A businessman who wants a loan is almost ready to do anything. He would grovel if the loan officer asks him to, he would bark like a dog if he needs to. However, the moment the loan is granted, he becomes egoistic and wants to cross all the ‘T’s and dot the ‘I’s of the contract.
This seems the story of the average Nigerian businessman who needs a loan for his business, but is just not ready to pay back, so he consciously or unconsciously schemes a way out.
Like a lazy young man being fed by his father, he begins to imagine that he could have gotten a better deal. He starts to ask himself how he didn’t see the loopholes in the contract forgetting that the so-called loopholes were the condition for granting the loan, and that he only got the loan because the bank offered it to him on their term, a term he gladly accepted.
With the number of bank/businessmen cases scattered in several courts all over Nigeria, one is forced to wonder if businessmen makeup their minds not to pay back loans obtained from banks. One is also forced to ask if these men obtaining the loans are aware that if they don’t pay back, others won’t get.
In most cases, businessmen tag the bank the villain, the bully and the thief. Tales of interest not properly calculated abound; gist of banks dragging their customers to court to recoup their monies is like a never ending story in Nigeria. But in all of the situations, businessmen and some soft brained individuals conclude that the bank is the one to be blamed.
Generally, businessmen seem to easily reach a quick concluded that the bank is always after their collateral and business. Shamefully, issues that are supposed to be sorted in court become a social media topic, a farce indeed.
One fact which can and should never be forgotten is that a man who borrows should know that he would on an agreed date payback his debt. This is the basic meaning of a loan, but it seems to elude some Nigerian businessmen.
This is not the story of GTBank and Innoson, no it is not. In fact, it is the tale of a seemingly endless trend being suffered by Nigerian banks in the hands of businessmen, who obtain loans that they don’t intend to pay back or are just too dull to manage profitably. Access Bank, Zenith Bank and several other banks have walked this path and the truth is that soon, banks might decide not to give out loans anymore, who will blame them?
The GTBank/Innoson legal battle is just another story of a loan granted with reluctance to pay back. Below is a basic analysis of what went wrong.
- GTBank (in 2009) granted Innoson several credit facilities (i.e loans) totalling N2,400,000,000,00 (two billion, four hundred million Naira only), to part finance working capital requirements, import new motorcycles and motorcycle spare parts, agricultural spare parts and plastic manufacturing equipment (“Imported Goods”).
- Under the loan terms agreed by Dr. Innocent Chukwuma on behalf of Innoson, proprietary interest in the Imported Goods was consigned exclusively in favour of the Bank. This means that the Bank was the exclusive owner of the Imported Goods. Accordingly, the original shipping documents (i.e. the Bills of Lading) were in the custody of the Bank, and have remained in the custody of the Bank at all times.
- Because GTBank was the exclusive owner of the imported goods, ownership of the goods could only be transferred to Innoson (or any other third party) by the Bank. The condition in the agreement between the Bank and Innoson, for the release of the Imported Goods by the Bank to Innoson, was the payment of 25% of the value of each Letter of Credit transaction by Innoson.
- Innocent Chukwuma approached the Bank, on behalf of Innoson, requesting the release of the shipping documents without payment of the agreed+ 25% equity. The Bank declined his request as a result of Innoson’s failure to meet the agreed conditions.
- It came to the Bank’s knowledge sometime in June, 2011 that the Imported Goods for which the Bank declined to release shipping documents to Innoson in view of its failure to meet the agreed conditions, had been fraudulently procured by Innoson.
- The Bank discovered that Innoson, under the control of Dr. Innocent Chukwuma, had forged the Bank’s endorsement on the bills of lading to the Shipping Line and fraudulently cleared the Imported Goods which were in the name of the Bank. The Imported Goods, being property of the Bank should not have been cleared from the Port without the original shipping documents being endorsed by the Bank in favour of Innoson, or any third party.
- The signatures of 4 (four) staff of the Bank, to wit, Taofeek Olalere, Dan Attah, Bunmi Adeyemi and Amazu Amalachukwu, as well as the Bank’s stamp were forged on all the shipping documents used by Innoson to fraudulently clear goods at the port. The Bank did not at any time endorse or transfer the shipping documents to Innoson, as the originals of each of the relevant Bill of Lading remain in the Bank’s custody to this very day.
- When the Bank reported the matter to the Nigeria Police, Dr. Innocent Chukwuma claimed the Bank released the shipping documents to him. Consequently, the Police commenced investigation into the Bank’s complaint, including a forensic examination of the disputed signatures, and established that the signatures of the Bank’s staff were forged, and the Imported Goods were fraudulently cleared from the Nigerian Ports Authority by Dr. Innocent Chukwuma and his accomplices.
