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Jim Ovia’s Zenith Bank accused of breach of trust

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Jim-Ovia’s Zenith Bank Plc, one of the leading commercial banks in Nigeria has been identified as a high risk financial institution which general public must be wary of.

This was according a Lagos judge, Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court, sitting in Ikeja, said this while delivering a judgement in case brought before it between the bank as first defendant, State Universal Basic Education as second defendant and Real Integrated And Hospitality Ltd as the claimant.

According to the case, the claimant approached the court and accused the bank of breach of contract, inability to access its account number 1012465427 domiciled with latter and prayed the court cause the bank to pay interests on over N8million naira, the fund the bank refused it access to since 2011.

Not only that, the claimant is also demanding interest of 10% on judgement sum till when the case is finally liquidated and with a cost of N5million naira as cost of action.

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Though the counsel to the bank initially denied knowledge of the business transaction between his client and the claimant, the presiding judge insisted that the bank carried itself in a fraudulent manner by ensuring it benefited from holding onto the sum of N872,780,552.84 in its custody without paying interest since 2011.

“The first defendant has been the beneficiary of the malevolent game of chess it plunged both claimant and the 2nd defendant into, holding the sum of N872,780,552.84 in its custody without paying interest thereon from 17th February 2011 until 2nd February 2016 when the Court ordered that the money be paid into an interest yielding account in the names of the claimant and the 2nd defendant pending determination of the suit, which order was curiously varied by the consent of all the parties on 20th September 2016 so that the money remained in the 1st defendant’s custody without interest,” she said.

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While granting the four reliefs sought by the claimant, Justice Abike-Fadipe also chided Zenith Bank and its management over what she referred to as unreasonable and deliberate act against the interest of the claimant and the bank’s customers in general.

“The act of the first defendant (Zenith Bank) was unconscionable and detrimental to the goodwill of the claimant and its trade credit with its customers. It was a deliberate and malicious act against the interest of the claimant and the first defendant continues to enjoy the largesse in bad faith,” she said.

The judge also accused the bank of deliberate and nonchalance to the needs of its customer as a banking institution.

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“Exhibits C4 and C5 clearly state that the funds to be transferred were to offset part of the claimant’s indebtedness for the importation of dictionaries, but the first defendant was impervious to this need. I therefore find and hold that the claimant is entitled to substantial damages against the first defendant for the injury caused to it.”

Having established that the bank is liable, the court then ruled in the favour of claimant that Zenith Bank breached contract of agreement signed between it and its customer by depriving the claimant access to its fund.

“The reliefs are that the 1st defendant (Zenith) was in breach of contract when on 7th October, 2011 it refused the claimant to draw from its account No. 1012465427 despite the fact that the said account was in enough credit to cover the withdrawals sought to be made on the said date.

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“First defendant is also restrained from disturbing or refusing the claimant from operating its account No. 1012465427 in the first defendant’s bank or from honouring the claimant’s transfer or payment obligations to third parties from the said account as long as same is in credit,” the judge ruled.

Real Integrated And Hospitality Ltd was also granted an interest of 15% per annum on the sum of N872,780,552.84 from 7th October 2011 when the Zenith Bank denied the claimant access to the funds in its account which was in credit at that date till judgment.

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Chinese chamber denies barring Nigerian shoppers from Abuja supermarket

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The China General Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria has given insight into the operation of a Chinese supermarket within the premises of the Royal Choice Estate, Airport Road, Abuja.

Theheute reports that the Abuja-based Chinese supermarket had come under criticism for refusing to allow Nigerians to shop in its facility.

The supermarket situated at the China General Chamber of Commerce, along Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Road in Abuja, is acclaimed as a destination for Chinese cuisine and beverages.

Nigerians had expressed outrage over a discriminatory policy implemented by the Chinese Supermarket, which restricted entry exclusively to its citizens and barred Nigerians.

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But After Theheute reports, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission sealed the supermarket.

The FCCPC officials shut the supermarket when they stormed the premises on Monday. The commission’s officials sealed up the place after interrogating Nigerian workers at the supermarket.

But reacting to the alleged discrimination in a statement by its Secretary, Mr. Cui Guangzheng, the China Chamber of Commerce explained that the estate housing both the supermarket and the commerce building was not entirely a supermarket.

