The Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT) in Abuja has levied a fine of N120 million against Stanbic-IBTC Bank, led by Demola Sogunle, for its failure to fulfill a customer’s transfer request.
In a split decision with two out of three votes, the tribunal found the bank guilty of contravening 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 tribunal stated that the fine was imposed due to the bank’s non-compliance with the mandatory timeline of 10 minutes or at most one hour for reversing failed transfers, as provided by Sections 154 and 155 of the FCCP Act, 2018.
In the lead judgment delivered by Hon. Sola Salako-Ajulo, the tribunal also ordered the bank to pay the claimant, Mr. Clement Osuya, the sum of N1 million as the cost of filing the action.
“The tribunal holds that since the defendant (IBTC) failed to comply with the claimant’s two transfer instructions of N500,000 to another account in Access Bank, resulting in no transfer taking place on both occasions, the defendant breached the banker-customer contractual relationship,” said Ajulo.
However, the tribunal declined to award Osuya the sum of N5 million as compensation, stating that he failed to prove any injury resulting from the bank’s failure in service delivery.
Hon. Ibrahim Yakubu agreed with Salako-Ajulo’s verdict, while the presiding judge, Hon. Chuma Mbonu, disagreed and provided a minority judgment.
Mbonu, in his minority judgment, held that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain the petition, as its powers lie in appellate jurisdiction rather than original jurisdiction. Consequently, he struck out the suit for lacking merit.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Osuya had filed a petition against the bank, challenging its failure on two occasions to transfer the sum of N500,000 from his IBTC account to his Access Bank account. Osuya claimed the money was intended for his children’s school fees.
He explained that on September 8, 2022, he completed a form under the NIS Instant Payment option for a transfer of N500,000 to his Access Bank account. Although the funds were debited from his IBTC account, they were not credited to his Access Bank account.
Osuya informed the tribunal that the reversal of the first transaction was done after 24 hours, while the second transaction was reversed after 72 hours. He further alleged that the bank’s negligence caused him trauma, embarrassment, and the need to obtain a loan.
The bank, represented by counsel Mr. Marcel Osigbemhe, attributed the transaction failure to the third-party NIPS service.
Osigbemhe expressed his dissatisfaction with the judgment, questioning how his client could be convicted when no charges were brought against it.
Counsel to the claimant, Ms. Deborah Solomon, expressed her gratitude to the tribunal for the well-considered judgment.
NAN reported that the fine is to be paid into the tribunal’s Remitta account.