credit Bureau Limited, by its lawyer, Chief Felix O. Fagbohungbe (SAN),alleged thus: that on or about April 2, 2014, pursuant to the banker/customer relationship between it and the bank, it applied to Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, for a term loan of N250 million, the loan  was for the purchase of a commercial property at Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, which would have been prime property it would have acquired and developed Into a multi-storey ultra modern apartment complex for sale to various property investors.

The claimant also averred that due to the urgent nature of the purpose of the loan application at the material time, it’s relevant officials made several follow-up visit Union Bank Plc, to inquire about the state of processing of it’s loan application. But to its greatest bewilderment, its officials were verbally informed by Union Bank Plc that credit status check were being conducted at relevant credit bureaus in respect of its loan transaction with other banks in the country, the bank later wrote a letter stating that it will be unable to grant the loan due to unfavorable credit report which was electronically published by the data bank of Credit Beareu Limited who is the second defendant in this suit to the whole world with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s directive.

The claimant further stated that by Union Bank Plc’s letter, it was informed that pursuant to the mandatory requirement of CBN directing that every bank and Financial institutions in the country must obtain credit status reports from at least two credit bureaus before granting any credit facility to their customers, the Union Bank Plc, applied for and obtained it’s credit status from the second defendant and Messrs Credit Registry Plc, as part of the processing it’s loan application.

It further stated in the report sent by Union Bank that it’s credit status with fisrt defendant was tagged ‘clean’, while report from the second defendant was said to be unsatisfactory and it became aware that the Stanbic IBTC bank had reported to the CRC Credit Bereau limited on or about October 31, 2012, that the bank  deliberately, fasely and maliciously wrote and published a credit status report through the second defendant concerning it that it has been blacklisted by the  StanbicIBTC as a loan defaulter and bad loan borrower who was owing the sum of N543,030.843 million, for 722 days running as at October 31, 2012, and which numbers of days was over and above the maturity date of December 31, 2009.

The claimant further aveered that Stanbic/IBTC stated that the interest outstanding on the loan as at December 31, 2012, stood at N213, 537, 753 million.

However, the claimant stated that contrary to the false, injurious and Malicious credit status reports published by the Stanbic/IBTC bank, through CRC Credit Bureau Limited, to the whole world including Union Bank Plc, there were no time that the StanbicIBTC granted it any credit facility which would be classified as ‘lost’ in respect of which  account balance in the sum of N543,030.843 million, with the accrued interest in the sum of  N213, 537, 753 million, or any other sum at all were outstanding against it.

It stated also that to the foregoing, Union Bank Plc relied on the defendants’ credit status information and declined granting it’s term loan which was required to purchase a commercial property.

It also stated that the plaintiff apart from not indebted to StanbicIBTC , it was neither informed by the Stanbic/IBTC that it was indebted nor was any demand made in that regard before the malicious falsehood was reported by Stanbic IBTC to CRC Credit Bureau which was subsequently published the false and untrue credit status reports to Union Bank of Nigeria PLC and the whole world.

It also stated that the credit status reports made to the second defendant by the first defendant in relation to the alleged indebtedness was made without just cause or excuse as there was never a time Stanbic IBTC granted it any credit facility which can be classified as ‘lost’ or’bad’ which it did not pledge adequate and readily realizable collateral security to cover the principal loan amount plus interest.
Consequently,due to the deliberate, malicious and/or injurious falsehood published by the defendants in relation to the credit status, it has been unable to access any credit facility from Union Bank of Nigeria PLC , and all other financial institutions in Nigeria, as it has been blacklisted and embargoed from accessing new credit.

The claimant also stated that the false, malicious and injurious falsehood of the defendants has adversely affected it’s business reputation, as all it’s bankers and Financial institutions are no longer able or permitted to grant any credit facility to argument it’s working capital for reason that it has been effectively blacklisted by been classified as a bad or delinquent borrower and consequently shut-out of Nigeria’s credit system.

The claimant also aveered that the malicious and injurious falsehood by the defendants was calculated embarrassed, de-market and cause huge pecuniary damage as a registered capital market institution, the main objective of the defendants in deliberately, willfully and intentionally published the malicious and injurious falsehood credit report, was to asphyxiated and paralyzed it’s investment activities and capital operation, and to untimely make its business  collapsed without just cause.

