January 14, 2020 / 05.47AM / By Unini Chioma of
TheNigeriaLawyer / Header Image
"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."
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.
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.
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.
Nwaka delivered the judgment in a suit marked LD/ADR/800/17 between
Odutola as sole claimant and Diamond Bank as the sole defendant.
suit originally involved three banks as defendants but the first and third
defendants settled with the lawyer out of court, leaving Diamond as the
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".
averred that he "suffered embarrassment, hardship, disgrace and loss of income" following the unlawful freezing of his account.
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.
lawyer further stated that during the blockage, he was "engaged in a brief
which would have earned him N10mi" but which he lost.
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.
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".
defendant urged the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety and refuse all
reliefs sought, with substantial cost against the claimant.
her judgment of December 16, 2019, the judge upheld the lawyer's claims.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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."
The post Unlawful Account Freeze:
Court Orders Bank To Pay Lawyer N25m first appeared in TheNigeriaLawyer on Monday, January 13,
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