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Fraud: NGO slams N4bn lawsuit against First Bank of Nigeria

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An Enugu State High Court presided over by Justice Chukwunweike Ogbuabor on Thursday adjourned till Oct. 14 for pre-trial of a N4 billion lawsuit filed against First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

The suit was instituted by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), called Incorporated Trustees of International Vocational Centre (IVC) and Dr Pedro Manuwa.

The adjournment by Ogbuabor followed the Valedictory Court Session in honour of late Mr Godfrey Oguagha holding in the court premises.

The plaintiff’s counsel, Mr Chikadibia Anosike revealed that both counsels had already filed their necessary papers.

“The court would have held today but because of the Court Valedictory Session, the presiding judge read only judgement readily to be delivered.

“He asked us to pick a new date. Ordinarily, court would not have sat today but because of the need for those judgements, it sat,” he said.

The judge however, adjourned the matter till Oct. 14, 2021 for pre-trial.

Anosike said the reason for  long date was because the court would be going for annual vacation between August and September.

In their statement of claim, he said his clients had in the last five years maintained two accounts with the defendant to wit: 2027073629 (Current Account) and 3091251391 (Savings Account) with the name International Vocational Centre.

They averred that on Feb. 4, 2019, it issued First Bank cheques to several beneficiaries of their education fund but the defendant negligently paid one of the beneficiaries Ñ150, 000 as against N15, 000.

“There have been incidences of negligence by the defendant in handling the plaintiff’s account which had led to several losses, ridicule and untold hardship on the plaintiffs.

“On account of the said over-payment, some of the cheques issued to those beneficiaries were returned unpaid.

“Some person(s) colluded with the defendant and have opened account number 3141684991 with the name International Vocational Centre, Niger State chapter,” he said.

The claimants alleged that such person(s) had been demanding and receiving money from the public and prospective beneficiaries of the scholarship funds, thereby, tarnishing their image.

The lawyer said that the plaintiffs had made complaints to the defendant’s Enugu Branch, demanding for the closure of the said account but every complaint fell on deaf ears.

“Many prospective students have been duped by reason of the said illegal account and the plaintiff’s image has been ridiculed and brought into disrepute globally by the reason of the action,” the plaintiffs claimed.

When the matter was called up in the last adjourned date, the defendant was not in court.

The judge then gave the defence counsel seven days to amend the statement and serve it to counsel to the plaintiff.

The application was not opposed by the counsel to the plaintiff, Anosike.

In an interview, the plaintiff’s counsel said he did not oppose the motion sought by the counsel to the defendant because it was allowed in law once it was filed before hearing of the case.

“By the rule of law, they can amend if they want. So, we are not opposing their application. Fortunately, their motion for amendment was moved and granted.

“The court gave them time within which to serve us the amended copy of their statement of defence.

“They have seven days to serve us the amended copy of their defense, and we have 14 days to file our reply to their statement of defence,” he said.

Anosike, however, noted that the motion should have been filed earlier in order to ensure accelerated hearing of the matter.

He reiterated that his client, International Vocational Centre, had a good case considering the fact that the bank infringed on the right if its client.

We have come to the court to seek redress and we believe that our case is good enough to get the relieves we are seeking for,” Anosike added.

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