A Magistrate Court sitting in the Surulere area of Lagos State has ordered Polaris Bank to refund $30,769 it illegally deducted from domiciliary and naira accounts of three businesswomen.
Magistrate Oluwatoyin Otitoju, while presiding over the matter on Wednesday, held that the action of the bank was illegal and void.
Adebomi Orogun, Kehinde Banjo, and Oluwatoyin Ode, the businesswomen, had sued the bank over unjustifiable freezing of their accounts and subsequent illegal deductions on the said accounts.
In an application brought pursuant to Order 1, Rule 2 of the Magistrates’ Courts Civil Procedure Rules of Lagos State (2009), the businesswomen told the court how their US dollar, euro, and naira accounts were frozen by 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.
Orogun, in her affidavit in support of the application, said the bank usually deducted the requisite commission after every transaction she made.
She said, “I regularly transact on my euro account with the bank. I recently wanted to transfer money with my euro account, only to discover that I no longer had access to make any transaction.
“I also discovered that there was no available balance left in my USD account. I was confused and had to make an inquiry with the bank to know the reason I no longer had access to my euro account and why my USD 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 USD 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 the 4th of March, 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 the bank neither informed nor gave her a satisfactory reason for its actions. She also said she had never been accused of fraud, so she found the action unnecessary.
“I did not engage in any fraudulent activity nor had I been officially accused of same by the bank. Hence, the freezing and placing of a ‘post no debit’ on my accounts was totally unnecessary,” she said.
The other applicants also deposed to affidavits containing similar facts.
The bank failed to either show up or present any evidence to counter the claim of the applicants.
“An order of this honourable court is hereby made declaring the ‘post no debit’ order placed on the 1st applicant’s USD, euro and naira accounts, and 2nd applicant’s USD and naira accounts, and 3rd applicant’s USD and naira accounts by the respondent (Polaris Bank) as illegal,” the court ruled.
“An order of this honourable court is hereby made declaring the unauthorised deductions from the 1st applicant’s USD account, 2nd applicant’s USD account, and 3rd applicant’s USD account as illegal and void.
“An order of this honourable court is hereby made directing the respondent to revert the applicants’ accounts back to status quo as of 17th January 2022.”
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