A customer, Olusola Anthony Adejugbe, and his company Tonique Oil Services Limited, have been ordered by the Federal High Court in Lagos to pay Zenith Bank Plc N6,382,334,421.04.
In a lawsuit brought by Adejugbe and Tonique Oil Services, Justice Ayokunle Faji upheld the bank’s counter-claim.
They had asked the court in the FHC/L/CS/1584/2012 suit for a declaration that the bank could not charge interest on any facilities granted to them above the Central Bank of Nigeria’s official approved policy rate.
They wanted a declaration that any alleged interest charged by any bank above the CBN’s officially approved policy rate is null and void.
The plaintiffs also sought a declaration that Zenith Bank is not permitted to unilaterally change interest rates, unless otherwise agreed, which must be consistent with CBN policy for each successive year starting from the date the transaction was entered into.
They also asked the court to rule that they owed the bank no money or were not owed any money at all.
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The plaintiffs requested a permanent injunction prohibiting the bank or its agents from selling or dealing with the plaintiffs’ collateral without first reconciling the company’s accounts.
The plaintiffs also asked for an order requiring the bank to refund them N1,842,471,801.99, which they claimed was the total excess charges debited from the second plaintiff’s account, as well as N3,212,825,223.64, which was Tonique Oil’s interest due.
They also sought interest at a rate of 21% per annum from the date of the judgement until final liquidation on the total sum of N6,441,369,617.73 owed to the company.
Zenith Bank Plc filed its defence and counter-claim after being served with the plaintiffs’ originating process.
The plaintiffs’ purported expert computation did not reflect the agreed interest rate on the facilities granted to the company for the purchase of petroleum products and acquisition of two hectares of land in Port Harcourt, according to the defendant, who is represented by Mr Sylva Ogwemoh (SAN), a Senior Partner at a commercial law firm Kevin Martin Ogwemoh Legal.
In addition, Zenith Bank stated that the plaintiffs admitted to owing the bank N6,383,911,204.26.
The bank stated that it had initially taken out N2,501,270,000.00 from the plaintiffs’ debt before they agreed to owe N6.3 billion.
The defendant claimed it was taken aback when the plaintiffs requested a waiver of the N3.6 billion and a restructuring of the balance sum of N2.7 billion for a new loan payable over ten years without interest in a letter dated July 6, 2015.
The request and the lawsuit, according to the bank, were part of the plaintiffs’ scheme to avoid paying the debt.
According to the bank, the plaintiffs owed N8,464,176,356.52 as of January 31, 2013.
As a result, Zenith Bank filed a counter-claim, requesting that the court order the plaintiffs to pay the debt.
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Justice Faji agreed with the bank and ordered the plaintiffs to pay their admitted debt.
The plaintiffs’ suit was dismissed in its entirety, and Zenith Bank was awarded first relief in the amount of N6,382,334,421.04.
The court also awarded interest on the judgement sum at a rate of 15% from July 6, 2015 to January 24, 2022, and then at a rate of 10% until the judgement debt was completely paid.
Zenith Bank was also granted permission to enforce Adejugbe’s personal guarantee and to foreclose the plaintiffs’ equitable right to redeem their property pledged as collateral for outstanding debts.
The plaintiffs have filed an appeal, represented by Lanre Ogunlesi (SAN).
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