By Aduragbemi Omiyale
First Bank of Nigeria Limited has been directed to pay the benefits of one of its deceased staff, Mrs Chika Chukwu, within 30 days, Business Post reports.
This directive was given by Justice Faustina Kola-Olalere of the Port Harcourt division of the National Industrial Court.
The court further orders the financial institution to write a sympathy letter to the husband of the late employee, Mr Ori Chukwu, which must be signed by its Managing Director.
Ruling on the matter, the judge said the lender must pay Mr Chukwu, who is now the administrator of the estate of Mrs Chukwu, N963,504.68 as benefits in addition to N250,000 as the cost of action.
Mr Chukwu had approached the court to compel First Bank to pay him the sum of N4 million as compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, but the judge disagreed with him.
According to the deceased’s husband, First Bank only paid a one-year basic salary of his last wife, who prior to her demise in 2006, was an employee of the bank, to assist the family with burial expenses and has failed to pay the other entitlements despite repeated demands.
But First Bank, through its counsel, Mr Rotimi Aremu, maintained that it had paid the amount of money payable to the family of its late staff upon her death; and averred that the bank insurer for the death of the deceased employee was paid less of the deceased indebted to the bank.
The lender argued that the action of Mr Chukwu was statute-barred and liable to be dismissed on the ground that the action was filed over five years provided under the Limitation Law of Rivers State.
It also informed the court that the claimant had failed to show his right to demand, neither as the husband of the deceased nor as a dependant of the deceased.
The bank stressed that the Letter of Administration issued in Mr Chukwu favour was just a letter of authority to an administrator, not evidence of a marriage between him and the deceased.
According to First Bank, it was not a necessary party to the suit, as the compensation due (if any) to the claimant was to be borne by the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Management Board and urged the court to dismiss the claim in its entirety.
This argument was countered by Mr Chukwu through his counsel, J. U. Ikorogbudu, explaining that a dependent was someone who relies wholly or partly on the income of the deceased employee.
He denied that the deceased was indebted to the defendant, urging the court to assume jurisdiction and grant the reliefs sought.
Justice Kola-Olalere, while delivering the judgment after careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, dismissed the objections and held that from May 11, 2009, when the case in question was filed in Rivers State High Court to September 23, 2016, when it was struck out for lack of jurisdiction, the limitation period stopped running and then continued running again from September 24, 2016, to August 18, 2017, when the action was filed at the NIC.
The judge held that the deceased was not indebted to the bank before she died as no document was shown to prove to the contrary
“The defendant has admitted receipt of the sum of N963,504.68 from its insurer for the death of the deceased employee; therefore, I hold that the defendant is to pay to the claimant, the admitted sum of N963,504.68 as the deceased/employee’s death in service benefit in line with the provision of clause 5.8.3 (d) of Exhibit C.5 before the court in this case.”
Polaris Bank in Safe Hands, No Need to Panic—Management
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The management of Polaris Bank Limited has urged its customers and members of the public not to panic over reports that the financial institution has been sold to a new investor, Mr Auwal Gombe, in the sum of N40 billion.
It was recently reported that efforts are being made to hand over the lender to the businessman, who is said to be an ally of former military president, Mr Ibrahim Babangida, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationalised the defunct Skye Bank Plc into Polaris Bank in 2018.
In a statement issued on Friday in Lagos, the bank described the report of the purported sale as not only “speculative” but done to deliberately “create panic” among its customers and the banking community.
The company said the CBN established it and injected funds for its operations, it has bounced back to profitability, with a solid balance sheet, saying there is no cause for alarm as the bank was in safe hands.
“Stakeholders may recall the regulatory intervention in the erstwhile Skye Bank by the CBN and the subsequent injection of capital via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a bridge bank process, which birthed Polaris Bank in 2018.
“The bank has since stabilised its operations following the intervention; improving its balance sheet, customer base and profitability,” a part of the notice today said.
Continuing, Polaris Bank noted that, “Whilst the intention has always been to return the bank to private ownership, such a sale would occur following regulatory approvals with formal notification to all relevant stakeholders,” expressing its commitment to “ensuring timely communication to the public in such an event.”
