Skye Bank Defies Court’s Order Over Payment Of N10M Damages
A year after an Igbosere High Court, Lagos, ordered Skye Bank PLC to pay N10 million into an interest-yielding account of the Court’s Chief Registrar, the bank is yet to comply with the order.
Justice Omobolanle Okikiolu Ighile of the court has ordered that the money should remain in the account pending the outcome of an appeal filed by Skye Bank PLC against her earlier judgment.
The court had on April 28, 2016, delivered a judgement in favour of a Nigerian writer, Odafe Atogun, and ordered Skye Bank Plc to pay him N10 million as general damages.
Justice Ighile had in the Judgement held that Skye bank Plc was negligent when it paid the €6,000 Western Union Money Transfer to an impostor.
But not satisfied with the judgement, Skye Bank approached Appeal Court and urged the lower court to stay execution of judgement pending the final determination of the appeal.
However, Justice Ighile in her ruling stated that after examining the grounds of Appeal canvassed in the Notice of Appeal, there was no “cogent point of law” to justify the grant of stay of execution, adding that the grounds were ordinary”.
The judge stated that in order to protect the res and in balancing the interest of contending parties, the judgement sum of N10 million should be paid into an interest-yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the Lagos High Court.
Despite the ruling, the judgement sum is yet to be paid into the coffers of the court.
The claimant had in his statement of claim dated July 31, 2009 filed by his lawyer, Pascal Ememonu, accused the bank of negligence in its handling of €6,000 sent to him by one Hudson Killeen from Ireland for the purpose of establishing a printing press in Nigeria.
But, the bank had in its counter affidavit, contended that the High Court of Lagos state lacks the jurisdiction and competence to adjudicate on the suit being a claim arising from money transfer agreement between one Kevin Fuller and Western Union in the Republic of Ireland.
However, Justice Ighile, in her judgement, held that Skye bank admitted under cross-examination that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) investigated the matter and found that it was negligent in the course of the transaction.
The court held that the defendant’s witness was not in the banking hall on the November 3, 2008, when Skye Bank Plc, Benin City branch, wrongfully paid out the €6,000 Euros meant for the claimant to an impostor
Besides, the court observed that Skye Bank did not produce the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) of the banking hall of its Benin City branch on that day nor did it produce the alleged report of its own investigation.
Justice Okikiolu-Ighile stated that she found the claimant as a truthful witness after watching his demeanour and consequently, awarded the sum of N10 million as general damages and additional N250, 000 in favour of the claimant.
The claimant had stated in his evidence that before sending the money, Kelvin Fuller filled a Western Union Money Transfer form which included questions on the city and country where the money is to be collected.
The claimant added that Kelvin Fuller, further disclosed to him, the money transfer control number and the test questions and answers which would enable him collect the money from any bank operating Western Union Money Transfer in Abuja, only and nowhere else.
However, since Nigerian banks do not offer Western Union Money Transfer to their customers after 4pm and the alleged €6,000 was sent at about 5.28pm Nigerian time, the claimant decided not to go to the bank on the day the money was sent.
But, at about the few minutes past eight the next day, the claimant allegedly went to Ecobank Plc on Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja to collect the money only to be told that the said money transfer control number may not exist or may have been used.
The claimant stated that after about two months of continuous enquiry, the Western Union Money Transfer office in Ireland discovered that the said money was paid out at 6.22pm Nigerian time on November 3, 2008, by the defendant’s branch office at 1, Forestry Road Benin City, Nigeria to a wrong person, who impersonated as the claimant.
He accused the bank of negligence by paying the money to an impostor at 6.22pm which was outside banking hours, a violation of regulatory guidelines by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He further stated that as a result of the negligence of the bank, his Irish partners have lost faith in him and with Nigerian business environment and consequently terminated his appointment as their representative in Nigeria