The Police Angle:
- Police investigations confirmed that Innoson and Dr. Innocent Chukwuma deliberately set out to defraud, steal from the Bank and convert the Imported Goods belonging to the Bank by deceptive means and through forgery and misrepresentation. The unlawful takeover of the Imported Goods, which served as the Bank’s collateral, left an indebtedness in excess of the sum of N1,654,481,895.04 (one billion, six hundred and fifty four million, four hundred and eighty one thousand, eight hundred and ninety five Naira, four Kobo) as at September 26, 2012.
- Chief Innocent Chukwuma was arrested and interrogated by operatives of the EFCC, following which he agreed to make monthly payments into Innoson’s account until the full liquidation of Innoson’s indebtedness to the Bank. However, Innoson defaulted in making the agreed payments. Investigations by the Nigeria Police following a petition by the Bank in September 2013 also found Innoson and Chief Innocent Chukwuma culpable of the criminal allegations levied against them by the Bank, and Chief Innocent Chukwuma was accordingly charged to court by the Police.
- The Police filed Charge No. FHC/L/565C/2015-Inspector General Of Police And Innoson Nigeria Limited; Innocent Chukwuma;Charles Chukwuma;Maximian Chukwura; Mitsui Osk Lines; Annajekwu Sunny for fraudulent clearance of goods, forgery, conversion, stealing and conspiracy presently pending before Faji J, at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi and adjourned to November 21, 2017 for arraignment/or hearing of motion for issuance of Bench Warrant.
- Innoson approached the Bank for a reconciliation of his account and pleaded for a debt forgiveness. A reconciliation was carried out on the account – which had a debit balance of N1,654,481,895.04 as at December 31, 2011. In the spirit of amicable resolution and EFCC intervention, the Bank said it agreed to forego the sum of N559,374,072.09 which represented default charges that has accrued on the account and debited in line with the loan agreement between the customer and the Bank.
- Based on this, the Bank decided to accept from the customer, the sum of N1,095,107,822.95 as full and final payment of the customer’s indebtedness to the Bank, provided that same shall be fully paid not later than (30) days from the date of the letter written to him
- Surprisingly, Innoson commenced suit no: FHC/AWK/CS/2012 against the Bank at the Federal High Court, Awka stating the bank had debited its account with excess charges totalling N559,374,072.09 and obtained judgement in excess of N4.7Billion against the Bank. Again, choosing to dishonour an agreement that was amicable reached between him and the Bank for a full and final settlement of N1,095,107,822.95 wherein the Bank graciously forgave him the sum of N559,374,072.09 which accrued on his account during the period which he abandoned his account.
- To further stall the criminal proceedings against him, Chief Innocent Chukwuma and his company instituted suits at the Federal High Court, Abuja, as well as the Federal High Court, Awka in January 2014 against The Inspector General of Police, The Nigeria Police Force and Investigating Officer(s), seeking declaratory and injunctive reliefs, including orders restraining the Police from commencing criminal proceedings against Innoson and Chief Innocent Chukwuma. Furthermore, in a bid to stall the Bank’s recovery steps, and distract the Bank from focusing on the criminal action, as well as civil actions filed for recovery of the debt, Chief Innocent Chukwuma and his company Innoson have continued to institute various spurious suits before various courts, claiming frivolous and outrageous sums against the Bank.
- In responding to Innoson’s motion for a stay of criminal proceedings at the Court of Appeal, the Honourable Justice J.S Ikyegh on September 17, 2017 dismissed the motion for being unmeritorious and ordered that proceeding in the criminal case against Innoson should proceed.
- On October 12, 2017, the Police through its Charge No. FHC/L/565C/2015- filed an application for the issuance of bench warrant against Innocent Chukwuma; Charles Chukwuma and Annajekwu Sunny for fraudulent clearance of goods, forgery, conversion, stealing and conspiracy presently pending before Faji J, at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi and adjourned to December 8, 2017 for arraignment/or hearing of motion.
The facts having been established, a man who obtains a loan should be ready to pay back. If he brings a proposal, he should be ready to follow the terms and condition to the later. In this case, the bank is NOT the villain.
Lukmon Akintola writes from Lagos state
MUST WATCH VIDEO: How To Safeguard Your ATM Card Details
Watch the video below on how to safeguard your card details at all times courtesy Zenith Bank Plc
Goodbye Debit Cards
Last weekend, I was at the cinema to watch the latest instalment of the Mission Impossible sequel; Fall Out. I had watched it over two months ago, but I had been busy with exams and there are some things in life you only watch on a big screen. The movie had received very good reviews and was still showing at Silverbird Cinemas, Ikeja City Mall and a few other locations.
