Landmark Verdict: UBA Faces N6 Million Compensation for Unauthorized Account Closure. Mr. Azuka Onwuka’s Legal Triumph Highlights Customer Rights and Data Privacy.
In a ground-breaking legal development, Mr. Azuka Onwuka has won a case against the renowned United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc.
Grave bank accusations span unauthorized account closures to illicit new account creation.
Highlights of the Case:
- UBA Plc wrongfully closed Mr. Onwuka’s account without appropriate legal sanctions.
- The bank is accused of creating a new account without Mr. Onwuka’s consent in a bid to hide their malpractices.
- A Federal High Court in Lagos found UBA Plc guilty, leading to a N6 million compensation for the wronged customer.
Delving into the Details:
Justice Yelim Bogoro, overseeing the lawsuit denoted as FHC/L/CS/317/2023, delivered the judgment on July 10, 2023.
Legal Grounds and Claims:
Mr. Onwuka’s legal representation revolved around several constitutional and human rights arguments:
Violation of Data Privacy: The bank’s unilateral action of opening an account, notably ‘1003284792’, without Mr. Onwuka’s knowledge, infringes upon his right to data privacy, as enshrined in Section 37 of the Nigerian Constitution.
Right to Fair Hearing and Property: The bank’s misuse of its authority to establish a secondary current account, leading to forceful debiting from Mr. Onwuka, stands against the right to fair hearing and property.
This is protected by Sections 36 and 44(1) of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Further demands included:
UBA Plc to pay N100 million as both general and exemplary damages.
Compensation of N5 million for the legal expenses.
An unconditional written apology from UBA Plc.
Chronology of Events:
Mr. Onwuka’s relationship with UBA Plc began in December 2003, with his primary account number being 1003293912.
This account was linked to his mobile, facilitating electronic transaction notifications.
The trouble began when Mr. Onwuka identified an unfamiliar account (account number 1003284792) while negotiating with an overseas firm.
UBA Plc claimed this account belonged to Mr. Onwuka, even though he neither sanctioned nor was aware of its creation.
Convinced that UBA Plc had misused his personal data, Mr. Onwuka eventually paid the unwarranted debt to progress past this deadlock.
This action, unfortunately, led to the cancellation of his prospective deal with the foreign entity.
When Mr. Onwuka’s legal team sought redress, UBA Plc remained largely non-responsive.
Interestingly, the bank later credited Mr. Onwuka’s account with N51,818.32 without further details.
Given UBA Plc’s failure to respond within the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules, the court took over the case.
Even though the bank received the necessary documents two weeks before the hearing, it failed to provide a counter affidavit.
Justice Bogoro, assessing the case based on the merits, found UBA Plc guilty.
The judge underscored the infringement on Mr. Onwuka’s data privacy and property rights as laid down in the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Bogoro decreed the following:
UBA Plc’s creation of account number 1003284792 without Mr. Onwuka’s knowledge was a violation of his right to data privacy.
The unauthorized account and the subsequent forced debits were a breach of Mr. Onwuka’s constitutional rights.
UBA Plc was mandated to compensate Mr. Onwuka with N6 million.
UBA Plc is to provide an unreserved apology in writing for the emotional turmoil caused.
The sanctity of a customer’s rights, privacy, and data cannot be compromised.
Institutions must embody top ethics for trust in their operations.
This verdict underscores transparency, accountability, and individual rights’ respect in modern banking.
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