“The board and management hereby reassure its customers, staff and the general public that Polaris Bank remains a stable, strong and credible financial institution, positioned to deliver sustainable value to all its stakeholders,” the statement concluded.
Wema Bank Refutes Dud Cheque, Forgery Allegations
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The management of Wema Bank Plc has rubbished an allegation that it issued a dud cheque in connection with a garnishee proceeding for the payment of a judgement debt on behalf of the Bayelsa State Government.
A legal practitioner, Mr George Haliday, had accused the financial institution of issuing dud cheques but in a statement issued on Wednesday, the lender explained that the cheques have only not been cleared for payment because of the subsisting appeal at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on the garnishee proceeding which has now been decided in its favour.
According to the statement, the lawyer only ran to the Magistrate Court in Abuja to lodge a complaint about the issuance of dud cheques after he lost his case at the appellate court.
“It is very worthy of note that the judgement debt against Bayelsa State Government, which Barrister George Haliday attempted to enforce by a garnishee proceeding, thereby leading to the issuance of the cheques in question had been settled by Bayelsa State Government via a Terms of Settlement between Barrister George Haliday and the Bayelsa State Government at the Supreme Court,” a part of the statement.
Recently, there were reports that the Managing Director/CEO of Wema Bank, Mr Ademola Adebise, was issued an arrest warrant, but the bank dismissed this, saying its leader was not given a fair hearing in the matter.
“Wema Bank wishes to state that the warrant for the arrest of Mr Ademola Adebise is in violation of his fundamental rights to fair hearing as he was never personally served with any process to appear before the magistrate court nor was he represented in court.
“We are a law-abiding corporate citizen; if there was any court summons properly served on the Managing Director for his appearance in court, he would have done so without fail.
“But in this case, there was no such service extended to him or any court processes personally served on him to appear in court until a warrant of arrest was issued in absentia. We view the arrest warrant as being an infringement on his fundamental rights,” the statement said.
Concluding, the lender emphatically refuted and dismissed “in their entirety, the allegations of dud cheque and forgery levelled against our bank and the Managing Director. We also dismiss the inappropriate issuance of a bench warrant on our Managing Director.
“We are already engaging in legitimate actions to seek redress and bring all the perpetrators of these unprofessional conducts and heinous criminal acts against our Managing Director and the bank to book.”
Advans Nigeria Becomes Most Innovative Microfinance Bank
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
More big feathers have been added to the colourful cap of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, cementing its leadership position in the small lending business in Nigeria.
Recently, in recognition of its customer-centric credentials and innovation in product development, service delivery and brand management, the financial institution was named the Best Microfinance Bank in Nigeria at the Financial Derivatives Awards 2022.
Also, the company emerged as the Most Innovative Microfinance Bank in Nigeria in the Global Brands Magazine and World Economic Magazine Awards 2022.
The Managing Director/CEO of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Gaetan Debuchy, while reacting to the accolades bestowed on the firm, dedicated the awards to the working management and staff of the bank, promising that the bank would continue to break boundaries.
“We are excited to win these awards. It further validates our innovative approach to providing customer-centric, affordable and transparent financial services,” Mr Debuchy said.
Also, the Head of Marketing and Communication at Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Kayode Abraham, stated that, “Over the years, we have centred our business on customer needs and feedback, which has helped us develop financial solutions from scratch to completion. We are pleased to be recognised as the most innovative and best microfinance bank in Nigeria.”
Earlier in the year, Advans Nigeria upgraded its mobile banking app ‘Adspire’ to include users’ ability to request bank statements and control their daily transaction limit. Through the app, clients can receive notifications and share by referring their friends and loved ones.
The bank recently introduced a micro-health insurance product and an education loan to facilitate financial inclusion.
The health insurance product was designed to ensure existing and prospective clients have access to high-quality and affordable health care services, while the education loan was designed to provide working and investment capital for school owners and to assist parents in paying their children’s school fees with ease.
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