Reject MasterCard Transactions With NIMC Logo, Court Orders Banks

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered all Nigerian banks not to honour any Mastercard transaction that has the logo of the National Identity Card Management Commission (NIMC) on it, pending the determination of a design infringement suit filed by Chams Plc, and Chams Consortium against the Singaporean payment and financial technology company.

The trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa also ordered that the court order and other processes, be served outside jurisdiction on Mastercard’s office at 152 Beach Road, 35-00, The Gateway East, Singapore.

The court made the order sequel to an ex-parte application filed by Chams Plc lawyer, Snr Advocate of Nigeria, Kemi Pinheiro asking the court for the restraining order.

Joined as defendants with the Singaporean firm in the suit, are its Nigerian subsidiary, Mastercard Services Sub-Sahara Ltd, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mr Ajay Banga, Daniel Monehin, and Omokehinde Ojomuyide.

The court also listed the names of the banks on which the orders should be served before adjourning till November 25, 2019 to hear the motion on notice.

In a 41-paragraph statement of claim filed before the court, the plaintiffs claim that sometime in 2006, they were invited by the Federal Government of Nigeria to bid for the Nigeria National Identity Card project.

As a result of the invitation, the plaintiff says it went into research and originated a smart card technical design that could serve as a national identity card as well as a means of general financial payment and banking transaction.

“The smartcard design is as a result of extensive financial, human, and intellectual investment in research and development and same has never been executed in any part of Africa”, the plaintiffs averred.

The national identity card although designed primarily as an ID card, also has other functions that include the incorporation of bank transaction functionality such as cash withdrawals, balance enquiries, PIN change, bill payments, account transfers, and airtime purchases. It also features biometric functionality with electronic payments, and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) travel card.

On May 25, 2007, NIMC on behalf of the Federal Government announced the plaintiff (Chams Plc) as the preferred bidder for the concession. This was confirmed by a letter from NIMC on the same date.

The plaintiff further stated that due to the national significance, complexity, and enormity of the project, it was necessary for them to collaborate with other companies and service providers to provide support in order to achieve the multi-faceted design it created.

“The first and second defendants, as a result of their perceived competence in the financial and payment service space, approached the plaintiffs through the 5th and 6th defendants on the authority of the 4th defendant with an offer to provide the payment infrastructure for the card”, the plaintiffs further averred, pointing to several correspondences between both parties.

The plaintiffs further stated: “The concession was awarded to the plaintiffs based upon its unique and ingenuous design submitted to the third defendant and the federal government.

The design was contained in the Lump Sum Contract of Works and Services for the Personalization of National Identity (Smart) cards and prototype documents submitted to the third defendant”.

The plaintiffs further pointed to several trainings and workshops they organized in conjunction with NIMC, between March and May, 2012, where stakeholders are sensitized on how the national identity card is programmed to work.

Technical partners, including MasterCard were also in attendance and they played active roles.

“The plaintiffs in uttermost good faith provided and made available their developments, research, design, and concept for the Nigerian National Identity (smart) Card to MasterCard in the belief that the plaintiffs and MasterCard were partners on the project”, it further stated.

Things, however, took another twist when in May 8, 2013, Mastercard in a press release announced to the world that it was set to produce over 100 million copies of the National identity smart card, using the exact designs created by the plaintiffs. “By the joint press release of the defendants, it was discovered that Mastercard, without recourse to the plaintiffs as the originators of the concept and design, unilaterally and without justifiable reason announced the publishing issuance, and distribution of the national identity smart cards based on the same concept and design created by the plaintiffs”, it was further claimed.

The specimen was allegedly released by Mastercard both in the press release, and on its global website, “where they applauded themselves for having developed an e-ID (electronics ID) for the Nigerian citizenry which has exactly the same features as the concept and design of the plaintiffs”, it stated.

The defendants allegedly went on subsequently to produce the e-ID for NIMC with the exact prototype created by the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs further stated the technical details of the infringement on their designs.

Due to this infringement, the plaintiffs say that its contract with NIMC was terminated. Although the termination was challenged in court, NIMC and the plaintiffs resolved the issues amicably.

However, the plaintiff claimed that on its design, NIMC had already awarded a contract with them to produce 50 million e-cards. “In order to fully implement the contract, the plaintiffs entered into several agreements with the first defendant to provide support to achieve the desired objective of the contract.

The plaintiffs further claimed to have lost reputation, and enormous amounts of money as a result of the action of the defendants. Part of the loss included setting up of Chams limited that has capacity for processing and switching 100 million national identity cards; establishment of a card personalisation plant in Abuja, Nigeria that has capacity to produce 1,750,000 cards per day; and acquisition of several technical partners.

The grouse of the Plaintiffs according to its court processes is that Mastercard has stolen and infringed upon its intellectual property in the design of the National Identitiy card.

