Justice Candide-Johnson presiding over a Lagos High Court,south west Nigeria,has ordered Stanbic-IBTC bank Plc and CRC Credit Bureau limited to jointly pay the sum of N50 billion as general damages, to one of its customers, Longterm Global Capital Limited, for false, malicious and injurious falsehood publication against it.
Apart from the judgement sum, the judge also ordered the bank and CRC Credit Bureau Ltd who is a joint defendant in the Suit filed by Longterm Global Capital Limited, to publish forthwith and not less than seven days, a retraction and apology to the claimant in the cover pages of Sunday and Monday editions of the Punch, Thisday and Guardian newspapers, in respect of the alleged false indebtedness publication of the claimant to the bank.
Justice Candide-Johnson also directed CRC Credit Bureau Limited, to immediately delete from its electronically published data bank and all other publications, all references to the alleged indebtedness of the bank’s customer to the bank.
The judge further made an order of perpetual injunction restraining Stanbic-IBTC Bank PLC and CRC Credit Bureau Limited, from further publishing any other materials or details relating to the alleged indebtedness of the claimant to the Stanbic-IBTC PLC
Finally, the court also ordered the payment of interest on the above judgement sum at the rate of 10 percent per annum from the date of judgement of the court until date of the final payment by the defendants in line with the provision of Order 35 Rule 4, of High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2012.
The judgement of the court was sequel to a suit filed before the court by the Stock broking firm, Longterm Global Capital seeking a sum of N50 billion damages against Stanbic/IBTC Bank Limited,over an alleged breach of contract agreement, and malicious publication of non existing indebtedness.
The stock brokerage firm in its statement of claim filed before the court against Stanbic/IBTC and CRC Credit Bureau Limited, by its lawyer, Chief Felix O. Fagbohungbe (SAN),alleged thus: that on or about April 2, 2014, pursuant to the banker/customer relationship between it and the bank, it applied to Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, for a term loan of N250 million, the loan was for the purchase of a commercial property at Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, which would have been prime property it would have acquired and developed Into a multi-storey ultra modern apartment complex for sale to various property investors.
The claimant also averred that due to the urgent nature of the purpose of the loan application at the material time, it’s relevant officials made several follow-up visit Union Bank Plc, to inquire about the state of processing of it’s loan application. But to its greatest bewilderment, its officials were verbally informed by Union Bank Plc that credit status check were being conducted at relevant credit bureaus in respect of its loan transaction with other banks in the country, the bank later wrote a letter stating that it will be unable to grant the loan due to unfavorable credit report which was electronically published by the data bank of Credit Beareu Limited who is the second defendant in this suit to the whole world with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s directive.
The claimant further stated that by Union Bank Plc’s letter, it was informed that pursuant to the mandatory requirement of CBN directing that every bank and Financial institutions in the country must obtain credit status reports from at least two credit bureaus before granting any credit facility to their customers, the Union Bank Plc, applied for and obtained it’s credit status from the second defendant and Messrs Credit Registry Plc, as part of the processing it’s loan application.
It further stated in the report sent by Union Bank that it’s credit status with fisrt defendant was tagged ‘clean’, while report from the second defendant was said to be unsatisfactory and it became aware that the Stanbic IBTC bank had reported to the CRC Credit Bereau limited on or about October 31, 2012, that the bank deliberately, fasely and maliciously wrote and published a credit status report through the second defendant concerning it that it has been blacklisted by the StanbicIBTC as a loan defaulter and bad loan borrower who was owing the sum of N543,030.843 million, for 722 days running as at October 31, 2012, and which numbers of days was over and above the maturity date of December 31, 2009.