8th July, 2010
A Lagos businessman, Mr. Peter Awurumibe and his company, Pabe Oil and Gas Limited, have slammed a N481,455,817.70 suit on FinBank Plc and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), over the allegation of labelling them as debtors.
In a statement of claim filed before a Federal High Court in Lagos by A. A. Nwokike on behalf of the plaintiffs, it was alleged that Fabe Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited maintains two accounts with the Apapa branch of FinBank as a notable customer.
However, sometime in 2009, the bank forwarded the name of Fabe Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited as one of its biggest debtors to Central Bank of Nigeria claiming that the company was owing N538,980,167, consequent upon which its name was published in national newspapers.
Thereafter, Mr. Peter Awurumibe was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) operatives and detained for one week on two occasions.
The plaintiffs averred that apart from the fact that it has no documentary evidence to back up the allegation, the bank still labelled them as debtors.
The plaintiffs engaged a team of investigative accountants known as Forensic Consulting, who wrote the bank, seeking reconciliation of bank charges and in the course of the investigation, it discovered excessive and illegal bank charges of N220,692,141.12 plus interest. The bank then refunded N35,151,32.47 and in line with the report of the consultant, FinBank was asked to refund N255,803,676.58 to the companyâ€™s account, but this was ignored, notwithstanding the bankâ€™s admittance of excess charges to the tune of N161,439,954.
The plaintiffs averred that they are not owing the defendant any money at all and thus instructed their consultant to write the Presidency complaining about the fraud and corrupt manipulation of customersâ€™ accounts by the bank.
The plaintiffs then contended that against the claim of the bank, it is FinBank that is owing them N161,439,954.40 as admitted by the bank as per its monetary credit and foreign trade exchange policy guideline.
As a result of the false and malicious allegation against the plaintiffs in various publications by the Central Bank of Nigeria, they claimed to have suffered injury to their credit, reputation, character and the company has been brought into hatred, scandal, odium and contempt.
In view of this, the plaintiffs are claiming from FinBank, N461,455,817.70, being the amount owed them and N200 million severally and jointly, as damages for defamation and libel.
The plaintiffs also urged the court to restrain the defendant and its agents from further publication of the libellous allegation.