The plaintiffs, therefore, asked the court for the following reliefs:

A declaration that the plaintiffs as the originators and creators of the National Identity Smart Card design more particularly described in the statement of claim, are entitled to the exclusive and uninterrupted use of same without any interference by any other person;

A declaration that the act of the 1st, 2nd,4th, and 6th defendants in manufacturing, producing, or printing National Identity Smart Card with the design of the plaintiffs without consent of the plaintiffs, amounts to an infringement of the plaintiff’s intellectual property rights in the design;

An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th from manufacturing, designing, producing, and or printing, or authorizing the manufacturing, producting, designing and or printing of any National Identity Card with the logo ”NIMC” more particularly described in the statement of claim;

An order for the delivery -up, or destruction upon oath of all National Identity Smart Card produced by the 1st, 2nd,4th, and 6th defendants using the plaintiffs’ concept and design or other articles in the possession, custody, or control of the defendants;

An inquiry as to damages or at the plaintiff’s option, an account of profit, and order for payment of all sums due together with interest as aforesaid.

N25m Fraud: Court Jails Two Ex-Bankers After 10 Years Trial

Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

 

Justice Adama Iyami- Lamikanra of the Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has convicted and sentenced a former manager of Diamond Bank Plc (now Access Bank), Chinyere Oti, and a former account officer of the same bank, Odigboh Okechukwu, to two years imprisonment.

The duo were jailed on Monday for defrauding the bank the sum of N25,018,467, the spokesman from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement.

The convicts were arraigned on November 19, 2009, by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the EFCC on seven charges bordering on conspiracy and stealing.

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The charges were amended on April 25, 2019.

Count four of the charge read, “Odigboh Okechukwu and Chinyere Oti on or about the  23rd day of October, 2008 at Diamond Bank Plc  Port Harcourt within the Port Harcourt Judicial Division did fraudulently steal the sum of  twenty million four hundred and thirty one thousand three hundred and forty two naira five kobo (N20,431,342.05) property of Diamond Bank Plc by means of Diamond Bank Cheque No. 16216303 through an unfunded account in the name of Achufa Investment Limited operated by Odigboh Okechukwu and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 381 (1) and punishable under Section 390( 9) of the Criminal Code CAP 37  Vol. II Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.”

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Their pleas led to a 10-year- long trial.

The prosecution called three witnesses and tendered 15 exhibits while the defence called three witnesses.

Delivering her judgment on Monday, Justice Iyayi- Lamikanra found the two defendants guilty of the charges and sentenced them to two years imprisonment each or an option of fine of N1,000,000 each.

She also ordered the convicts to pay a sum of N25 million as restitution to Diamond Access Bank Plc.

Trouble came for the two convicts when the former Diamond Bank Plc petitioned the EFCC alleging that its manager at  Rumukwrushi Branch in Port Harcourt, Mrs Chinyere Oti, fraudulently opened a current account for one of its customers and used the account to make fraudulent withdrawals and overdrew it to N25,018,467.

Investigations revealed that the alleged customer of the bank never opened an account with the bank, but Okechukwu used the customer’s photograph to open the account without the customer’s knowledge or consent.

It was through the account the two convicts defrauded the bank.

Alleged N34bn Fraud: Ex-Bank Director Challenges Forfeiture Of N9bn

Bauchi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos is set to hear the case of a former First Bank Director, Mr Dauda Lawal, who is challenging the forfeiture of a sum of N9 billion.

In documents put before the court, Mr Lawal claims that the Federal High Court in Lagos which ordered the forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government had no jurisdiction to do so.

The money, N9.08 billion is part of a larger sum of N23.4 billion and another $5 million (totalling about N34bn then), which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) linked to former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The EFCC alleged that the sums were stolen by Mrs Alison-Madueke and several accomplices from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and stashed in three banks.

The commission made these arguments before Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court, Lagos while seeking the forfeiture of the monies and in February 2017.

Justice Hassan ordered the final forfeiture of the funds after ruling that no one had legitimate claims to the monies.

At the time, the judge said he was satisfied with the EFCC’s argument that the monies were proceeds of illegal activity.

However, the former bank boss in his sole application before the Court of Appeal is challenging the forfeiture of N9.08bn out of the money.

In his notice of appeal, Lawal contended that the judge erred in law by ordering the forfeiture and asked the appellate court to make an order to “set aside the judgment dated 16 February 2017 for being without jurisdiction and thereby a nullity.”

He also sought an order setting aside the forfeiture of the money which he said the EFCC obtained from him while he was being detained.

The former bank director urged the court to order the EFCC to return the sum to him.

In documents put in support of his application, he submitted that the forfeited money was not found in his possession as required by Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act.

He had earlier admitted receiving $25 million of the sum in the clear dispensation of his duties but insisted that he was coerced by the commission to further admit receiving a total of $65 million.

Lawal, therefore, sought a refund of the balance of $40m (about N9.08bn at the time) which he said he had to borrow from family and friends to pay while he was in EFCC custody.

He argued that his failure to appeal the forfeiture within time was due to his “apprehension that if he challenged the judgment whilst the investigation was ongoing, he would be further detained by the EFCC.”

The former bank official has, however, been charged alongside some others following the conclusion of the investigation by the EFCC.

When the matter came up for mention, the court adjourned further proceedings and told parties that a date for hearing would be communicated to them.

