By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Omais Investment Nigeria Limited, a building and civil engineering contractor, has dragged Ecobank Nigeria Limited before a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos for allegedly listing its name as having bad credit and making unfair report about its accounts to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Joined in a writ of summons filed by its lawyer, Ehizogie Esezobor, was the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In the suit, Omais was asking the court for an order directing the first defendant to pay it a sum of N2billion as damages for negligent mis-statements. Other reliefs sought by the plaintiff include, “an order of restorative injunction directing the first and second defendants to remove the plaintiff’s company name from the CBN’s Credit Risk Management System (CRMS) database as a customer having a ‘non-performing loan’; a declaration that the first defendant’s listing of the plaintiff’s accounts with the CBN’s CRMS database as a non-performing loan amount to negligent mis-statements”.
The plaintiff, in a 21 point statement of claim deposed to in support of the writ of summon, averred that it used to operate two accounts with the defunct Oceanic Bank International Bank Plc and that following 100 per cent acquisition of Oceanic Bank by the first defendant in 2011, it became its customer adding that being its bankers, the first defendant owed it a fiduciary duty of care.
The plaintiff averred that it operated a corporate account and a Pearl account with the first defendant and that as at October 15, 2009, it had N637,958.69 standing credit in its Pearl account and N301,777.46 in its corporate account as at October 30, 2009 as at the time it stopped transacting and doing business on these accounts with the first defendants.
It stated that between October, 2009 and October, 2014, it has had cause to obtain and has obtained several facilities from various commercial banks to the tune of N5billion and has always repaid this loan as at when due adding that its annual turn over was not less than one billion Naira.
The plaintiff averred that it came to the company as a rude shock and surprise when in an attempt to obtain a loan from Diamond Bank Plc in January, 2015 and it was revealed that the first defendant had listed the plaintiff as having bad credit at the CRMS of the second defendant to the tune of N6 million in spite that it has not been informed at any time, since 2009 when it stopped transactions with the first defendant, by a letter of demand, notification, by way of a statement of account or by any other medium whatsoever that it was indebted to the first defendant in any sum.
It claimed to have written two letters to the first defendant dated January 20 and February 24, 2015 respectively, demanding for a removal/retraction of the report but that the first defendant, in spite of acknowledging the letters, did not respond until March 5, 2015. It claimed that the first defendant, in its reply “unequivocally and expressly admitted having made erroneous deductions in plaintiff’s accounts and despite these admissions refused to remove the plaintiffs name from the CBN’s CRMS database as having a bad credit.”
Omais claimed that since 2011 he had involved in a suit number ID/1432/2011 against the defunct Oceanic Bank at the Lagos state high and had appeared at the Lagos state multi door courthouse severally with the aim of resolving all issues of indebtedness between parties but that the first defendant did not in any manner raised the supposedly debt.
The plaintiff averred that the acts of the first defendant by reporting that it had bad credit to CRMS have been done intentionally, unjustly and in bad faith as it claimed that the defendant did not in any manner whatsoever disclosed this debt despite having ample opportunity to do so.
In its particulars of claim, the plaintiff stated that the first defendant breached the fiduciary duty of care owed it by virtue of CBN’s Prudential Guidelines for Licensed Banks and that representations made by listing its accounts as non-performing loan in the CRMS database were false, untrue, inaccurate and misleading.
It claimed that it has become practically impossible for the plaintiff to obtain facilities from any other financial institutions in the country to carry on its businesses and consequent upon which it has grounded to a halt.
The plaintiff claimed to have suffered colossal losses and damages, seriously injured in its businesses as a result of its being listed in the database insisting that the representation was done maliciously, without just cause or excuse and was allegedly calculated by the first defendant to cause pecuniary damage to its business. The plaintiff urged the court to grant all the reliefs sought in its statement of claim. No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.