UNION BANK AGAIN: Bizmen Slam N407.8m Suit On Bank

UNION BANK AGAIN: Bizmen Slam N407.8m Suit On Bank

Cyril Ogar, Abuja and Rotimi Asher, Lagos

As the trouble waters in the defunct Union Bank continue, stakeholders in the Nigerian capital market have expressed worry over Union Bank of Nigeria, UBN Plc, becoming a private entity as Titan Trust Bank Limited, a two-year old private bank, recently acquired 89.39% equity previously held by core investors in the 105 years old first generation bank.

In what many observers see as unending woes of the bank, three businessmen, Messrs Adedoyin Dare Olasunkanmi, Adewoye Adeyinka Joshua and Onadeko Thomas Olusesan have slammed a N407.8m suit on Union Bank of Nigeria Plc at a Lagos High Court in Ikeja over alleged breach of contractual agreements.

AljazirahNigeria gathered that the defunct first generation bank ‘Union Bank’ is in all sorts of bother as it scrambles to defend itself against a hefty N407m suit brought against it by these three businessmen.

In their statement of claim filed through their lawyer, Chief Fassy Yusuf, the businessmen who deal in general iron, steel and metal scraps said they instituted the case for themselves and on behalf of other stakeholders in their botched transaction with the bank.

They stated 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 by the Receiver/Manager.

It was further stated that the 1st claimant ,Olasunkanmi, being a long-standing customer of the bank immediately called his Bank Account Manager, one Mr. Brown, to make inquiries. The said Mr. Brown confirmed the legitimacy and availability of the goods in 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. 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 claimants averred further 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. It was added 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 claimants said they later mobilised 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. They 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 additional N22 million into the account of Pryce and Penny Consulting, before they could access and evacuate the items paid for. They said the request was later heeded, following which they were allowed to enter the Jetty.

However, the claimants averred that upon their entrance into the Jetty, they were arrested by the police on March 24, 2022, over allegation of stealing and fraudulent conversion, following 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 N12.5m he collected from the N22m paid into the account of Pryce and Penny Consulting.

The claimants further averred that at a meeting with their lawyer, Fasanya apologised 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 fulfill the promise.

Consequently, the claimants are seeking for 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 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 N22m 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 N1.8m being the 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 N8.7m being expenses incurred in the botched transaction.

“An order mandating the defendant to pay the sum of N57.1m 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 N200m as general damages and the cost of N10 million as litigation cost, as well as the payment of 20% interest per annum on the total sum awarded from the date of judgment until final payment is made”.

The defendant is yet to file a defence to the suit while no date has been fixed for its hearing

It is worth noting that the bank in recent times has faced numerous lawsuits arising from bridge of contracts and negligence and others.

Recall that Titan Trust Bank Limited ,TTB, one of the fastest-growing and customer-centric financial service providers in Nigeria, recently completed the acquisition of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.

This followed an agreement by Union Global Partners Limited, Atlas Mara Limited and other majority shareholders to divest 88.39% shareholding in Union Bank to Titan Trust Bank.

The board of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc in a notification to the Nigerian Exchange Limited ,NGX, and the Securities Exchange Commission explained that the agreement, which is subject to regulatory approvals and other financial conditions, would upon completion transfer 89.39% of Union Bank’s issued share capital to Titan Trust Bank.

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