by ISE-OLUWA IGE
An Abuja High Court sitting in Apo, yesterday ordered Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB, to pay N5,240,516,186.21k back to one of its customers, Dr. Ted Iseghohi Edwards, of Edwards and Partners Law firm.
The judgment sum represents the amount illegally withdrawn from Ted Iseghohi’s account without his knowledge or consent.
The trial court ordered that the sum should be paid back to the customer through his Zenith Bank Plc account. The court entered the judgment yesterday after finding GTB guilty of illegal withdrawal.
Justice Valentine Ashi, in a judgment held that GTB was without any defence to its action and ordered the bank to pay the sum of N5,240,516,186.21 to the owner through his Zenith Bank Plc account.
The judge further ordered that the N5.3 billion should attract 10 per cent post judgment interest, and another 21 per cent interest from December 12, 2014 when GTB illegally withdrew the money, until the fund is eventually paid to Dr. Edwards.
The judge, however, struck out the names of the Central Bank, CBN, the Accountant General of the Federation,AGF, Jonah Otunla, Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Yuguda, Anaocha Local Government Area and the Incorporated Trustees of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, from the suit.
The court held that they were not necessary parties. Edward initiated the suit in January this year after GTB carried out the illegal withdrawal of the money on December 12, 2014.
The money was paid into Dr. Edwards’ law firm’s account with GTB on January 2, 2014 by the AGF as a settlement of a judgment got by his clients, Impecca Services Limited and His Royal Highness, Eze Samuel Ezekwo against ALGON for the consultancy services they rendered to the 774 local governments in the country.
The plaintiff stated, in the originating processes, that shortly after the money was paid into his account on behalf of his clients, GTB made some disbursements from the account as directed, but that he was only informed on December 12 by an official of the bank that the Central Bank has withdrawn the N5.3b.
Edwards said when he enquired from the bank why it made deduction from his account without his consent, he said GTB only insisted that the withdrawal was made in obedience to CBN directive, which it could not disobey.
Justice Ashi, in his judgment yesterday, faulted GTB for betraying the banker/customer relationship between it and Edwards. He noted that it was wrong for GTB to have made withdrawal from the customer’s account without his knowledge and consent. The judge held that GTB’s claim that it was helpless and that the withdrawal was at the instance of CBN was of no moment.
He wondered whether GTB would have obeyed a similar directive even if it was illegal.
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