Consequently, the claimant is urging the court to award it the sum of N50 billion as general damages against StanbicIBTC Bank and CRC Credit Beraeu jointly and severally. and the sum of N50 million as cost of instituting this suit.

It also seeks an order of the court directing the defendants to immediately delete from its electronically published data bank, and all other publications all references to the alleged indebtedness and an order directing the defendants to publish a retraction and or apology to it on the cover of Sunday or Monday edition of two national newspapers, in respect of the alleged indebtedness.

It also seeks an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from further publishing any other materials or details relating to the alleged indebtedness.

However, Stanbic/IBTC in its statement of defence filed before the court denied all the claimant’s aveerment, thereby urging the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety with substantial cost in its favour.

In urging the court to dismiss the claimant’s suit, the bank averred that the claimant maintains an account with its Adetokunbo Ademola branch, and at all material time, the transaction on the said account were recorded electronically by it’s computer system. It added that between April 2008 and June 2011, the transactions were recorded in Account number 1111314381, under the Equinox Core Banking System, and between July 2011 and the time of instituting the suit, the transactions were recorded in Account number 9200689089, under Finacle Core Banking System.

It also stated that it did not author the credit status report cited by the claimant but merely provided the second defendant with the status of the Credit facility obtained by the claimant from it in discharge of it’s obligations under the guidelines for the Licensing, Operation and Regulations of Credit Bureau in Nigeria (CBN Licensing Guidelines).

It also aveered that the aforementioned information it provided to the second defendant was true and consistent with it’s records, and were not borne out of ill-will or malice and were not intended to disparage the claimant’s trade of business as alleged.

Stanbic/IBTC also stated that the claimant’s indebtedness arose as a result of a credit in the sum of N600 million, by virtue of letter of offer dated March 27, 2008 adding that the said indebtedness had been subject of litigation since December 23, 2009, in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/1491/09, Re; Longterm Global Capital Limited and Patrick Akinkotu vs. Stanbic/IBTC, Appeal No. CA/L/194/2011, Stanbic IBTC Vs. Longterm Global Capital and Patrick Akinkotu. And that a notice of appeal dated May 13, 2013, in respect of the matter has been filed at the Supreme Court of Nigeria on a motion on notice dated May 13, 2013.

It also stated that the said indebtedness had been acknowledged in the judgement by the Federal High Court in suit number FHC/L/CS/1491/09, Re; Longterm Global Capital Limited and Patrick Akinkotu vs. Stanbic/IBTC by Justice Achibong.

The bank also stated that the claimant’s Statement of Claim does not disclose a reasonable cause of action, and the action constituted a vexatious, frivolous and Malicious, consequently, the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

Consequently, the bank urged the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety, and award substantial cost in it’s favour.

-New Telegraph

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EFCC to probe Delta Gov. Okowa’s N736m substandard road project



…..As Community Youths Protest Low Standard Job



Information reaching The Witness has revealed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), are set to take over the lingering case of the ongoing substandard road contract awarded to PORTPLUS limited, a marine service company, at the sum of N736, 404, 555.60 by the Delta State government.

It would be recalled that in March, 2017, Delta state governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, had awarded to Portplus Limited, the contract to construct a three kilometers concrete pavement road with both sides drainages at Ikpide-Irri, a riverine community, Isoko South local government area of Delta state.

The substandard collapsed culvert.

The contract which is said to be a ‘kola-nut’ from the governor to the chairman of Portplus Limited, Mr. Immanuel Omoefe, an indigene of the community is already generating controversy following the substandard work and usage of low quality materials by the contractor, resulting to protest by the locals.

Speaking with our reporter, an EFCC official who does not want his name mentioned confided that, “Please don’t quote me, but I can tell you that the commission has been following stories from online media concerning the contract. We saw in the whole contract elements of fraud especially in the area of execution. We are very must interested in the issue”

One of the culverts being constructed with 10mm rods as against the specified 16mm on the BOQ

According to pur EFCC source, “As we talk, we are talking with the lawyer to the concerned indigenes of the community who petitioned governor Ifeanyi Okowa on the substandard work and he is cooperating with us.

