Christ Loveworld Christian Network Television established by the Christ Embassy Church for the dissemination of the word of God has instituted a N3.8 billion suit against Zenith Bank Plc and one of its manager John Osajele over alleged unauthorised excessive charges, wrongful entries, and mismanagement of its accounts.
In a renewed legal battle via amended statement of claim filed before the Federal High Court in Lagos, by Chief Paul Omoijiade, the Church Television Station stated that as a prime customer of the bank it maintains four different accounts with the bank in the following manner.
1.Christ Embassy South Africa Project account.
2.Loveworld SAT Telecom
3.Christ Embassy Loveworld Project.
4.Christ Embassy South Africa Project.
The sole signatory to these accounts is Pastor Oye Oyakhilome.
The bank granted the plaintiff through these accounts the sum of N970million loan, but failed to avail them with the statement of accounts to facilitate proper reconciliation and determine the true liabilities of the Plaintiff to the bank in breach of Central Bank of Nigeria Monetary Policy Circular 42:3.2.7.(e).
Which provides, “A statement account shall be rendered promptly, to each account holder, minimally, on a monthly basis free of charge and shall include:
1.Rate of interest on overdrawn accounts,the amount and the period, and, in Details of operation of the account during the month.”
The Plaintiff executed an indemnity with the bank on the 18th March, 2011 wherein it was expressly stated that all written instructions for any withdrawal or transfers from the Plaintiff’s current accounts shall be on written instructions to be communicated to the bank through post or facsimile or Email, thereafter the Plaintiff gave Email instructions between 2010 and 2016 to the bank to debit its account for the credit of several beneficiaries indicated on the mail.
The Plaintiff did not give any instruction outside Email instruction, but on 2nd of June, 2016, the bank wrote it that Loveworld SAT was indebted to it up to the tune of N786million.
The Plaintiff disputed the sum and contracted an auditing firm to reconcile the accounts.
The review of the accounts by the consultant revealed excess charges to the tune of N696,337,434.00.
Consequently, summary of sum due to the Plaintiff are as follows:
A. Unauthorised disbursement: N696,337,434.00.
B. Excess Charges:N,9,556,721.00
C. Account Credit Balances:N297,507,096.00
The plaintiff states that while the reconciliation of the accounts were in progress REV. Oyakhilome, Pastor ( Mrs) Ose Oyakhilome, Pastor Modupe Osideko and Pastor Iruka Edema were arrested on 7th, July 2016 by the Nigerian Police, Homicide Section, Alagbon, following a report from Zenith bank that the above name persons defrauded the bank.
The parties were further invited for a meeting on 7th December, 2016 by Deputy Inspector General of Police DIG Federal Criminal Investigation Department Abuja with a view to resolving the disputed liabilities and in the said meeting, it was agreed that parties should meet to reconcile the account within two weeks and revert back to the DIG.
However on the 5th of February, 2017 the Economic and Financial Crime commission (EFCC) invited the Plaintiff via letter through Ose Oyakhilome, Pastor Modupe Osideko and REV. Ken Oyakhilome for interview with the head of CTGI/P at their Ikoyi Office., Lagos.
The Plaintiff averred that despite its several and strenuous demand for its statement of account from the bank, the bank failed/refused to make the statement available to the Plaintiff and unilaterally debited the account without mandate with entries listed in the audit report.
The Plaintiff contended that Zenith bank breached its duty of care to her by deliberately and recklessly acting in the following manner inter alia:
1.Charging and debiting the Plaintiff’s accounts with unlawful, excess charges and authorised debits thereby taking advantage of exploiting the Plaintiff and causing it to incur losses
ii. Applying the funds in the Plaintiff’s accounts arbitrarily and unilaterally without the Plaintiff’s mandate, debit the accounts thereby effectively frustrating the Plaintiff’s attempt to liquidate the loan.
The Plaintiff averred to contend at the trial of this suit that Zenith Bank and its General manager John Osajele are liable to pay damages in the sum of N3.889Billion to the Plaintiff as compensation for the loss of income caused by the unauthorised debits and the excess charges by the defendants.
Consequently, the Plaintiff claims the following reliefs from the defendants jointly and severally as follows :
An order of the court compelling Zenith bank to pay the sum of N3,889,622,610.73.being and representing general and exemplary damages for the its breach of contract.
An order of the court for the release to the Plaintiff of the funds held in the following accounts:
1.Christ Embassy SA Project Account DSRA N15million
ii. Christ Embassy SA Project Call Account N248,710,500.
iii. South Africa Debt Service Reserve Account N25 million .
An order for the release of the Plaintiff’s Treasury Bills of N8,796,596.00 purchased for the Plaintiff and accrued interest held by the defendants.
An order of the court for the payment of interest on the above sums.
An order that the income generated by the bank in the utilisation of the Plaintiff’s excess interest and the unauthorised charges should be refunded taking into consideration the credit multiplier the reserve ratio, the value of money created by the bank with the excess interest and unauthorised debts.
A declaration by the court that the manipulation of the EFCC and the Nigerian Police by Zenith bank and its official to incessantly invite, intimidate,harass,arrest, and detain, the officers of Loveworld SAT namely REV. Oyakhilome, Pastor Modupe Osideko and Pastor Iruka Edema on trump up charges over purely commercial transactions constitute flagrant disregard to the rule of law and violate their fundamental human right as guaranteed under the 1999 constitution.
An order of the court compelling Zenith Bank to write letter of apology to the Plaintiff for mismanaging its accounts in total dis-regard to Central Bank of Nigerian guidelines.