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19 Oct 2017

Ecobank Dragged to Court over Alleged N31m Contract Scam

Two companies in Lagos State have dragged the leadership of Ecobank to the court of law over a breach of contract worth millions of naira.

A real estate firm, Jetland Properties Limited, has filed a N31m lawsuit against Ecobank Nigeria Limited over alleged breach of contract.

The firm, in the suit before the Lagos State High Court in Igbosere, alleged to have been engaged by the commercial bank to find a buyer for its property located at Plot 7, Block 10, Layi Yusuf Crescent, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

The firm said it entered into an agreement with Ecobank that it would be paid five per cent of the purchase price of the property.

It, however, alleged that after finding a buyer for the property for a price of N525m, the bank reneged on the agreement and refused to pay despite repeated demands.

It claimed that it was the refusal of the bank to honour the alleged agreement that prompted its resort to instructing its lawyer, Mr. Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN), to eventually file the lawsuit.

In a 35-paragraph affidavit deposed to by its Managing Director, Mr. Jude Azekwoh, Jetland Properties Limited claimed that it got the instruction to help Ecobank find a buyer for its said property through its then acting Head of Business Services, Mr. Mohammed Jalal.

Azekwoh said, “That in carrying out the respondent’s instructions, the applicant deployed all its efforts and resources in the search of a buyer for the said property as it is its custom of business as an estate agent and had taken several prospective buyers to the property.

“The first offer of N500,000,000 for the purchase of the said property which the applicant secured was rejected by the respondent.

“That after several months of painstaking efforts and contacts with other real estate firms to find purchasers, the applicant, as expected in its ordinary course of business, got an offer from another real estate firm, Messrs Barin Epega &Co.

“The applicant then introduced the offer of the prospective buyer of the property, Punuka Investment Ltd., to the respondent.”

He added the bank did not reply his letter but rather subsequently gave him a series of instructions towards the perfection of the sale of the property, with the buyer eventually paying N525m with a Value Added Tax of N26m that the bank confirmed on December 15, 2016.

He said despite being paid, the bank refused to pay his company the four per cent agency fee, which should have been N21m, a situation which made him to engage a lawyer for N10m to sue the bank.

Azekwoh, through his firm, is urging the court to compel the bank to pay him N21m as the four per cent agency fee and N10m as the cost of engaging a lawyer.

He wants the N31m to be paid with an annual interest of 35 per cent from August 1, 2017 till the judgment day and 15 per cent thereafter until the final liquidation of the alleged debt.

Besides, he wants N250m as the cost of filing the suit.

Efforts to reach the bank for reaction could not yield any result.

However, the court is yet to fix any date for hearing.

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