By Sunday Ani
Fifty-two-year-old Igbegbe Ifoghale, who hails from Delta State, is an angry man. The businessman is angry with Diamond Bank because his decision to take the bank’s Invoice Discounting Facility (IDF) has backfired. He said it was his greatest business miscalculation, which almost crippled his once flourishing meat business. That singular decision pitted him against the bank in a fierce legal battle that lasted for over seven years. While the case lasted, Ifoghale just existed as, according to him, his business crumbled..
Although he was not particularly happy with the court’s verdict, which ordered that the bank should pay him the sum of N11.241 million, he alleged that he did not know that the bank was not even willing to obey the court order. His annoyance is aggravated by the fact that when the bank finally resolved to pay the judgment sum, instead of transferring the money to his account, the bank gave him two drafts of N10 million and N1.241 million respectively, both of which were not honoured. He wrote to the bank through his lawyer about the development and to inform the bank that he would represent the drafts the second time for payment. He represented the drafts for the second time and the same thing happened but this time, there was an instruction at the back of both drafts that he had been paid.
How IDF works
Explaining how IDF works, Ifoghale, who started the business with Lion Bank before it was acquired by Diamond Bank, said: “It simply means that I will use my personal cash to sponsor a business 100 per cent and the bank will give me 70 per cent of the cash while they wait for my customers to pay, so that with that 70 per cent, I would still be able to do another business. The transaction sum was N10 million, meaning that the bank would give me N7million leaving N3million. Once I collect the remaining amount from my customers that have been supplied already, the bank would take the N7million, which is their money, and out of the remaining N3million, they would take their interest, while the rest came to me as my profit.”
According to Ifoghale, the Diamond Bank branch he was dealing with then was located at 62, Opebi Road, Ikeja and he did his best to ensure that he made something tangible out of the venture. However, that did not happen because each time he went to the bank, he would be told there was no money and he would just leave the cheques he had already written and signed with the bank manager and accounts officer.
Considering the volume of business he was doing, he became suspicious with the excuses of no money from the account officer. He said the situation continued until he found out that his account was being manipulated. He later went to court when he felt the bank was not treating the matter with the seriousness it deserved.
“I went to court in 2007 and got judgment in my favour on December 21, 2015. The court ruled that my account was massively manipulated and defrauded, so, I got judgment to the sum of N11 million and some fractions,” he said.
Stay of execution motion
“When I went for the money, the bank brought a motion for the stay of execution but it was struck out by the court and I was awarded N50, 000. We went for the execution of the judgment and the bank issued drafts to me instead of transferring it to my account. When I lodged in the drafts on January 29, 2016, at the Marina branch of Skye Bank, my account was credited but on February 1, the transaction was reversed. My lawyer wrote to the banks’ management about the incident and informed them that we would represent the drafts. On February 11, we represented the drafts at the Satellite Town branch of Skye Bank. I got a credit alert but again it was reversed on February 12, on the ground that the drafts were not accepted, but this time, there was an instruction at the back of the two drafts that I have been paid,” he narrated.
Ifoghale is feeling terribly bad for so many reasons. First, he expected about N200 million but got N11million. He is also not happy that the account officer, who should be behind bars, is today a branch manager of another bank in Lagos.
Commenting on the matter, his legal counsel, Mrs Ogbe Ogbodu Ogbe corroborated all that was said by her client.
Diamond Bank reacts
When contacted on the phone, the Head of Media, Diamond Bank, Mr Mike Omife debunked allegation that the drafts bounced and explained why they were not honoured. He said: “What happened was that the court said we should pay Ifoghale that amount because there was a transaction he actually did with our bank. He took some facilities from the bank and now he won the case. But our bank appealed. The normal procedure is that if you are paying somebody on the orders of a court like that, you are supposed to issue the cheque to the court to pay him the money, but the man refused and insisted that he must receive the cheque in his name. Now, the bank wrote the cheque in his name, but our lawyer said that was not the process. He said that when a court orders a complainant to be paid, it is through the court that you pay the complainant. So, instead of writing the cheque in his name, it was supposed to be written in the name of the court, so that the court will now pay him directly. Our lawyers advised that since we have appealed against the case, Ifoghale should collect the money through the court.
