Supreme Court of Nigeria on Wednesday upheld the judgement of a federal high court in the case between the bank and a customer, Mr Patrick Akinkuotu earlier upheld by the court of appeal and ordered Stanbic IBTC Bank to pay N2.5 billion in damages for breach of contract.
This brings to a close a long-running court battle between Stanbic IBTC and Mr Akinkuotu and his company, Long Term Global Capital Ltd who had sued the bank for contractual breaches relating to the repayment of overdraft facilities granted by the bank to Long Term Capital Ltd.
The bank had approached the Supreme Court in hopes of overturning the verdict of the federal high court in Lagos which had ruled that the bank erred in disposing of 28,745,400 units of GTB PLC shares held by Mr Akinkuotu and his company at the sum of N267,775,799.21. The shares had been used in securing the merged overdraft facilities of ₦1.25 billion granted at various points between April and July 2007.
The plaintiffs, who were being represented by Chief Felix Fagbohungbe SAN and Barrister Abayomi Adeniran had contended that the bank’s action to sell those shares based on an unsigned email purportedly from Mr Akinkuotu while ignoring the specific terms of the official sale mandate was tantamount to unprofessional conduct. They also accused the bank of deliberately undervaluing the shares and selling them significantly below market rates.
The trial court after listening to the arguments of both sides had opined that “The law stipulates that court should discountenance an unsigned document as its contents cannot override a duly executed mandate in the circumstances.”
Consequently, it entered judgement in favour of the plaintiffs and awarded ₦2.5 billion in damages against Stanbic IBTC Bank. The bank had swiftly appealed the judgement only to suffer a setback at the court of appeal which upheld the verdict of the lower court.
In a final roll of the dice, the bank took its case to the Supreme Court, asking it to overturn the judgement of the lower court. The five-member panel hearing the case has however dismissed the bank’s appeal for lacking merit and ordered it to comply with the judgement of the federal high court.