Justice Peter Lifu of the Federal High Court, Lagos, has ordered that Providus Bank Limited should transfer back the remaining balance of N329.4 million alleged to have been fraudulently transferred from the account of one of its customers, Aqua 10 Nigeria Limited.
Justice Lifu also awarded the cost of N100,000 against Providus Bank Limited in favour of Aqua 10 Nigeria Ltd.
The judgment of the court was sequel to a suit filed before the court by Barrister Kelechi Chukwu on behalf of Aqua 10 Nigeria Ltd against Providus Bank Limited and seven others namely: Jethra Designs Investment Limited, Vacubeg Group of Companies Limited, Heroes Heights Construction Company Limited, Vacubeg Investment Limited, North Alta Trading Limited, Abiodun Shoyombo trading under the name and style of Seatea Enterprises, Abiodun Afeez Adeyemi trading under the name and style of Adeyemi Digital Enterprises.
In an affidavit sworn to by the Managing Director of the company, Mr Oladipo Okuntola, he alleged that sometime around the 9th and 12th of July 2021, the total sum of N558,569,000 were removed from the account of his company in Providus Bank Limited to the account of Jethra Designs Investment Limited in another bank. The funds were moved in eight (8) tranches.
The funds were meant for the payment for goods to be purchased from HG Hongkong Company Limited and the New Silver Industry Company Limited in China. The funds were again moved from the account of Jethra Designs Investment Limited to Vacubeg Group of Companies Limited. Thereafter Vacubeg in turn moved the funds to the account of Heroes Heights Construction Company Limited. The funds were again moved by Heroes Heights Construction Company Limited account to Vacubeg Investment Limited.
Vacubeg Investment Limited upon receiving the funds moved same back to the account of Vacubeg Group of Companies Limited. Vacubeg Group of Companies Limited then moved the funds to the account of North Alta Trading Limited. The total sum of N329.454,650,296.28 were moved to the three accounts, stated below domiciled in Providus Bank:
- North Alta Trading Limited -N93,361,828.97
- Abiodun Shoyombo Trading under the name and style of Seatea Enterprises- N185,133,525,.08
- Abiodun Afeez Adeyemi Trading under the name and style of Adeyemi Digital Enterprises-N50,959,296.23
Subsequently, it was discovered that internet fraudsters were behind the companies and business names sued as 2nd to 8th defendants in this suit and that the persons behind the companies had fled from Nigeria.
The matter was reported to Interpol, and through Interpol, the movement of the plaintiff’s funds and the persons involved in the fraud were traced. The Plaintiff has requested that its funds be traced to the 6th, 7th and 8th Defendant accounts in the Providus Bank who is also the Plaintiff’s bankers be returned, but the bank is insisting that without the court’s directive or order, the bank will not return the Plaintiff’s funds traced to the 6th, 7th and 8th Defendants’ accounts in the Providus Bank.
The Plaintiff said that unless the Court intervenes, Providus Bank will not return the Plaintiff’s money traced by Interpol into the accounts of the 6th, 7th and 8th Defendants domiciled in the bank. That it is in the interest of justice to grant this application.
He said that the Defendants will not be prejudiced by the grant of this Originating Summons, more so, when the individuals behind the 2nd to 8th Defendants are on the run.
The bank’s counsel, Ifeoluwa Badejo, submitted that the bank reversed the sum of N50,700,000 from the 6th defendant’s account to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission following the order issued by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, and same was not done with intention of interfering with justice in this case.
Justice Lifu in his judgement, ordered as follows:
- The first defendant that is Providus Bank Limited is hereby ordered or directed to move or transfer the plaintiff’s fund in the account of the 6th,7th, and 8th defendants to the plaintiff’s account kept with her.
- Since the sum of N50,700,000 has so far been reversed, the remaining balance in the total sum of N329,454,650.28 that is, less the N50,700,000 should be transferred to the plaintiff’s account forthwith.
- A cost of N100,000 is hereby awarded against PROVIDUS bank Limited but in favour of Aqua 10 Nigeria Limited.