Story By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
Former staff of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, who alleged that they were wrongly disengaged from the service of the bank have again dragged the bank before National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Lagos.
The staff are seeking an order of interlocutory injunction restraining UBA Plc , from debiting their accounts in any other banks in the country over alleged outstanding consumer/staff loans.
Recalled that early this year, 116 among former employees of UBA Plc, whose appointment were alleged to have been unlawfully terminated, dragged the bank before the court seeking several orders which include, an order declaring their disengagement as illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and a breach of contract and consequently demanded for the sum of N2.015 billion as damages.
They former staff also asked the court to declare that UBA Plc wrongfully terminated their employment.
The former bankers have asked the court to declare that the personal loans given to them by UBA Plc between August and December, 2019 was unconscionable, oppressive and against all known tenets of corporate decency. The plaintiffs consequently asked for an order cancelling the loans or alternatively, ordering UBA Plc to apply insurance proceeds to the payment of the outstanding loans and updating their terminal benefits accordingly.
They further want the court to compel the bank to pay their salaries from the date of ‘constructive’ dismissal to the date of judgment. They also asked the court to award the sum of N2 billion against UBA, for breach of contract and wrongful termination of employment. They also want an order mandating UBA to remit the 2.5 per cent NHF deductions from their salaries to the fund.
“Alternatively, an order mandating UBA Plc to credit their accounts with the deductions made from their salaries as NHF contribution with interest at the rate of 25 per cent and also for an order mandating UBA plc, to provide satisfactory references when requested without reference to the alleged non- performance and outstanding loans.
The claimants further asked the court to award N10 million damages against UBA Plc, in favour of each of them for the alleged defamation of character and N50 million been cost of action.
The former bankers, who are applicants in the suit marked NICN/L/CS/112/2020, against UBA Plc, are: Adams Halimat Atta; Adedamola Olayemi Daramola; Adedeji Olubukola Adesola; Adedeji Oladipupo Soliu; Adeleke Anota Adeola; Adenike Bankole; Adenola Sunday Dare; Adeoti Adewale Wasiu; Adewole Kehinde Oluwadere; Adewale Opeyemi; Adiabokpa Godfrey and Adisa Ademola Khabir.
Others include; Ajayi Samuel Jaiyeola; AfolayanOluwakemi M; Agbana Oluwakemi Deborah; Agbo Chinyere Maureen; Agbede Oluwakemi Toyin Fawehinmi; Adewole Ajibike Olusola; Adeniran Adeyinka Ajoke Nee Daniel; Akingbade Olufemi John; Akinyemi Lawal; Alabi Olajide Abiodun; Alake Dorcas Jumoke; Alice bako; Anieze Ifeoma Pauline; Anyaogu Patience Akunna; Arundu Hope; Atafo Oziegbe Godwin; Azeez Ayokunle Temitayo and Azubuike Opone Ufuoma.
They also include; Azuh Ngozi Jovita; Badmus Idris Bambo; Balogun Sunday Emmanuel; Bamgbose Sumbo; Bayode Ajayi Austine; Bose Imarughe; Bosunde Olufemi Olusegun; Cecilia Wilson Ochenje; Charity Ijeoma Onyekwere, Chinyere Ezekwu and 76 others.
While awaiting the determination of their suit against UBA Plc, the applicants have again approached the court for an order restraining their former employees from debiting their accounts in any other banks in the country, over the alleged outstanding consumer/staff loans.
They are also urging the court for accelerating hearing of their matter with the bank.
The plaintiffs in an affidavit in support of their motion on notice deposed to by one Adekoge Adeoye, a litigation officer in the law firm of Law Future Partners and filed before the court by their lawyer, Elvis E. Asia, averred that the applicants initiated the action on March 13, 2020, via a complaint pending before the Court and that the major basis of the complaint is that UBA PLC wrongly seized their terminal benefits for consumer/staff loans that ought to have been settled by insurance.
The deponent stated that the applicants also complained that after the said deduction, their accounts were debited with the balance of the alleged outstanding making the applicants debtors to UBA Plc. adding that on July 13, 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a circular to all banks and other financial institutions on Operational Guidelines on Global Standing Instructions (GSI), by the circular, UBA Plc and other banks in Nigeria have been empowered to debit the accounts of loan defaulters in other banks to settle defaults.
He stated that the said GSI directives by the CBN applies to loans granted from August 28, 2019, which covers the period the Applicants were given loans that ought to be settled by insurance.
The deponent further averred that the applicants fear that unless the respondent (UBA Plc) is restrained from debiting their accounts in other banks pending the determination of their suit the subject matter of the claim will be destroyed and they will be subject to further hardship that cannot be compensated for in damages.
They also stated that the interest of justice will be better served if the court restrained the bank from debiting their accounts in the manner set out in the GSI pending the determination of the matter and accelerate the hearing of the suit.
While UBA Plc is yet to file response to the suit which is pending before Justice Ndidi Anthonia Ubaka, no date has been fixed for its hearing.