Access Bank Plc has been slammed with a N200m lawsuit for allegedly freezing four bank accounts belonging to Image Merchants Promotion Limited and its promoter, Mallam Yushau Shuaib.
Image Merchants Promotion, an Abuja-based media firm, and its promoter are asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to declare unlawful, the the freezing of their accounts by Access Bank.
In the suit with No. FCT/HC/CV/0657/2018, the plaintiffs, who are the publishers of Economic Confidential Magazine and PRNigeria, are claiming the N200m as damages for the hardships inflicted on them by the Bank.
They are also praying for an order of the Court directing the bank to unfreeze their Private, Salary, Operational and Domiciliary Accounts of the Company and its Promoter with Access Bank Plc.
Shuaib says that the inexplicable freezing of his account has kept him struggling to meet up with his responsibilities as the breadwinner of his family thereby putting his four children, wife and aged parents into a state of avoidable hardship.
Image Merchants Promotion also claims that its businesses have suffered the following catastrophic developments: Over 20 employees and volunteers in the payroll resigned their employment because of the inability of the company to access its salary account for the purpose of paying monthly salary; The company has also lost patronage as it can no longer advise clients to pay into the operational accounts knowing fully well no withdrawal could be made to execute the job of its clients.
In addition, the media outfit says that the freezing of its Domiciliary Account prevented its financial obligations to foreign partners, subscriptions to products, services and professional membership fees. It also added that for the first time since inception, the company’s monthly print edition of the Economic Confidential Magazine could not see the light of the day.
Their solicitors had written a letter dated 21st December 2017 and addressed to the Branch Manager, Access Bank Plc, Plot 1244, Samuel Ladoke Akintola Boulevard, Garki 2, Abuja, and received same day, the bank was informed that failure to unfreeze their accounts within seven days will resort to court action as there has been no official explanation by the bank.
The plaintiffs further claimed that since “the absence of their clients from the public service, Mallam Yushau Shuaib has been the alter ego of Image Merchants Promotions Ltd- the publisher of the widely read Economic Confidential Magazine and whose subsidiary is a leading and multi-international award-winning PR firm, PRNigeria.
They claimed that from the record of accounts in question, it was clear that the firm has been carrying out legitimate business of PR consultancy with a vast clientele base especially from the security and financial sectors of the Nigerian economy.
Plaintiffs claimed that they asked for an explanation from their mutual account officer as to the lawful justification upon which their accounts were frozen by the bank and that the response was rather evasive, opaque and vague.
Therefore, the Plaintiffs applied for an order of the Court in directing the defendant to unfreeze the four accounts and also sought for an order of the Court in awarding the sum of N200m only being general and exemplary damages against the bank for unlawful freezing of their account and breach of duty of care owed to them by the bank.
In addition, the plaintiffs demanded another sum of N1m against the bank being the cost of the suit. They also sought payment of 10% of the judgment sum from the date of delivery of judgment until the entire sum is liquidated. No date has yet been fixed for the hearing.