The Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal, CCPT, sitting in Abuja, on Thursday imposed a fine of N1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira only) on Stanbic-IBTC Bank, over the its failure to complete a transfer request for a customer.
In a split decision of two to one, the Tribunal finds the bank guilty of contravening 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 Court held that 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 judgment delivered by Hon. Sola Salako-Ajulo also ordered the bank to pay the claimant, Mr Clement Osuya, the sum of N1million as the 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 N5million to Mr 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.
Mr 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 8th September 2022, he filled out a form under the 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 in his Access bank account because it was not credited.
Mr Osuya told the tribunal that the 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 source 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 pronounced guilty when there were clearly no charges brought against it.
Counsel to the claimant, Ms Deborah Solomon, on her part, thanked the tribunal for the well-considered judgment.
The fine is to be paid into the tribunal’s Remitta account.