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Illegal Deductions: Customers Drag Bank To Court, Demand N10m Damages

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Three customers of Polaris Bank have dragged the bank before a Surulere Magistrate Court in Lagos over alleged unjustifiable freezing of their domiciliary and naira accounts with the bank and subsequent illegal deductions on the said accounts amounting to about $30,769.

The applicants, Mrs. Adebomi Orogun, Mrs. Kehinde Banjo, and Mrs. Oluwatoyin Ode, in an originating application brought pursuant to Order 1 Rule 2 of the Magistrate Courts Civil Procedure Rules of Lagos State (2009), accused the bank of freezing their US dollar, euro and naira accounts with the bank without a valid court order.

They said the bank proceeded to make unauthorised deductions from their accounts without any justification whatsoever as there was no time they were accused of engaging in fraudulent activities with the said accounts.

In her affidavit in support of the application, the first applicant (Orogun), who maintained dollar, euro, and naira accounts with Polaris Bank, said the bank usually deducts the requisite commission after every transaction she made.

According to her, “I regularly transact on my euro account (3049994742) with the bank. I recently wanted to transfer money with my euro account, only to discover that I no longer have access to make any transaction.

“I also discovered that there was no available balance left in my dollar account. I was confused and had to make an inquiry with the bank to know the reason why I no longer have access to my euro account and why my dollar account was cleared out. However, I was informed by the bank that they had not been deducting the proper commission per transaction on my account which they only commenced later and ultimately led to my dollar account being cleared out.

“This action carried out by the bank was done entirely without recourse to me, who believed that all due commissions had been deducted, and I had enough balance to plan my life with. On March 4, 2022, I was shocked to discover that all my accounts (USD, euro, and naira) with the respondent (Polaris Bank) had been frozen and a ‘post no debit’ order was placed on them.”

Orogun said she was neither informed nor given a satisfactory reason for the act by the respondent, adding: “I did not engage in any fraudulent activity nor have I been officially accused of same by the bank. Hence, the freezing and placing of a ‘post no debit’ order on my accounts was totally unnecessary.”

She stated that the actions of the respondent greatly disrupted her business activities and also subjected her to financial cruelty with no hope as to when her accounts would be unfrozen.

“The actions of the respondent have also caused financial distress due to my inability to complete pending transactions,” she averred.

The two other applicants deposed to similar facts in their affidavit in support of the application, narrating to the court how the alleged ‘cruel act’ of the bank had caused them great discomfort and economic setback.

They said they had written to the bank to unfreeze their accounts and return the illegal deductions made, all to no avail, a development that necessitated the filing of the matter before the court.

The applicants are, therefore, asking the court to give an order directing the bank to revert their accounts back to the status quo as of January 17, 2022.

They are also asking for an order mandating Polaris Bank to pay them N10million as damages for the financial hardship caused to them by the actions of the bank.

When the matter came up before the Surulere Magistrate Court yesterday, the court held that there was no proof that the respondent had been served.

The matter was thereafter adjourned till June 6, 2022.

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