“So, what our lawyers did was to write Ifoghale’s bank that the case is in court and that we have appealed but the cheque has been issued, and that ordinarily, the cheque was supposed to be issued through the court. It is not even a cheque but a draft. So, our lawyers are saying that since the case is already in court, the banks should be aware that the case is already in court and that is why the banks were not paying him. So, they wanted to get instructions from the court to pay him. It is not that the drafts bounced. A draft does not bounce; it is not possible.”
Mile 12 market leaders deny involvement in crisis
…Appeal to Ambode to reopen market
By Kehinde Aderemi
Leaders of the Arewa Perishable Foodstuff Market Association, Mile 12 Market, Lagos have dissociated themselves from the crisis that engulfed the Agiliti/ Mile12 Maidan Orile Community last week. They are appealing to the Lagos state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode to reopen the market for business.
Chairman of the association, Alhaji Haruna Muhammed, lamented that since the closure of the market, the traders have been losing over N300 million daily due to the perishable products that get rotten everyday.
He expressed regrets over the unfortunate incidents that led to the crisis.
Many people were killed during the crisis just as a number of buildings, including residential and business houses as well as churches and schools were razed. Muhammed said it was necessary to speak with the press to enable Nigerians to know the truth about the fracas.
“In view of the misinformation that Mile 12 marketers were involved in the crisis, we want to state it clearly that marketers were not involved in the crisis. As much as we express our appreciation to the governor for his proactive steps to temporarily close the market, we believed this measure was to prevent hoodlums from breaking into the market and further escalate the fracas. However, we want to make it clear that Mile 12 marketers were not involved in the crisis as speculated by the media,” he stated.
Giving an insight into the cause of the crisis, Muhammed said the controversy, which started ordinarily as an argument between an okada rider and a passenger two kilometres away from the main market, later degenerated into a tribal clash that eventually claimed peoples’ lives, leaving many houses razed. He added also that even before the incident, the leadership of the Arewa Perishable Foodstuff Market Association, alongside other stakeholders in the market, had written a letter to the state government complaining about the sharp increase of okada riders in the area as well as their disobedience to the laws of the state.
He said: “We are law-abiding people. The market is being managed by responsible leaders of different ethnic and religious interests who have been living together peacefully for years without any crisis. However, we support any measures taken by the state government to ensure security of lives and property.
“As stakeholders, we have invested so much in the community. We built houses here, have our families here and we have all our businesses here. Therefore, we are pleading with our brothers and sisters in this community to embrace peaceful co-existence. That is the only recipe for economic and social development in this community.”
General Secretary of the Association, Malam Sheu Usman said all the stakeholders, including marketers, buyers and sellers of perishable products like tomatoes, onions and others are already counting their losses in millions. He regretted that the development had already affected the prices of the products across the states.
“The closure of the market has made life difficult for all the stakeholders as well as the people from every parts of the state who come to Mile 12 daily to buy foodstuffs. We are in the peak period. Our produce in the market as at the time of the closure perished, those on the road get rotten and there are trucks loaded with perishable items that could not enter the market,” he said.
Alhaja Iyabode Hammed, Iyaloja General of Mile 12 Market and Ikosi Isheri Local Council Development Area, was worried by the suggestion by the Lagos State House of Assembly that the Mile 12 Market might be relocated. She said rather than relocating the marketers to another area, the best measure would be to ensure peace and harmony among residents, the community leaders and all stakeholders. She appealed to the state government to temper justice with mercy. “We are begging Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to reopen the market for normal businesses to resume,” she said.
Adeagbo Ajayi, one of the residents one spoke with the reporter, lamented that the closure of the market was having adverse effects on the people across the state. “We can all feel the negative effect of this closure. I’m appealing to the Lagos State government and all the stakeholders, including Maidan/ Agiliti Community leaders, to embrace peace,” he said.
Other members of the association present at the briefing included Alhaji Mohammed Dandama-Yabo, Chairman, Shukurah Yam Association, Yeye Dupe, Yisa Muhammed, Collins Obichukwu, Muhammed Abdul, Mukaila Jaiyeola and others.
Normalcy has since been restored in the area. Policemen were seen at the Agiliiti/ Maidan road ensuring security and peaceful movements of commuters and motorists in the area.