The Federal Capital territory High Court will on Monday in Abuja adopt the final written addresses by lawyers to the parties in a N20billion lawsuit slammed against Zenith Bank for breach of contract, banking rules and gross incompetence that resulted to huge financial losses to Obigs and Owigs Nigeria Limited.
Barrister Jude Nwachukwu is counsel to the plaintiffs, while Zibiri Samuel, SAN, represents the defendants.
Recall that the company, a Zenith Bank customer, had in 2016 dragged the bank to court for breach of contract, infringement of bank/customer relationship, incompetence, negligence and professional malpractice that made the plaintiffs to lose three contracts to supply solid minerals to Chinese buyers.
The Plaintiffs claimed that bank’s action and inaction made them suffer loss to the tune of $35million US dollars.
In the matter, with suit no. FCT/HC/M/63TI/16, Owigs and Obigs are seeking $35million US dollars as damages. According to the firm, it represents the value of the contracts lost.
The company is also praying the court to award additional N2billion as exemplary damages for the bank’s tort of negligence, which has caused the plaintiffs to lose goodwill and further contract opportunities in China. Plus another sum of N1billion as aggravated damages.
The matter first came up on 7 December 2016 before Justice Angela O. Otaluka for hearing.
The plaintiffs alleged that Zenith Bank, through its unprofessional handling of its (plaintiff’s) business, caused them to lose the contracts in 2014 with Chinese company, King-Tan Tantalum Industry (KTTA) for the supply of solid minerals by an unauthorized withdrawal of $4, 486.04 from the plantiff’s Domiciliary Account thereby causing an immediate termination of the contract that should have triggered the second phase of the contract spanning for a period of three years with a value of ! $200m, only if the first phase was successfully completed.
Owigs and Obigs had in the writs of summon deposed that the deliberate unauthorized removal of funds from its account by Zenith Bank caused the termination of the execution of a duly secured foreign contract valued at $64, 107,180.00. ( Sixty- Four Million, One Hundred and Seven Thousand, One Hundred and Eighty Dollars) after it had already committed for export $10 million worth of material goods as a part fulfillment of the contract term. The company averred that all attempts it made to get clarification from Zenith Bank as to why the contract was terminated and funds illegally withdrawn from its accounts was rebuffed by the bank.
Owigs and Obigs also said the unauthorized withdrawal contravenes the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991 and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Act. Adding that they were forced to retrench 75 staff and shelf its plan of employing over 900 more hands. Consequently, the plaintiff therefore claims against Zenith Bank N2 billion as damages “for the loss of goodwill and further trading opportunities with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce/ International Chamber of Commerce of Asia and local suppliers of solid minerals as well as sundry/ collateral expenses incurred in securing and running three foreign contracts with Chinese companies but which were all lost as a result of the unilateral termination of these contracts by the defendant.”
It was learnt that Zenith Bank sequel to the legal action against her as contained in the plaintiff’s reply to defendant’s statement of defence filed on 02 Nov 2016, had instituted different rounds of negotiations with the Plaintiff after tendering an apology, but did not follow through on its promises to indemnify the Plaintiff against all the incurred losses causing Owigs and Obigs to seek redress in the court of law.
Calls put through to Zenith bank phone numbers were not answered and there was no response to emails sent to them, as at the time of filing this report.