BREAKING: High Court Orders Opay to pay Customer N12M for Unlawfully Freezing her Account

A customer had dragged Opay to Court for illegal restriction placed on his account without any valid Order of Court of competent jurisdiction. According to the Customer, Amarachukwu Oti, a regular customer of Opay, he was shocked when he could not transact with his account, even when there is no issue he has with Opay.

While he emailed the bank to find out why there was a restriction on his account, the bank simply said they acted based on a Court Order but failed to make the said Court Order available for the customer. The bank, rather than making the purported Court Order of restriction available referred the customer to a Police Unit….CONTINUE READING

After several effort to get the bank remove the unlawful restriction on his bank account, the customer dragged them to Court claiming the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that the Respondent’s act of placing a Post-No-Debit restriction on the Applicant’s account number 7030776897 domiciled with the Respondent since August 2022 till date without any legal justification and thereby denying the Applicant access to his funds in the said account amounts to a breach of the Applicant’s fundamental right guaranteed under Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

A DECLARATION that the Respondent’s act of denying the Applicant access to the funds in its account number 7030776897 domiciled with the Respondent since August 2022 till date without any Order of Court of competent jurisdiction, and which acts frustrated and ruined the Applicant’s business amounts to a breach of the Applicant’s fundamental right guaranteed under Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

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AN ORDER directing the Respondent to remove the unlawful Post-No-Debit restriction placed on the Applicant’s account number 7030776897 domiciled with them forthwith.
AN ORDER restraining the Respondent either by themselves, cronies and/or instigating further Post-No-Debit restriction on the Applicant’s account number
AN ORDER directing the Respondent to pay to the Applicant the sum of NGN100,000,000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira) only as general damages for infringing and violating the Applicant’s fundamental right to ownership of property by placing a post-no-debit restriction on the Applicant’s account for more than three now without any justifiable ground and in the process frustrated and ruined the Applicant’s business and means of livelihood.
AN ORDER directing the Respondent to pay to the Applicant the sum of NGN200,000,000.00 (Two Hundred Million Naira) only as exemplary/punitive damages for its unconscionable infringement and violation of the Applicant’s fundamental right to ownership of property by unlawfully and unjustly placing a restriction on the Applicant’s account.
AN ORDER directing the Respondent to pay to the Applicant, the sum of NGN10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira) only, being cost of this Suit.
AN ORDER directing the Respondent to tender a public apology to the Applicant.

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AND FOR SUCH FURTHER ORDERS as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.

The Customer, through his lawyer, Gabriel Chikwado Eze, Esq submitted that the Respondent, Opay grossly violated the fundamental right of their customer to own movable and immovable property and urge the Court to Order the bank to remove the illegal restriction placed on the account and pay the customer damages. The lawyer further submitted that exemplary, punitive and aggravated damages should be awarded whenever the Respondent’s conduct is sufficiently outrageous to merit punishment as where, for instance, it discloses malice, fraud, cruelty, insolence of flagrant disregard of law and the like.

Although the Respondent was served appropriately, continuing their act of nonchalant, not only ignored the Court process but failed to enter appearance. The Applicant proceeded to adopt his process and the Court adjourned for judgement.

The Court entering judgment in favour of the Applicant on the 6th day of April, 2023 held that:

“there is no gainsaying that the Applicant’s bank account was placed on temporary hold by the Respondent and that the account was restricted on the alleged incessant large inflow of funds. Therefore, the Applicant has established that his account was placed on restriction by the Respondent.”

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Continuing, the Court stated thus:

“Now the question to be answered is “was the Applicant’s rights infringed upon by the restriction placed on his account by the Respondent?” By the email correspondence the Respondent admitted restricting the account of the Applicant although with an alleged order of court and directed the Applicant to the Cryptography and Cybercrime Unit (CCU) of the Force Intelligence Bureau, Abuja to resolve the issues.”

According to the Court, when the Applicant’s legal representative demanded a copy of the court order via the same email with which the account was restricted from the Respondent and the said order of court was not made available to the Applicant or his legal representation. Restating the stance of the Court in such circumstance, the Court held that the Respondent has no power to freeze a customer’s account on account of an instruction from the Police without a valid Court Order and that so doing constitutes a flagrant disregard and violation of the rights of a customer.

The Court therefore Ordered Opay to remove the unlawful restriction placed on the customer’s account. The Court further Ordered them to pay the customer N12,000,000.00 (Twelve Million Naira) only and to tender a public apology to the Applicant in any of the national dailies within 6 weeks from the date of the judgment….CONTINUE READING