The Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT) sitting in Abuja on Thursday imposed a fine of N120 million against Stanbic-IBTC Bank over the bank’s failure to complete a transfer request for a customer.
In a split decision of two to one, the tribunal convicted the bank for contravening the provisions of Section 130(1)(a) of the FCCP Act, 2018 and Section 5(2)(8) and (9) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Regulation on Instant Interbank Electronic Transfers.
The tribunal said the fine was imposed due to the bank’s failure to comply with the 10 minutes or at most one hour mandatory timeline for failed transfers to be reversed as provided by Sections 154 and 155 of the FCCP Act, 2018.
The lead judgement delivered by Hon. Sola Salako-Ajulo also ordered the bank to pay the claimant, Mr Clement Osuya, the sum of N1 million as cost of filing the action.
“The tribunal holds that in as much as the defendant (IBTC) failed to comply with the two instructions of the claimant to transfer the sums of N500,000 to another account in Access Bank, as no transfer took place at both times, defines that the defendant breached the banker-customer contractual relationship between the two parties,” Ajulo said.
The tribunal, however, refused to award the sum of N5 million to Osuya as compensation on the grounds that he failed to prove any injury he suffered as a result of the failure of service delivery by the bank.
Hon. Ibrahim Yakubu concurred with the verdict of Salako-Ajulo while the presiding judge, Hon. Chuma Mbonu disagreed and gave a minority judgment.
Mbonu in his minority judgment held that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the petition.
According to him, the tribunal has the powers of appellate jurisdiction and not of original jurisdiction and he consequently struck the suit out for lacking in merit.
The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that Osuya had filed a petition against the bank challenging the failure of the bank on two occasions to transfer the sum of N500,000 from his IBTC account to his Access bank account.
He claimed that the money was for the payment of school fees for his children.
He told the tribunal that on Sept. 8, 2022, he filled out a form under NIS Instant Payment option for a transfer of the sum of N500,000 to his Access Bank account.
He held that whereas the money, on both occasions left his IBTC account as the account was debited, it never arrived his Access bank account because it was not credited.
Osuya told the tribunal that reversal on the first transaction was done after 24 hours while that of the second transaction was reversed after 72 hours.
He further alleged that this neglect of duty of care by the bank caused him trauma, embarrassment and a dent in his reputation as he was forced to collect a loan.
The bank, through its counsel, Mr Marcel Osigbemhe had blamed the failure of the transaction on the third-party NIPS service.
Osigbemhe,in a brief remark expressed his displeasure over the judgment, saying he wondered how his client could be convicted when there were clearly no charges brought against it.
Counsel to the claimant, Ms Deborah Solomon, for her part thanked the Tribunal for the well considered judgment.
NAN reports that the fine is to be paid into the tribunal’s Remitta account.