DIAMOND Bank Plc may not be comfortable with this petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on allegation of contract scam involving one of its branches in Imo State by Prince Amobi Alfred Ugochukwu, a contractor and Managing Director of Al-Clement Enterprises, at a time several banks are celebrating huge profit and declaring high dividends.
Amobi Alfred Ugochukwu, from Nkwerre Local Government Area, Imo State, lamenting the frustration he said Diamond Bank Plc caused him about 20 years ago, accused the bank of killing his once flourishing business.
In his petition to the EFCC, which is supported by the Imo Initiative, an NGO, Prince Amobi Alfred Ugochukwu, narrated that his company, Al-Clement Enterprises, an indigenous Company involved in contracting services and general merchandise, entered into contracts with the Imo State Secondary Education Management Board (SEMB) and Imo State Primary Education Board for the production of students identity cards on March 10, 1997, valued at over N16 million.
Meanwhile, National Daily discovered that the matter has already been taken to court where the petitioner won at both the High Court and Court of Appeal but lost at the Supreme Court.
It was indicated in the petition that in order to ensure smooth and effective execution of the contract, Prince Amobi Alfred Ugochukwu committed his two accounts with Diamond Bank in Imo for the purpose of accessing money for the project.
The petition disclosed that in executing the Identity Card contract, the then Branch Manager of Diamond Bank in Owerri, at the No. 6 ITEM Street Ikenegbu Layout Office, Reverend Festus Azara, allegedly introduced (for official purpose) the then Special Assistant to the Imo State Administrator (Governor), Reverend Ugochukwu Unachukwu, to Prince Amobi Ugochukwu. “Diamond Bank cajoled and forced me into making the said Reverend Ugochukwu Unachukwu a co-signatory to my Company’s account, where the money for the execution of the contract was lodged into, with a fictitious name “Uzoma Onuoha”. When I protested why Reverend Ugochukwu Unachukwu should bear a fictitious name to be a co-signatory in my company’s account, I was told that it was for security reasons and that Diamond Bank had been doing so for many officials of State Governments in Nigeria,” the Prince protested.
He accused Diamond Bank of being an agent facilitating fraud in State Governments in the country.
Prince Amobi Ugochukwu further narrated: “When I completely became uncomfortable with Reverend Ugochukwu and his “adopted name, Uzoma Onuoha”, especially, when I discovered that the passport photograph in my banks signature Card is not Reverend Unachukwu’s but a fictitious photo, I wrote Diamond Bank of my decision to withdraw the name of the said “Uzoma Onuoha” as co-signatory.
Thereafter, I operated my company’s account without hitches on the 8th of May 1997.”
The petition, which was also copied to the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), indicated that subsequent transactions with the said account at Diamond Bank were stalled with no justifiable reasons. “To my Chagrin, Diamond Bank claimed that they acted on a purported Court Order which placed embargo on my accounts with them. Till date the Bank has failed to produce the so-called Court Order restraining me from having access to my accounts. Of course, there was no Court Order,” Prince Ugochukwu lamented.
It was further indicated that the unprofessional conduct of Diamond Bank compelled the Petitioner to drag the bank to the Law court in 1997.
Prince Ugochukwu said he got judgment in his favour at the High Court, and also
got judgment in his favour at the Appeal Court, the case was, however, the turned the other way at the Supreme Court.
Prominent Legal experts were said to have argued that the Supreme Court erred by twisting the case in favour of Diamond Bank, alleging that the Supreme Court refused to look into the ingredients of the matter due to perceived influence and interference from certain quarters.
Imo Initiative disclosed that some Human Rights groups have indicated interest to battle Diamond Bank Plc due to their several alleged fraudulent exploits against Nigerians and corporate organizations.
National Daily called the Headquarters for clarification but the Corporate Communications Department responded that detail information was not available to the headquarters, neither could they tress the history of the case at the time of our enquiry.