An Akwa-Ibom State High Court has ordered Polaris Bank Plc to pay a customer Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500, 000) only as damage over its failure to reverse a failed Point of Sales (POS) transaction within 72 hours as provided by law.
An Akwa-Ibom based civil servant, Idongesit Nwoko, had dragged the bank before the court pointing out that she made a withdrawal of N61, 000 via a POS machine on 24th December 2020, but was debited without payment.
Despite repeated visits to the bank and other efforts made to have the issue rectified, the plaintiff said her request was not granted until after 28 days.
Dissatisfied with the way she was treated by the bank, Mrs Nwoko through her lawyer, Utibe Nwoko, sued Polaris Bank.
Mrs Nwoko asked the court to compel the bank to refund her N61,000.
She also asked the court to compel the bank to pay her N100 million as damages and N1 million as the cost of her legal action.
Justice Bennett Ilaumo, in her judgment, ordered the bank to pay N500,000 as damages to Mrs Nwoko for failing to reverse the transaction within the 72 hours as provided by relevant law.
However, counsel to Polaris Bank, Anthony Ebuk, said he would appeal the judgment. Mr Ebuk, while insisting that the court cannot amend the pleadings of a party in a suit, argued that the plaintiff, in her prayers, asked the court to order the return of her money, damages for her money that “was lost” and cost of legal action.
He said the plaintiff did not ask for payment of damages for the delayed reversal which the court awarded to her.
He further said that his client returned the said money to the customer’s account within the 16 days allowed by the law for such transactions.
Mr Ebuk said the plaintiff later withdrew the money before approaching the court.
According to Mr Ebuk, the judgment was not based on the pleadings of the party, but on “a total misdirection of fact”.
“The judgment was not the true position of the law. It wasn’t the terms of the agreement. There was no hearing in that matter. Everything was totally against the rule of practice and the law.
“The plaintiff tried to withdraw money with a Polaris Bank Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card, but she did not go to Polaris Bank. She went to another bank’s POS. Going to another bank POS, that bank debited her account from Polaris bank but did not pay her.
“The law is if you come to Polaris Bank with its bank card it should be reversed immediately or within 24 hours, but when it has to do with a third party bank, you have to file an application before the money is reversed to the owner.
“The law allows for 16 days for the money to be reversed from the day the application was filed.
“The woman was debited on 24th December 2021 but she did not notify the bank until after the Christmas holidays about 4th January 2022. From the day she notified the bank we covered the period and returned her money within the 16 days in line with the law,” Mr Ebuk said.
The spokesperson for Polaris Bank, Rasheed Bolarinwa, described the N500,000 damage is disproportionate compared to the N60,000 that was “trapped”.
He said the bank was reviewing the judgment and would take “the necessary legal steps” thereafter.