“Once we receive the petitions been expected, our Benin city office in Edo state will swing into action and all names that will be mentioned especially the contractor would be invited for questioning. A colleague of mine in the ICPC told me too they are interested and will also step into the matter.”, Our EFCC source disclosed.

The concerned indigenes of the community through a petition addressed to governor Okowa last week and signed by their counsel, Mr. Chuks. F. Ebu, had raised the alarm of substandard job by the contractor saying that instead of construction of both sides drainages, using of rods and other materials specified in the Bill Of Quantity, (BOQ), the contractor went for substandard materials.

The 10mm used to construct one of the culverts.

The petition which was made available to tbis medium, copied the Commissioner of Police, state commissioner for works, member representing constituency 1 in the state house of Assembly, Orezi Esievo, State Director, SSS, Chairman, Isoko South local government area, all branch chairmen of Ikpide-Irri unions, President General, Isoko Development Union, (IDU) and others.

According to the petition with the title “Re:Construction Of Ikpide-Irri Township Roads: Protest Against The Substandard Job And Call For Strict Adherence To The Bill Of Quantity.”, failure by the contractor to adhere strictly to the Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation, ( BEME), the BOQ and other contract papers, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies would be invited into the contract.

“That the culverts should be reconstructed because the converts construction was not met as rods used was 10mm at interval of 300mm instead of 16mm at interval of 150mm spacing specified in the drawings and the original Bill Of Quantity (BOQ) and concrete mixed was very poor. Also the size specified in the drawings was not professionally followed.”

Our correspondent reliably gathered that few days ago one of the controversial culverts carrying 10mm rods as against the specified 16mm collapsed during a visit by some persons from the Ministry of works.

Meanwhile, the community youths on Sunday staged a peaceful protest in the community and called on the contractor to as a matter of urgency and importance follow standards in the execution of the contract or be ready to face the music of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Speaking during the protest, the leader of the protest, an activist and indigene of the community who doubles as the President of Isoko Monitoring Group, (IMG), a Pan Isoko group known for championing of development in Isoko, Delta and beyond, Mr. Sebastine Agbefe, lamented the substandard work by Portplus limited and called on the contractor to immediately destroy and reconstruct all the culverts in the community that were done with 10mm instead of 16mm according to the BOQ.

“This is a fraud of the highest order, this is pure wickedness and we can no longer folds our arms and watch one man shortchange us because of his personal greed and selfishness. We are warning the contractor to destroy all the culverts done with 10mm and reconstruct same with 16mm according to the BOQ.

“The contractor should also make sure that both sides drainages are constructed on the road and must use standard materials specified on the BOQ. And again, Portplus must adhere strictly to the specifications on the BOQ and any attempt to compromise standards as far as this contract is concerned, Portplus will be made to face EFCC and ICPC.”, Mr. Agbefe stated.

The IMG president, however enjoined indigenes of the community, especially the youths not to take the laws into their hands even as he challenge all communities in Isoko nation to be involved in the monitoring of execution government projects in their various domains.

It was gathered that some of the youths and other indigenes who came out enmass were scared away from the protest by parents and relatives for fear of been victimized by power that be in the community that is already compromised by the contractor.

Our correspondent reliably learnt that video clips and photographs of the substandard work taken during the protest will be sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as requested.

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How DMO DG, Oniha’s management style is killing Nigeria’s economy



-As financial experts call for her sack

By Festus Onajite

Nigeria’s economy is heading for more tough times ahead going by current happenstances at the Debt Management Office, DMO, manned by Ms. Patience Oniha.

There have been red alerts pointing towards a major crisis in the Nigerian economy since Oniha took over about a year ago from Dr. Abraham Nwankwo as the director-general. And despite the several millions of naira allocated to the agency, DMO itself is presently a shadow of its old self due largely to the perceived incompetence of the current DG.

The major worry at the moment is that despite the rising debt profile of the nation, the federal government has been unable to develop a fresh debt management strategy, seven months after the expiration of the Debt Management Office’s (DMO) five-year Third Strategic Plan initiated by Oniha’s predecessor.

Investigations also revealed that DMO is bereft of its own internal working plan, which we learnt, is in the pipeline.

