Unlawful Account Freeze: EFCC and Banks Cannot Take Laws into Their Hands


Tuesday, January 14, 2020  / 05.47AM /  By Unini Chioma of TheNigeriaLawyer  /  Header Image Credit:  Lawyard


"This is a society whose affairs are supposed to be governed and conducted in accordance with the law. The EFCC and the bank taking law into their hands is nothing but shameful."


An Ikeja High Court has ordered Diamond Bank Plc (Access Bank Plc) to pay a Lagos-based legal practitioner, Adetokunbo Odutola, Twenty Five million naira (N25m) as damages for unlawfully freezing his bank account.


Justice S.O. Nwaka held that the bank failed in its duty of care to Odutola and was thus liable for the injury that arose therefrom.


The court held as unacceptable the bank's contention that it froze the lawyer's account on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission's instruction, noting that only a court could make such an order.


Justice Nwaka delivered the judgment in a suit marked LD/ADR/800/17 between Odutola as sole claimant and Diamond Bank as the sole defendant.


The suit originally involved three banks as defendants but the first and third defendants settled with the lawyer out of court, leaving Diamond as the remaining defendant.


The Case


In his statement of claim, Odutola, who represented himself, sought N25m against the bank as both special and general damages he incurred due to the bank's "negligence and breach of duty of care".


He averred that he "suffered embarrassment, hardship, disgrace and loss of income" following the unlawful freezing of his account.


In particular, the lawyer averred that a cheque he issued was rejected by the bank, his practice was financially affected and he had to resort to borrowing "N500,000 to repay N750,000" from a money lender.


The lawyer further stated that during the blockage, he was "engaged in a brief which would have earned him N10mi" but which he lost.


But Diamond Bank, through its counsel, Olatunji Muritala, countered that the cheque was dishonoured on November 29, 2016 when it got a letter from the EFCC asking it to place a lien on the customer's account.


It also challenged the claim for N25m on the ground that Odutola "failed to prove any economic loss suffered when his account was placed on Post No Debit".


The defendant urged the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety and refuse all reliefs sought, with substantial cost against the claimant.


The Judgment


In her judgment of December 16, 2019, the judge upheld the lawyer's claims.


Justice Nwaka held, "The bank went ahead to place PND on the account of the claimant on the instruction of the EFCC. The bank ought to have demanded from the EFCC an order of court to that effect.


"It is not in the power of the EFCC to authorise a PND on any customer's account. The EFCC must not usurp the powers of a court of law. The duty of care owed the claimant by the second defendant (Diamond Bank) is nothing but breached."


The judge said the bank's inaction of not demanding for an order of court or an official letter authorising it to place PND on the claimant's account "amounts to negligence. And this negligence is traced to the embarrassment and loss suffered by the claimant.


"This is a society whose affairs are supposed to be governed and conducted in accordance with the law. The EFCC and the bank taking law into their hands is nothing but shameful."


"I am satisfied that the claimant has proved his case on the preponderance of evidence and I so hold. Judgment is hereby entered for the claimant against the second defendant as per his claims."


Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.



The post Unlawful Account Freeze: Court Orders Bank To Pay Lawyer N25m first appeared in TheNigeriaLawyer on Monday, January 13, 2020.   


Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.


Related Posts

  1. CBN Right of Set-Off - A Case of Regulatory Over-Reach?
  2. AMCON Takes Over Cedar Oil Over N24bn Debt
  3. New Offer Letter Clause for Credit Facilities by Nigerian Banks
  4. CBN Grants Banks' Approval To Debit Loan Defaulters
  5. Debtor Notice: Between Interstella Communications Limited and CBN
  6. FHC Raises Doubt As To The Legality of Foreign Currency-Denominated Loans by Nigerian Banks
  7. P and ID Directors Plead Guilty To Economic Sabotage
  8. AMCON V Shebah E and P: Parties Meet To Resolve Issues
  9. Understanding The AMCON And Shebah Loan Dispute And A Guarantor's Dilemma
  10. CBN Directive On Loan Defaulters: GTB CEO, Segun Agbaje Shares Perspective
  11. Henceforth, Loan Defaults Will Be Settled With Deposits From Other Banks
  12. P and ID vs. Nigeria: A Review by Reuben Abati
  13. UK Court Rules In Favour of Pand ID To Seize $9bn FGN Assets, Nigeria To Appeal Decision
  14. PMB Signs Into Law AMCON (amendment) Act, 2019 That Empowers It Access Financial Details Of Debtors
  15. FG To Enforce Recovery Of N5trn AMCON Debts
  16. ETI Specialized Resolution Company To Appeal Court Judgment On Honeywell Suit
  17. AMCON and The Burden of Debt Recovery in Nigeria - Case Study of 4 Debtors
  18. The Evolution Of Business Rescue In Nigeria
  19. AMCON, AMPs and Debt Recovery Turnaround - First Glance


Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

Related News