By Uthman Salami
An account holder with the Keystone Bank, Bala Ibrahim, has been finding it difficult to meet his financial needs after an erstwhile manager of a branch of the bank in the Agege area of Lagos State, Tijani Saleh, allegedly made an unauthorised withdrawal of N5.9m from his corporate account.
Ibrahim, while speaking with our correspondent, said efforts to get the bank to refund his money proved abortive.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Ibrahim opened a corporate account with the bank and funded the account with N20m.
Shortly after funding the account, Ibrahim said he was in need of N5.9m to fund some of the projects his company was doing but had yet to be given a cheque to withdraw money from the corporate account.
In a bid to get the money withdrawn, Ibrahim said he approached the bank manager to advise him on the options to explore to enable him to withdraw the money, adding that the manager demanded the letter-headed paper of his company to process the request.
The businessman, however, said things took another dimension when without his consent, the bank manager allegedly used the letter-headed paper to make an unauthorised withdrawal of N5.9m from his corporate account.
Upon discovering that the money had been withdrawn when he requested his statement of account, Ibrahim said he raised the alarm and the bank, after getting wind of the manager’s action, sacked him.
He, however, noted that the bank had yet to refund his money despite knowing that the erstwhile manager was responsible for the unauthorised withdrawal.
Ibrahim said, “I opened a N20m corporate account with the Keystone Bank. But when I needed some money to facilitate some projects in my company, I approached the bank manager. He told me to send the letter-headed paper of my company and I did.
“It was later on I realised he used the letter-headed paper to withdraw N5.9m from my account without my consent. The bank got wind of his action and sacked him. Since then I started begging them to return my money, but they refused.
“I then reported the matter to the EFCC but the matter was turned against me and I was charged to court. We spent over five years on the case before I was finally discharged and acquitted.”
Ibrahim said after the case was concluded, the EFCC failed to charge the bank to court or compel them to pay him the money.
“They accused me of withdrawing the money and yet claimed for a reversal. I wrote several letters to make them reverse the money. They have refused. I wrote the EFCC to charge them to court as they did to me but they refused. All I want is my money back,” he said.
Reacting, the spokesperson for Keystone Bank Plc, Edward Ettu, in an email sent to our correspondent, said a forensic report showed that Ibrahim withdrew the money through a counter cheque.
Ettu partly stated, “When the matter was reported to the police, they went further to investigate the N20m lodged into the account of the customer. The customer refused to allow his fingerprints, amongst others, to be taken but eventually, a forensic report showed that he was the one that withdrew the money through a counter cheque because his chequebook was not ready.
“That judgment neither said he had money with the bank nor that the bank debited his account legally. That did not come up in court at all. The same man that is asking about N5.9m filed a suit against the FG, EFCC, and the bank claiming damages to the tune of over N2 bn but did not make any claim of N5.9m against the bank.
“Up till now, there is no suit against the bank on N5.9m. Our record shows that he was the one that withdrew the money and the forensic examination conducted on his writing and signature proved that. It is not true that the bank debited his account illegally and no court order said so.”
Calls and text messages sent to the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, for a comment on the matter were yet to be responded to as of the time this report was filed.