Court Defers Judgment In N6.4B Illegal Charges Suit Against Zenith Bank Till Jan. 24



* Zenith Bank MD, Ebenezer Onyeagwu


Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division has adjourned the judgment of a N6, 441, 369, 617.73 billion, illegal charges filed against Zenith Bank Plc by an independent oil marketer, till January 24.

The judgment was formerly fixed for December 13, 2021, but was stalled due to the judges’ conference.

At resumed sitting of the court today, Justice Faji, announced to the parties, who were represented by their counsel, that the judgment is not ready and that the court is still within the 90 days prescribed by the law to deliver its judgment after parties had adopted their addresses.

The judge consequently, fixed January 24, for judgment.

An independent oil marketer, Anthony Olushola Adejuyigbe and his firm, Tonique Oil Services Limited had in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/1584/12, accused Zenith Bank of alleged illegal charges amounting to N6.4 billion.

The plaintiffs in their amended statement of claim filed before the court, through their lawyer, Mr. Lanre Ogunlesi (SAN) stated that in the course of its business activities his company, Tonique Oil Services Limited, applied for and obtained several credit facilities from Zenith Bank Plc, which he pledged three of his properties as securities for the facilities.

They also stated that three different transactions leadings to the legal battle occurred in his company’s Current Account where the alleged excess and illegal interest and charges were discovered. And that upon discovery of the said charges, the company demanded for a reversal but Zenith bank bluntly refused.

The plaintiffs also stated that a forensic accounting firm was engaged to scrutinize and analyse his company’s account and it was then discovered that between August 2006 and December 2013, excess interest and charges on the company by Zenith Bank Plc as accumulated to the tune of N1, 842, 471, 801. 99 billion.

Adejugbe further stated that by a letter dated February 19, 2008, Zenith Bank granted his Company commercial paper facility of N2, 568, 644, 276. 09 billion, to finance the purchase of 30,000MT of Petroleum products, but N2,501,270, 000 billion, was credited into the company’s account.

They also stated that instead of Zenith Bank financing the purchase of 30, 000 MT of Petroleum products for the company as per letter of offer, the Bank diverted the entire sum of N2, 501, 270 billion, for the purchase of its own shares during the bank’s Initial Public Offer (IPO), a conduct he described as unethical, unprofessional and reprehensive.

They further added that out of the sum of N104, 363, 212. 03 million, assessed as dividends payable on the bank’s shares only N42,173,498.43 million was credited into the company’s account leaving outstanding balance of N62, 169, 713. 60. He added that the bank’s shares purportedly bought by his Company with the facilities granted by Zenith bank were managed by the bank so much that the bank eventually liquidated the shares after the value has nose dived and depreciated.

The plaintiffs also stated that another activity on his Company’s current account with Zenith bank, was the sale and purchase of a property in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, that belong to one of the shareholders/customers of the bank who needed to clean up some of his obligations to the bank. And that it was the bank who introduce his company to the shareholders 50,000 square meters of land out of which the company bought 20,000 square meters for the purpose of expanding its business earnings.

In the affidavit in support of the suit, Adejuyigbe averred that to facilitate the purchase of the land, Zenith bank offered the company a term loan of N500,000 and it was part of  the understanding of the company and the bank that after the purchase of the land, the bank will finance the company’s Tank farms to be built thereon.

He further stated that after the purchase of the land, Zenith bank took possession of the title documents of the land as collateral while renege.

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