Court orders Access Bank to remove ex-employee from debtors list

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Court orders Access Bank to remove ex-employee from debtors list

The National Industrial Court in Abuja has ordered Access Bank Plc to remove a former employee, Sarah Longe, from its list of debtors. The order as directed by Justice Polycarp Hamman also stated that the claimant’s name should be withdrawn as debtor in the Credit Bureau Department within 30 days. The court further declared the listing and subsequent sending of Longe’s details to the Credit Bureau Department as a debtor, as unlawful and unjustifiable. Hamman delivering the judgment held that the claimant was not indebted in any way to Access Bank, neither during her employment from 2014 to 2016 nor after the termination of her employment. The court in addition awarded the sum of N2 million as general damages in favour of the claimant.

From facts, the claimant had submitted that her employment as a  Banking Executive Trainee, was abruptly terminated for no reason by the defunct Diamond Bank in 2016 before it was acquired by Access Bank. She averred that she subsequently received debit alerts stating that she was indebted to the bank in the sum of N203,639 which accrued from unearned rent among others. She further submitted that she was denied another employment because of the bad credit report authored and written by the defendant which was sent to all the financial institutions in Nigeria. Longe also said that she lost several opportunities in her career advancement due to the embargo placed on her person and profile by the defendant. In defence, the defendant averred that since the allegations of the claimant occurred before they acquired Diamond Bank, the suit had commenced four years after the claimant was disengaged.

The defendant also argued there was no reasonable cause of action against its GMD, whom the claimant joined as a defendant in the suit. The bank further averred that the alleged bad credit report to the Credit Bureau Department cannot in law bar the claimant from future employment in a financial institution. The defendant in closing its case urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety as the claimant was not entitled to any of the claims in the suit. In reply, the claimant maintained that the defendant was responsible and liable for the trauma and financial difficulties she suffered by virtue of the credit report it authored. The claimant also said that the instant suit disclosed a reasonable cause of action against the GMD. She, therefore, urged the court to grant the reliefs she sought. The court on its part after evaluating the submissions of both parties dismissed the defendant’s objection about its jurisdiction and affirmed the jurisdiction of the court.

The court also held that the suit failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action against the GMD of the bank. The court held that the claimant having utilised the allowances paid to her upfront before the termination of her appointment in May 2016, was not indebted to the bank. The court further stressed that the bank had failed to show the court whether, by law, practice in the banking sector or even the agreement between the parties allowances paid upfront to employees at the beginning of the year are to be refunded if the employee’s appointment is terminated within the same year. The court, however, stated that the claimant’s claim for loss of earning and career advancement, was unproved and the same was refused by the court.

Court orders Access Bank to remove ex-employee from debtors list

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