It would be recalled that FCMB Ltd and UBA Plc were sued in May, 2016 by Barrister Timothy Tion; customer of FCMB Ltd, over non-dispense of cash when he attempted to withdraw money at the ATM of UBA Plc in February, 2016.

The defendant banks have filed processes in response to the suit by Barrister Tion. Both defendants filed an application for extension of time to enable them file their memoranda of appearance and statements of defence out of time. The 1st defendant (FCMB Ltd) also filed a preliminary objection (P.O.) urging the court to strike off its name from the case as the plaintiff has not disclosed any cause of action against her on the ground that the ATM where the disputed transaction occurred belongs to UBA Plc and not FCMB Ltd. Specifically, the 1st defendant in her P.O. contends:

1.That the transaction that gave rise to this suit took place at the ATM Stand of the 2nd defendant and not the 1st defendant’s as clearly stated in paragraph 5 of the statement of claim.

2. That the 1st defendant has its ATM Stand for the use of its various customers including the plaintiff and the plaintiff wilfully decided to use the 2nd defendant’s ATM.

3. That the report from the 2nd defendant showed that the 2nd defendant’s ATM paid the plaintiff the said N8,000 and the 1stdefendant passed same information to the plaintiff.

4. That there is no paragraph of the statement of claim that disclosed a cause of action against the 1st defendant in this suit. This can be clearly shown from Paragraphs 5 to 46 of the statement of claim particularly paragraphs 30 and 32 of it.

The plaintiff has filed a reply in response to the P.O. filed by 1st defendant and the 1st defendant has also filed a reply on points of lawto the plaintiff’s reply.

Hearing of the applications and the P.O filed will take place on the 27th September, 2016.

This case appears to be a test case with regards to ATM transactions or electronic banking in general in Nigeria as it deals with a novel situation which appears not to have been dealt with in other cases of disputed transactions by the courts in Nigeria.

Whereas, other cases of disputed ATM transactions decided by the courts in Nigeria, namely; UBA Plc v Yahuza (2014) LPELR-23976 (CA), Archibong v First Bank of Nigeria Plc (2014) LPELR-22649(CA), Benjamin Agi v. Access Bank Plc (2014) 7 BNLR 23 CA, Victor Ejeh v UBA Plc (unreported) Suit No MHC/323/2010, judgment delivered on 3rd of February, 2012 by Igoche, J. at the High Court of Justice of Benue State of Nigeria, Barrister Geoffrey Amano v UBA Plc (Suit No PHC/257/2011), judgment delivered on 22nd April, 2013 by Georgewill, J. at the High Court of Justice of Rivers State of Nigeria, and Joseph v Unity Bank Plc (unreported) Suit No MHC/412/2013, judgment delivered on 22nd of December, 2015 by Kakaan, A. at the High Court of Justice of Benue State of Nigeria, involved unauthorized withdrawals which the plaintiff customers only became aware when they attempted to make withdrawals, the case of Barrister Tion and that of Kume Bridget Ashiemar v GTB Plc & UBA Plc, Suit No: MHC/198/14, currently being tried before High Court No. 7 of the High Court of Justice of Benue State, involves non-dispense of cash by the ATM.

In unauthorized withdrawals the customer goes to the bank or ATM to make withdrawals and then learns that certain amount has been debited from his account or he is in possession of his ATM card and suddenly receives debit alerts on his account while in non-dispense of cash, the customer has sufficient funds in his account, attempts to make a withdrawal and the ATM does not dispense cash but his account is debited.

In Barrister Tion’s case the court will also have to decide on the very important issues as to whether there is any law, rule or regulation in Nigeria which prohibits a customer of a particular bank from using the bank’s ATM card to withdraw money or perform ATM transactions at another bank’s ATM and whether if a customer of a bank uses the ATM card issued to him by his bank to withdraw money on the ATM belonging to another bank and the ATM fails to dispense money because of ATM dispense error, yet the customer’s account is debited, which of the banks should be held liable or are both banks to be jointly held liable?

For all the updates involving these two very important and epoch making cases i.e. the case of Barrister Tion and the case of Kume Bridget Ashiermar, keep a date with this blog.


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