Ikeja City Mall on a weekend is a great place to hang out with friends and family, but its popularity also leads to overcrowding, which could mean long lines of people waiting to be served. I, however, shrugged off this thought with the consolation that ‘It won’t be that bad’. Little did I know of the wahala ahead. I took an UBER ride from my house to the mall, arriving there 1.59pm, 21 minutes before the movie started. On getting to the cinema floor, I met a large crowd of agitated cinemagoers and frustrated attendants shouting back and forth. I stood there in disbelief. “Which kind line be this one now,” I said to myself. This was 2.03pm and my heart was already racing. I could not miss a second of this movie. I bravely joined the queue, checking my watch every minute. 15 minutes later I heard, Next!!!! ‘Finally,’ I said to myself. I approached the counter and the attendant stared at me and asked ‘Yes, what can i do for you?’ I marvelled at her question, smiled and pointed to the Fallout movie poster behind her. She looked at the poster and responded ‘N2, 500’. ‘Ok,’ I replied as I handed her my card to make payment.
The attendant collected my card and brought out a gigantic POS terminal, ‘Just to collect N2, 500’ I wondered. She tried the POS the first time – TRANS FAILED, she looked at me and tried a second time; TRANS FAILED. ‘Oga, your card is not working’ she said. I searched through my wallet and realized I only had N3,000 cash. Mental calculation… ‘That’s was my UBER ride back home’. Comments were already flying, ‘What is this one doing’, ‘Oga shift don’t waste our time, the movie is about to start o…’.
I looked at the hostile attendant’s face and the agitated crowd behind and reached for the N3,000 in my wallet. Just as I was about to hand them over I saw a ‘MasterPass and mVISA ACCEPTED HERE’ sign and my mind went ‘Scan to Pay’. With my confidence back, I placed my notes back in my wallet and brought out my phone. I looked at the attendant and responded with a smile ‘I will pay with Scan to Pay’. The attendant shifted the sign closer to me and I scanned the QR code.
As I scanned the QR code, I felt prying eyes from the crowd wondering what I was doing and then it happened my receipt came out of the printer. I collected my ticket from the attendant together with a coupon for a free popcorn and drink and walked away from the payment point with the swag of a big boy. As I walked away, a person on the queue stopped me and asked, ‘What was that?’ pointing at the sign. I responded smiling ‘That is the payment option to use. That’s the way to pay’.
So, if you are heading over to the cinema this weekend, just ask the attendant that you want to Scan to Pay and you will be marvelled.
The ASPIRE Account That Made My Aspiration A Reality —– Femi Badmus
2 months ago, I graduated from Lagos State University with a Honours in Accounting; an achievement that was only possible through the overwhelming support of my mother. It still feels like a dream having my Bachelor’s degree and looking back I recall that pivotal moment when everything changed.
I lost my dad in SS 3 and my mum had to struggle to put me through school. She was an uneducated woman who sold pepper at Idumota and whose painstaking efforts had sustained us through those trying times after my dad’s death. The death came as a shock and left us barely surviving. The loss was especially hard for my mum and I feared it might have broken her mentally. Contrary, she became this superwoman whose resolve was to see me succeed at all cost. She worked long hours; in the sun, in the rain and her dedication to make and save money for my university education.
That year, while my SSCE results were very good, my JAMB result was seized and it seemed the university dream was beyond me. I was very depressed but my mum was there to encourage me with words I have never forgotten “You see, sometimes life go push you, push you so te you go wan give up but remember na your choice to either give up or rise up stronger”. I forgave all those bad people at JAMB, took up a job as a waiter and started preparing for the next JAMB exam sitting while also saving for my university tuition.
One year later, JAMB was good, I was accepted to study Accounting at the University of Lagos and needed to pay my acceptance and other fees. I quickly rushed to the bank filled a withdrawal slip and presented it to the teller. Lo and behold, the teller returned the slip and replied that my balance was insufficient for the requested amount. I was stunned. I knew I had saved enough money in my account to cover this withdrawal but the teller insisted I did not have up to N40k and printed a breakdown of my account history to buttress this point. Only then did I realize there were so many bank charges that had been depleting my savings. I was really infuriated as I tried to reconcile my realities: a struggling youth trying to get admission being saddled with ridiculous bank charges. I consoled myself and withdrew the N37,000 left in my account, augmented it with additional funds from my super mum and proceeded to Zenith Bank to make the required payments.
While there I noticed differences from my own bank; the security was very courteous, the banking hall was very well-lit and ventilated with customers being attended to promptly. The teller was very pleasant and I soon found myself telling him how my bank has been chaffing me. He told me the Bank had an account for undergraduates called Aspire and I won’t have that problem if I was using such to manage my funds.
Two weeks later armed with my Admission letter, School ID card and a passport photograph I opened the most beneficial account any undergraduate could have. Throughout my stay in school, I received interests in my savings and it was as though the account was pushing me to spend less and less. This made me a better manager of my funds. I am now a graduate with no indebtedness and looking back, I realize the Aspire account wasn’t just a regular savings account, it was built with me and other millions of students out there in mind.
Thank you Aspire for helping me achieve my dreams.
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