Customer Drags Sterling Bank To Court In A Messy Legal Battle


Sterling Bank Plc are in the news again for all the wrong reason this time around. An aggrieved customer,Dr Adekunle Oladosu, who feels he’s been cheated and short changed over an investment turn sour has Nigerian has finally decided to drag Sterling Bank Plc before a Federal High Court, in Lagos, over an alleged breach of contract.

In an affidavit sworn  filed before the court by his lawyer, Barrister Olali Emmanuel, the deponent averred that Dr Oladosu of 1, Adebiye Close, Langbasa, Ajah, Lekki, Lagos now resident in Canada, sometime in December 2010 opened a fixed deposit account with Sterling Bank Plc at its headquarters and placed the sum of N29 million investment for a 30-day tenor.

After he deposited the N29 million, the bank wrote him a letter of confirmation of the terms of the investment whereby the bank was to roll over the deposit at maturity. Consequently, acting on the sole instruction, the bank rolled over the investment thirty five times and on two occasions the bank wrote the plaintiff notifying him of the transfer of the sum of N212,847.42 being accrued interest on his investment to his account at Guaranty Trust Bank in line with his instruction.

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Yemi Adeola, MD, Sterling-Bank

However, on 11 February, 2014, the plaintiff issued a withdrawal instruction to the bank to the effect that the bank should issue a bank draft for N6 million from his investment in favor of his solicitors but his instruction was blatantly disregarded by the bank though he had sufficient fund to cover his request.

Mr Olali averred further that on 1 March, 2014, Dr Oladosu issued another instruction that his account with the bank should be closed, but the bank also refused.

Consequently, the plaintiff averred that the flagrant dishonoring of his lawful instruction constitutes a gross breach of the bank’s duty which has occasioned damages.

In his particulars of damages the plaintiff contended that the bank acted with utmost recklessness, malice, cruelty, insolence and deceit when it failed to honour the plaintiff’s repeated lawful instructions sent to it.

Being a financial institution, the bank’s deliberate act of flouting the plaintiff’s order was done with the sole aim of making profit for itself by withholding his investment funds and the accrued interest while the plaintiff suffered losses as the transactions in respect of the instructions issued were frustrated.

The plaintiff’s claims against Sterling bank are as follows:

The court declaration that the continued withholding of the investment sum of N29 million now standing at the face value of N36,588,396.46 as at 3 February, 2014 with all accrued interest at the rate of 21% per annum amounts to a breach of the bank/customer contract between the plaintiff and the defendant.

Damages in the sum of N20 million and N10 million being the cost of instituting this legal action.
As at the time of filing this report the bank has not filed any defense.

The case however  has been adjourned till after the courts returns from vacation.

In times like this, banking institutions and other corporate bodies clearly would not want their name in the news for the wrong reasons, especially as the present government is showing day by day that it would not tolerate corruption in the smallest proportion. As for this sterling legal fight, it is yet unclear and too early in the day which way this is going to go. One thing is certain though, it is obviously not business as usual anymore in the country.