He clarified that the Royal Choice Estate comprises an office complex and residential apartments.

According to the statement, the residential area of the estate consists of private residents who adhere to security protocols in granting access to external visitors.

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“The China Chamber of Commerce is one of several enterprises using the facility, and the supermarket in question is located in the residential area of the estate, which is unrelated to the China Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria,” the statement read.

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It added, “No individual was subjected to discrimination or denied access to the estate or supermarket to purchase groceries as widely believed.

“The China General Chamber of Commerce emphasized its commitment to equality and inclusiveness and welcomed first-hand visits to witness the truth.

“Our principles are to enhance friendship between the people of both countries and promote economic development.”

The chamber expressed regret over the altercation at the estate’s entrance gate between the security personnel and a customer, emphasizing that it does not reflect the official position of the estate management or the chamber of commerce.

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FG to execute $3.8bn gas supply agreement in May

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The Gas Supply and Purchase Agreement to support the Final Investment Decision for the $3.8bn Brass methanol project is to be executed in May 2024, the Federal Government announced on Monday.

The Brass methanol project is a major industrial project being built in Bayelsa State to produce methanol, a key industrial chemical, using natural gas resources. Nigeria currently imports all its methanol.

Located in Brass Island, Bayelsa, the facility is to have a capacity of 10,000 tonnes of methanol per day when completed, as it is still under construction and expected to be operational this year.

The $3.8bn is to create up to 15,000 jobs during construction and aims to boost the Nigerian economy by reducing reliance on imports.

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This project is a joint venture between DSV Engineering Limited, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, and the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board.

The Minister of State Petroleum Resources (Gas), Ekperikpe Ekpo, announced the execution date for the gas supply agreement in Abuja on Wednesday after a meeting with key stakeholders of the project in his office.

Ekpo, in a statement issued by his media aide, Louis Ibah, said the meeting was to confirm adequate gas supply to the Brass methanol project by the NNPC/Shell/TotalEnergies/NAOC Joint Venture.

He said the meeting was to also determine the next steps to conclude and execute the GSPA and mature the phase-2 of gas supply to the project.

Present at the meeting were the Head of Joint Venture, Investment Management, NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services, Mr Olanrewaju Igandan; and Deputy Managing Director, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, Mr Richard Orianzi.

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Others include the Managing Director, Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria, Mr Osagie Okunbor; Managing Director of Brass Fertiliser and Petrochemical Ltd, Mr Ben Okoye, among others.

Ekpo informed the gathering of President Bola Tinubu’s strong interest in resolving issues relating to gas supply to the Brass methanol project.

According to the Minister, the President was passionate about the speedy kick-off of the project so that it could bring in the much needed Foreign Direct Iinvestment with attendant economic benefits to the country.

“Mr President is very passionate about this project and wants something positive to happen in respect of the Brass methanol project before the end of May this year,” Ekpo said.

The Brass methanol project is sponsored by Brass Fertiliser & Petrochemical Company Limited and it is made up of a gas processing plant, a methanol production and refining plant, product export facilities, among others.

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At the end of the meeting, Ekpo announced he had successfully resolved the GSPA issue and that it would be executed by May this year.

“The NNPC/SPDC JV partners are now fully committed to uninterrupted gas supply for the development of the Brass methanol project,” the gas minister stated.

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Naira continues recovery, gains 7.2% against dollar

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The exchange rate of Nigeria’s currency, the Naira has continued to appreciate to the dollar in response to the fiscal and monetary policies of President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

According to data from the official trading platform of the FMDQ Exchange, a platform that oversees the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM), on Friday revealed that the Naira gained N88.23.

This represents a 7.16 per cent gain when compared to the previous trading date on Monday, April 8, exchanging at N1,230.61 to a dollar before the Sallah holiday.

The huge appreciation resulted in the Naira trading at N1,142.38 to the dollar at the official market

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The total daily turnover increased to $281.34 million on Friday up from $125.55 million recorded on Monday.

Meanwhile, at the Investor’s and Exporter’s (I&E) window, the Naira traded between N1,265 and N1,100 against the dollar.

Experts attribute the steady Naira appreciation to the policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

The CBN, during its policy meetings held in February and March, implemented a total of 600 basis points in interest rate increases.

This helped tackle dollar scarcity, reduced volatility, and decreased reliance on parallel markets.

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