Nigeria’s total public debt increased by 4.52 per cent in the first three months of 2018, the DMO had revealed, adding that the country’s debt increased from N21.73 trillion in December 2017 to N22.71 trillion at the end of the first quarter of 2018.

Financial experts attribute the above trend to lack of administrative skills exhibited by Ms Patience Oniha in handling affairs at the DMO. It is further argued that if no drastic steps are taken by the federal government concerning the Debt Management Office, the Nigerian economy risks a further nosedive in a few months to come.

“She is an analogue administrator who cannot operate in the digital age of debt management,” a financial expert quipped recently. He called for the sack of the director-general to be replaced by a more competent and experienced hand to manage an agency as strategic as the DMO.

As it stands, the prospect of the debt portfolio has become higher as Nigeria has just signed an agreement with France for $475million loan facility for some projects in Lagos, Kano and Ogun States.

The Debt Management Agency is a very critical arm of the federal government as far as debt management is concerned. Section 6(c) of the DMO Establishment Act 2003 states that the agency must, “prepare and implement a plan for the efficient management of Nigerian’s external and domestic debt obligations at sustainable levels compatible with desired economic activities for growth and development; and participate in negotiations aimed at realising those objectives.”

Due to its very critical role in the economy, the Debt Management Office has always operated with a strategic plan since it was establishes on 4th October 2000 to centrally coordinate the management of Nigeria’s debt. Its last strategic plan that expired last December was the third since its establishment.

Though the director-general of DMO had said that Nigeria’s steadily rising debt profile was not a big issue, the International Monetary Fund has expressed deep concerns over Nigeria’s capacity to repay its rising debts. IMF officials recently warned the government that Nigeria has been sliding down towards debt trap.

At a press conference on the sidelines of the World Bank Group Spring Meetings in Washington DC, recently Mrs Catherine Pattillo, Assistant Director, Fiscal Affairs Department of IMF, described Nigeria’s debt to revenue ratio, which she put at 63 percent, as “extremely high.”

According to her, “Borrowing by countries can create benefits if used for investments of high returns. Our evidence suggests that’s not the case in some countries, especially in Nigeria. So rising debt can create the vulnerabilities.”

Chirstine Lagarde, the head of International Monetary Fund corroborated this last month while addressing financial leaders from some developing countries. She said that global debt had soared to 220 per cent of global output, a staggering level that did not bode well for member economies.

In most economy, the debt problem was casting a shadow over future growth prospects, she said.

All efforts to reach Ms. Oniha for her angle proved futile as her mobile number 0802..…….79 was not reachable as at press time.

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Customer battles Diamond Bank over N1.5bn fraud



Diamond Bank Plc may have to shell out the princely sum of N2.6 billion if it loses the suit brought against it by a limited liability company Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria Limited. The company which specializes in construction is suing the bank for allegedly mismanaging its accounts domiciled in the bank.
The statement of claim filed by B. A. M Ajibade (SAN) averred that the deponent had sometime in 2004 opened a main account with Diamond Bank to execute construction projects. Moreover, in the course of the normal relationship between bank and customer it was able to secure overdrafts, loans and bank guarantees.
According to a copy of the statement of claim obtained by this newspaper, trouble began when the bank allegedly began to overcharge the company’s main account with sundry levies including Commission on Turnover (COT), lending fees, bank guarantee fees, transfer fees and interest on loans in a manner contrary to the written agreements the company had earlier signed with the bank.
The statement claimed further that an audit of the company’s accounts revealed that it had been overcharged to the tune of N1.5 billion by Diamond Bank. It further claimed that Diamond Bank voluntarily admitted to having charged excessively to the tune of about N246 million.
The company further claimed that the uncertainty surrounding its accounts with Diamond Bank and the bank’s withdrawal of funds from its accounts through illicit charges caused cash flow problems and delays for the company and contributed to the company’s inability to execute some major projects, including the Akwa Ibom Airport, in a timely and efficient manner.
It is therefore claiming N564 million in damages for loss of profit, N1 billion in special damages for consequential loss, another 1 billion in general damages for breach of the banker/customer relationship, and an additional N100 million in legal costs.
The suit has been adjourned till 15th of October, 2018 for hearing.
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