Innocent Anyaka, a 71-year-old man owed DM14,500 (about N3.5million at the current exchange rate) by the United Bank for Africa (UBA) for 38 years, has died.
Anyaka died in an Owerri hospital at about 11:45 pm on Wednesday, after battling diabetes for 15 years.
In a bid to step up his business following a few successful dealings with Khran Chenie Gram, a pharmaceutical company based in Hamburg, Germany, in 1982, Anyaka had deposited N200,000 into UBA for onward conversion to Deutsche Mark and transfer into the company’s account for the importation of pharmaceuticals.
However, UBA withheld part of the converted sum (DM14,500) and refused to honour the depositor’s request for a refund.
Reacting to the resulting delay in payment, Khran Chenie Gram held on to the sum of DM21,000 (N4,915,291 million) it owed Anyaka’s company, putting the business on the verge of collapse.
“UBA destroyed my future,” Anyaka told FIJ. “When they seized that money, I had nothing left to trade.”
When Anyaka wrote through a solicitor, Barrister Esom Casmir, UBA said the money was with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and promised to get a refund across as soon as possible.
For several years, the exchange of words and letters continued among the parties involved until FIJ’s report on January 28, which prompted UBA to make a request for a copy of each of the letters earlier sent to their Lagos head office.
The move soared hope for the septuagenarian and he looked forward to “enjoying the money” in his old age, but UBA would do nothing tangible for several months afterwards.
Prior to FIJ’s follow-up piece published exactly six months after the initial publication, Anyaka had said, “It is important to remind you that UBA has done nothing since then and has refused to invite me officially for a peaceful settlement out of court.”
For the rest of his life, Anyaka nurtured the dream of getting a refund from UBA. On July 27, he told our reporter that he had turned in all UBA requested, including CBN’s reply to one of his lawyer’s letters.
“They have failed, and this is what they have been doing, hoping I would die so the money would be forgotten,” he said.
Joshua Anyaka, one of the deceased’s children, told FIJ that he mentioned the money moments to his death.
“Even when he gave up in my arms, he spoke about it,” he said.
It is not the first time in recent months that UBA has failed to act on grave customer complaints against bank staff or the institution itself.
After FIJ reported how one of its staff, Monday Sule Ilemona, fleeced five customers of N15million while operating straight from the bank premises, the bank responded by saying it had begun investigations into the fraud case.
Immediately after seeing the story, Ramon Nasir, UBA’s Group Head of Media and External Relations, had said the Head of Internal Control had written to the bank’s Head of Customer Service and an Executive Director to investigate the issue and find an immediate resolution to the matter.
“I can assure you that from the responses I have had this morning, the investigation is ongoing,” he had said. “This issue will be resolved and an amicable resolution will be met.”
Nasir explained that even though Monday was most probably acting on his own personal volition, it didn’t excuse the responsibility of the bank to the customer.
“The customer is not responsible to start identifying whether the staff of any institution is real or not real,” he said. “The guy holds an ID Card so he is an agent of the bank. We will find a resolution to this. We will resolve it as quickly as we can and to the benefit of the complainant.”
Several months after, though, UBA has not taken any action to either apprehend the culprit or refund the customer.
Story except headline by FIJ Nigeria.