GTbank in trouble for wrongful withdrawals from customer’s account

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One of Nigeria’s biggest banks, Guaranty Trust bank PLC, has been ordered by a Magistrate Court sitting at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to pay the sum of I million Naira to its customer, Dr. Sonny Ajala, SAN, as compensation for illegal and authorized withdrawals made from his account.

Dr. Ajala, had in July, 2019 initiated a legal action against Guaranty Trust Bank PLC, for unauthorized and illegal withdrawal of his hard-earned money from his savings account.

Dr. Ajala, SAN’s account was debited on the 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st May, 2019, for various sums amounting to N37,400.

He discovered the transaction on the 29th May, when he received an alert via his email and immediately called the bank’s online Customer Care number. Upon inquiry, he was told that the payments were Taxify services rendered in Lagos.

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He immediately instructed the online Customer Care representative to block his debit card to prevent POS from further transaction.

The following day being 30th, May, he submitted a letter to the Guaranty Trust Bank PLC, which was acknowledged the same day by the Bank’s branch in Gwarinpa.

On that 30th May, Dr. Ajala, SAN, still received debt from his account amounting to N11,000, despite his earlier instructions to GTBank to block his debit card.

He however, denied composing his Personal Identification Number,(PIN) and insisted that he was not in Lagos at the time of the transaction in this case.

It was also the evidence of Dr. Ajala before the court that taxify apps that are electronic-based thereby making it possible for GTBANK to retrieve the biodata of the client of the taxify merchant. just like it’s easy for the merchant and GTBANK through the banking clearing system to identify the receiver of the illegal payments for nine times from his account with GTBANK.

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In defence a staff of GTBank, who is the account officer to Dr. Ajala, SAN, said the transactions were effected using the plaintiff’s PIN, on the website belonging to Taxify.

She also insisted that the transactions wouldn’t have been completed without using his PIN. She also said that she is not one of the persons authorized to view the platform where the details of the transactions were done.

The distinctive feature of the case is that it was not mere cash withdrawals from the account of Dr. Ajala but traceable electronic payments for nine times via taxify app that Dr. Ajala, SAN has never activated and he was not in Lagos at the time as Dr. Ajala resides in Abuja with his debit card firmly in his closet.

In a judgement, the court ordered Guaranty Trust bank PLC to immediately refund to Dr. Ajala, SAN, the sum of N37,400 with an interest of 10% from 31st of May, 2019 to the date of this judgment.

His Worship Nweke, in his judgment held that GTBank had duty to safeguard the funds of Ajala but she failed in that regard

The court however declined to grant all the declarative reliefs sought by the plaintiff and held that, “It has long been my view that since declarative reliefs, only states the rights of the parties without ordering for special actions, such reliefs should not be brought before the court of summary Jurisdiction.