The Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT) sitting in Abuja on Thursday, July 13, 2023, has fined Stanbic IBTC Bank the sum of 120 million Naira for contravening Section 130 (1) (a) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018 by failing to complete a NIBSS Instant Payment transfer request and withholding the consumer’s funds beyond the 10-minute reversal regulation for failed NIBSS Instant Payment electronic funds transfer.
A 2-hour majority decision delivered by the Hon Member representing Southwest on the Tribunal, Mrs Sola Salako Ajulo, in a case between Clement Osuya and Stanbic IBTC, held Stanbic IBTC liable for a breach of contract and duty of care owed the Claimant for failing to complete an instruction to transfer the sum of N500,000 to another account in Access Bank and failing to reverse the failed transaction within 10- minutes as stipulated by the 2018 CBN Regulation on NIBSS Interbank Electronic Funds Transfer but withheld the consumer’s funds for up to 24 and 72 hours consecutively in two failed instant electronic transfer transactions.
Stanbic IBTC in its defence, claimed the transaction failed on the NIBSS Instant Payments platform and not on its own platform and as such, it cannot be held liable for negligence or a breach of its duty of care to the Claimant. The Tribunal in its decision averred that an “instant” platform should not take 24 or 72 hours to reverse a failed transaction and the Defendant did not provide the court any documentary evidence to prove that the transfer failed on the NIBSS Instant Payment Platform and not on Stanbic IBTC platform.
By violating the CBN Regulation, the Consumer Tribunal held the bank in contravention of Section 130 (1) (a) &(b) of the FCCPA 2018 which granted the consumer the right to expect timely and completed services from an undertaking who had agreed to provide any service to him.
The three-man panel comprising Mr. Chu’ma Mbonu, Hon Member (Southeast)presiding, Mrs Sola Salako Ajulo Hon Member (Southwest) and Mr Ibrahim El Yakubu, Hon Member (Northwest) delivered a 2-1 ruling affirming the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to hear the suit before proceeding to enter judgement in favour of the Claimant.
A preliminary objection filed by the Defendant, challenged the original jurisdiction of the Tribunal to hear the case, arguing that the matter was a bank/customer dispute which was in the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal or State High Court but the Tribunal held that it had concurrent jurisdiction to hear the substantive suit as can be clearly deduced from S.39(1) (2) and S. 45 which conferred on the Hon Tribunal the status of a High Court dedicated to adjudicate Competition and Consumer Protection conducts prohibited by the FCCPA.
In a minority opinion, the Presiding Member Mr Chu’ma Mbonu supported the Defendant’s preliminary objection claiming that the CCPT had only appellate jurisdiction and cannot hear an originating application in the form of the suit before it.
The lead judgment resolved four issues in favour of the Claimant and one issue in favour of the Defendant . The Tribunal awarded five million Naira in general damages to the Claimant as well as a cost of one million Naira being cost for litigation against the Defendant.
CCPT Abuja, Nigeria