When Innocent Anyaka walked into the Aba main branch of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) in 1982, he was about to start a travail that would last a long time — decades, in fact. And 38 years down the line, there’s still no end in sight.
By July 1981, Anyaka had established a trade link with Khran Chenie Gram, a pharmaceutical company based in Hamburg, Germany, and following a few successful dealings, he was set to step up the game with the importation of 5,000 capsules of tetracycline, and 10,000 tabs of ferrous sulphate and gluconate.
He deposited the sum of N200,000 into UBA for onward conversion to Deutsche Mark and transfer to the German company’s account. But the bank failed to remit DM14, 500 (N3,393,891million at the current exchange rate) of the converted amount and would not refund the creditor.
After the bank refused to reply to letters requesting the refund of his money, Anyaka wrote through a solicitor, Barrister Esom Casmir, and subsequently, UBA said the money was with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and promised to get a refund across as soon as possible.
Mr. Anyaka says by holding on to his money back in 1982, UBA destroyed his future.
Exchange of words and letters continued among the parties involved for several years. In a letter dated August 30, 1994, the German company, Khran Chenie, reminded UBA that a certain amount of money meant for the company was yet unremited. It appealed to the bank to render any possible assistance.
The pharmaceutical company had, as a result of the delay, held on to the sum of DM 21, 000 (N4,915,291 million) it owed Anyaka’s company, putting the business on the verge of collapse.
“The UBA destroyed my future,” Anyaka told FIJ. “When they seized that money, I had nothing left to trade.”
In Febuary 2019, Vitalis Ekwem, one of the creditor’s lawyers, hinted that UBA’s blunt refusal to address previous letters from his client after receiving and acknowledging them was a “ploy to hinge on ‘Limitation Period.’”
Within the legal sphere, ‘limitation period’ puts a timeline between the occurrence of an event and the time legal proceeding can begin on it. Whatever is reported outside the time-frame stands the risk of not getting the court’s attention.
While speaking with FIJ, Anyaka, who said he had petitioned the CBN to no avail, revealed that the UBA has done the same to a number of Nigerians, many of whom are now dead.
“This is something they have done to so many people. Some of them died while trying to reclaim their money and UBA ‘ate’ it. Please, help me,” he said.
An email sent to UBA on Wednesday has not been replied.