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Pastor Chris Oyakhilome sues Zenith Bank for N3.889billion

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome sues Zenith Bank for N3.889billion

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy Church is locked in a N3.889billion battle with Zenith Bank over four accounts operated by his Christ Loveworld Christian Network Television.
The television network was established by the church to propagate the gospel worldwide.
The preacher instituted the N3.8billion suit against Zenith Bank Plc and Mr John Osajele, one of its managers for unauthorised excessive charges, wrongful entries and mismanagement of the four accounts.
In an amended statement of claim filed before the court by Paul Omoijiade, the TV company stated that as a prime customer it maintained four different accounts with the bank namely:
1. Christ Embassy South Africa Project account.
2. Loveworld SAT Telecom
3. Christ Embassy Loveworld Project.
4. Christ Embassy South Africa Project.
The sole signatory to these accounts is Pastor Oye Oyakhilome.
The bank granted the plaintiff through these accounts the sum of N970million loan but failed to avail it of the statement of accounts to facilitate proper reconciliation and determine the true liabilities of the Plaintiff to the bank in breach of the Monetary Policy Circular 42:3.2.7. (e) of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN which provides that “A statement of account shall be rendered promptly, to each account holder, minimally, on a monthly basis free of charge and shall include rate of interest on overdrawn accounts, the amount and the period, and details of operation of the account during the month.”
The Plaintiff claimed it executed an indemnity with the bank on March 18, 2011 wherein it was expressly stated that all written instructions for any withdrawal or transfers from the four current accounts shall be on written instructions to be communicated to the bank through post or facsimile or e-mail. Thereafter the Plaintiff gave e-mail instructions between 2010 and 2016 to the bank to debit its accounts for the credit of several beneficiaries indicated on the mail.
The Plaintiff claimed it did not give any instruction outside e-mails but that on June 2, 2016, Zenith Bank wrote it that Loveworld SAT owed it N786million. The Plaintiff disputed the sum and hired an audit firm to reconcile the accounts. The consultant unearthed excess charges running into several hundreds of millions of naira.
Consequently, the Plaintiff summarized the sum due to it as N1,003,401,251. This was made up of:
A. Unauthorised disbursement: N696,337,434.00.
B. Excess Charges: N9,556,721.00
C. Account Credit Balances: N297,507,096.00
Oyakhilome’s Loveworld (the plaintiff) stated that while the reconciliation of the accounts was in progress Rev. Oyakhilome, Pastor (Mrs), Ose Oyakhilome, Pastor Modupe Osideko and Pastor Iruka Edema were arrested on July 7, 2016 by men of the Nigerian Police, Homicide Section, Alagbon, Lagos, following a report from Zenith Bank that they defrauded the bank.
The parties were further invited for a meeting on December 7, 2016 by Deputy Inspector General of Police, Federal Criminal Investigation Department, Abuja, with a view to resolving the disputed liabilities. At the meeting, the parties agreed to meet and reconcile the account within two weeks and revert to the DIG.
However on the February 5, 2017 the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, invited the Plaintiff via letter through Ose Oyakhilome, Pastor Modupe Osideko and Rev. Ken Oyakhilome for interview at their Ikoyi, Lagos, office.
The Plaintiff averred that despite its several and strenuous demand for its statement of account from the bank, it failed/refused to make the statement available but unilaterally debited the accounts without mandate with entries listed in the audit report.
The Plaintiff contended that Zenith Bank breached its duty of care to it by deliberately and recklessly acting in the following manner:
1. Charging and debiting the Plaintiff’s accounts with unlawful, excess charges and unauthorised debits thereby exploiting the Plaintiff and causing it to incur losses.
ii. Applying the funds in the Plaintiff’s accounts arbitrarily and unilaterally without the Plaintiff’s mandate, debit the accounts thereby effectively frustrating the Plaintiff’s attempt to liquidate the loan.
The Plaintiff said it would contend at the trial of the suit that Zenith Bank and John Osajele are liable to pay damages in the sum of N3.889billion to it as compensation for the loss of income caused by the unauthorised debits and the excess charges.
Consequently, the Plaintiff claimed the following reliefs from the defendants jointly and severally:
• An order of the court compelling Zenith Bank to pay the sum of N3,889,622,610.73 being and representing general and exemplary damages for its breach of contract.
• An order of the court for the release to the Plaintiff of the funds held in the following accounts:
1. Christ Embassy SA Project Account – DSRA N15million
ii. Christ Embassy SA Project Call Account – N248,710,500
iii. South Africa Debt Service Reserve Account – N25million
• An order for the release of the Plaintiff’s Treasury Bills of N8,796,596.00 purchased for the Plaintiff and accrued interest held by the defendants.
• An order of the court for the payment of interest on the above sums.
• An order that the income generated by the bank in the utilisation of the Plaintiff’s excess interest and the unauthorised charges should be refunded taking into consideration the credit multiplier, reserve ratio, value of money created by the bank with the excess interest and unauthorised debits.
• A declaration by the court that the manipulation of the EFCC and the Nigerian Police by Zenith Bank and its official to incessantly invite, intimidate, harass, arrest, and detain, the officers of Loveworld SAT namely Rev. Oyakhilome, Pastor Modupe Osideko and Pastor Iruka Edema on trumped up charges over purely commercial transactions constitute flagrant disregard to the rule of law and violate their fundamental human right as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution.
• An order of the court compelling Zenith Bank to write letter of apology to the Plaintiff for mismanaging its accounts in total disregard to Central Bank of Nigeria’s guidelines.

About Demola Abimboye