A customer of the Access Bank Plc, Isaac Dare, has accused the bank of breach of the duty of care to him by losing the Certificate of Occupancy for his property located in Oshodi/Isolo, Lagos State.

In his suit filed against the bank at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Dare described the loss of the document by the bank as “reprehensible” and “unpardonable”.

He claimed a total of N112m against the bank.

He said in his suit that he deposited the original copy of the Certificate of Occupancy with the bank on October 24, 2013, preparatory to using the property, which he said was valued at about N123.758m as of October 2009, as collateral for a loan he sought to obtain from the bank.

He claimed that the bank was to conduct legal search on the property at the Lands Registry of Lagos State and return it to him after the exercise.
He, however, alleged that the bank had been evasive on the status of the tittle document since the time it was deposited with the bank.

His statement of claim filed on behalf of his lawyer, Mr E. A. Adedeji, read in part, “The claimant avers that the defendant was to discuss the terms and condition of the loan with him after conducting the legal search.
“The claimant avers that the defendant became evasive on the status of his Certificate of Occupancy over No. 7A&B, Oronna Street, off Owoseni Street, Oshodi/Isolo, Local Government Area, Lagos State, since he deposited it with the defendant.”
He said he orally demanded his document from the bank all to no avail.

He added that he wrote a letter dated July 12, 2017, to the bank requesting his Certificate of Return but that the bank did not respond “until he engaged the service of his lawyer who wrote the defendant (the bank) on his behalf.”
He stated that he could no longer obtain another original Certificate of Occupancy “which implied that he could no longer use the property as collateral for loan as banks only accept Certificate of Occupancy as collateral for loan.”
He prayed for N100m as “general damages” against the bank for “breach of duty of care” to him and “the irreparable loss” he suffered as a result of the alleged breach.
He also asked for N10m as “exemplary damages” for “its reprehensible conduct,” and N2m as the cost of prosecuting the suit.
He also urged the court to order the bank “to make publication in two reputable national dailies” stating that the Certificate of Occupancy” numbered, 11/11/2013, was lost in its custody.

In its statement of defence, the bank, through its lawyer, Mr Onwuchekwa Onwuchekwa, admitted that the document got lost in its custody “due to remodeling works” that affected its “filing system.”
Describing the suit as frivolous and gold digging, however, the bank stated that it had offered him the Certified True Copy of the document which it claimed “is as good as” the original copy, but the claimant rejected it.

Culled from Punch.

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