By Ola Ajayi
AN Ibadan High Court has ordered Diamond Bank Plc to file its statement of defence within 21 days in a suit instituted against it by former members of staff who are challenging their sack.
The former workers of the bank, seven, had challenged their sack by the bank, saying it was wrong, malicious and of no effect.
Five of the workers were accused of conspiring with a customer to defraud the bank of N70 million, while two others were dismissed after they had resigned their appointment with the bank.
But the sacked workers averred that the bank had earlier developed a procedure of granting same day value (immediate credit value) to the accounts of the companies in respect of uncleared cheques drawn on other banks and paid by the customer into the accounts of the companies with the bank.
The names of the ex-workers of the bank contesting their sack are Utieyin Obioru, Adesoji Adekunle, Chukwuma Kalu, Tokunbo Osayemi, Gbolahan Ladoja, Alabi Oloruntobi and Adio Oluwasegun.
Having been allegedly unjustly treated, they are praying the court to order the bank to pay them various sums of money as damages for wrongful dismissal and false imprisonment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Some of them recounted their ordeal in the hands of security agents and the anti-graft agencies for the offence they did not commit.
They alleged that the victimisation of the bank against them was so serious that the bank refused to release them when they secured job in another bank.
At the sitting of the court yesterday, counsel to the defendant, Mrs. A.K Awonusi said she had filed a motion asking for extension of time to give her room to prepare statement of defence.
The presiding judge, Justice Eni Esan in about four different casesÂ filed against the bank by the aggrieved workers, ordered the bank to file all its statements of defence on all the suits within 21 days.
While reacting to the extension of time granted the defendant, the plaintiff counsel, Miss Abimbola Olawumi told newsmen that the defendant had no defence adding that if it had, it would have exhibited before the expiration of the initial time given to them by the court.
She argued that the court had given them time but the defendant had exceeded it and â€œnot doing what is expected of them is a deliberate attempt to delay the hearing of the issueâ€.
Asked if she opposed the motion for extension of time, she said she didnâ€™t because the defendant had the right to be given fair hearing adding that they agreed on seven days but the court used its discretion to give 21 days. Counsel to the defendant refused to grant any interview when newsmen demanded some comments from her.