The United Bank for Africa (UBA) have been accused of unauthorised account openings, with its latest victim being Mr. Chiebuka Nworah.
Documents obtained from West Africa weekly report, shows that, the Federal High Court in Lagos, had on May 6, 2022, headed by Justice Akintayo Aluko, became the first Nigerian judge to issue a ruling against a Nigerian bank for opening an account using a customer’s identity without their knowledge and authorisation.
According to the case file, the complainant, Mr. Chiebuka Nworah received a $450 payment in March 2021. Instead of his UBA domiciliary account which he had opened with the bank in 2020, however, this payment went to a new domiciliary account that the bank had opened for him without his knowledge or permission. Upon receiving an SMS alert from the bank informing him about his new account and the $450 credited into it, he visited UBA’s head office at Marina, Lagos, demanding an explanation.
The bank’s risible explanation was that it had opened the new account for him so as to comply with the CBN’s ‘Naira 4 Dollar’ scheme which authorised banks to set up domiciliary accounts for customers that did not have them. Seeing as he already had a domiciliary account, this was clearly a nonsensical reason, but the bank refused to refund the money into his existing account or close the fraudulent account, even after he wrote to them with these demands twice.
Nworah decided to go to court, and then – coincidentally – UBA immediately sent his lawyer a letter claiming that the new account had been opened due to a “system glitch” and that the $450 had been refunded to his existing account. No bank statement or proof was provided to corroborated the alleged refund.
Delivering his ruling, Justice Aluko said:
“The content of the letter of the Respondent’s counsel dated 16/11/2021 is a further confirmation establishing the bank’s violation of the applicant’s right to privacy provided in Section 37 of the constitution. I agree with the Applicant that he is entitled to compensation in terms of damages for the Respondent’s wrongful, unjustified, unlawful and unwarranted breach and infraction of his constitutional right to privacy.”
Nworah was awarded N2,500,000 in damages against UBA, which was ordered to pay a further N100,000 in costs.
There have been series of complaints from customers on alleged fraud perpetrated in the bank.
Head of Corporate Communications for UBA, Nasir Ramon, was not available for comments at the time of this report.