Police Officer Killed, Unspecified Sum Of Money Carted Away As Robbers Invade Bank In Ekiti

President Buhari To Swear In Ministers August 21

 

Armed robbers have invaded a bank (Wema) in Ise Ekiti, killing a police officer and carting away unspecified amount of money.

The Police Public Relations Officer in Ekiti state, Mr. Caleb Ikechukwu who confirmed the incident said the gang broke the bank security door with dynamite to gain access.

He said men of the force are on the robbers’ trail and called on residents of the state not to entertain fear.

Seven Shot Dead, Five Injured In Ondo Bank Robbery

 

Seven people have been killed after an eleven-man gang of robbers attacked a branch of First Bank in Idoani, Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State.

The robbers reportedly stormed the town on Monday afternoon, shooting sporadically and broke the bank’s security doors with an explosive device.

The bank is said to be the only commercial bank in Idoani, serving the other neighboring towns as well.

Channels Television gathered that the robbers shot and killed seven people, including bank officials, a Police Inspector as well as two customers using the Automated Teller Machine (ATM).

Five other persons who sustained serious injuries are presently on admission at the intensive care unit at the General Hospital in the town.

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According to an eyewitness account, the armed robbers escaped through the bush in the area with an unspecified amount of money stolen from the bank.

Shortly after their escape, men of the Nigerian Army arrived at the scene.

A spokesperson for the Ondo State Police Command, SP Femi Joseph confirmed the incident to Channels Television.

He disclosed that one suspect has been apprehended in connection with the robbery attack and investigations are ongoing to fish out the fleeing members.

He appealed to residents to be law-abiding, remain calm not to entertain fears as the police are on top of the situation.

England World Cup-Winning Goalkeeper, Bank Dies

In this file photo taken on July 25, 2012 England’s former international goalkeeper Gordon Banks carries the Olympic Torch in front of Wembley Stadium in west London / AFP

 

Gordon Banks, England’s goalkeeper when they won the 1966 World Cup, has died aged 81, his former club Stoke City announced on Tuesday.

Banks, who played in every game of the 1966 campaign on home soil, is probably best known for a wonder save he produced to deny Brazilian great Pele in the 1970 World Cup.

His family said Banks, who lost an eye in a car crash in 1972, had passed away in his sleep.

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“It is with great sadness that we announce that Gordon passed away peacefully overnight,” his family said.

“We are devastated to lose him but we have so many happy memories and could not have been more proud of him.”

Senate Warns Nigerians Against Use Of Bitcoins

Federal lawmakers on Tuesday called for more investigation into cryptocurrencies to protect Nigerians from the unverified and risky investment.

Beaming its searchlight on the cryptocurrency phenomenon, the lawmakers said it is important for the Federal Government to pay attention to the proliferation of cryptocurrency schemes in the country.

“It (Bitcoins) does not exist in any tangible form and it is also not subject to any local or international monetary regulation or backed by any established government institution,” one of the lawmakers said, while calling for the education of Nigerians on the dangers of the currency.

Bitcoin ads in Nigeria are well-circulated as they appear on social media and are even aired on local television and radio stations with the promise of a huge financial windfall.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) warned in 2017 that anyone trading in Bitcoin is doing so at his or her own risk as cryptocurrencies are not legal tenders in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Senator Magnus Abe called the attention of the lawmakers to the arbitrary bank charges and illegal deductions by commercial banks.

He also asked the Senate to look into what he termed ‘unjust remedies’ which the CBN offer to victims of excess and illegal deductions by commercial banks.

“Aware that the Central Bank of Nigeria on the 20th of February reported that it had recovered over N2.6billion from depositors fund from banks as excess funds imposed on their customers in 2015 alone,” he said.

Another lawmaker said many bank customers don’t care to look through the terms and conditions when opening a bank account but only lament when the bank charges are deducted from their accounts. Others were of the view that banks have the obligation of being honest to their customers.

The Senate thereafter directed its committee on banking to conduct a public hearing to amend the laws, rules and guidelines which do not protect customers and does not provide for a substantial remedy when overcharged by commercial banks.

Reps Raise Concern On ATM Charges

Banking, ATM, ATM charges, BVN, House of Reps,
Nigerians at an ATM

The House of Representatives, on Thursday mandated its committee on banking and currency to investigate the illegal and indiscriminate automated teller machines charges by commercial banks in the country.

Speaking on the motion which was supported by most lawmakers, the House observed that the banks are not complying with the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria on ATM withdrawals.

The lawmakers also wondered why banks are not being penalised and sanctioned for these illegal practices.

The committee is expected to report back to House in four weeks.

NLC Withdraws Strike Notice Served On 6 Banks

NLC, BanksThe Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has withdrawn the strike notice it served on six commercial banks on June 15 over the mass sacking of workers and redundancy in the banking sector.

The President of the NLC, Mr Ayuba Wabba, made this known on Wednesday during a media briefing in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

He said that it was agreed that all hostilities including the strike notice should be put on hold to await the outcome of a meeting proposed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Mr Wabba explained that the leadership of the NLC had been briefed by its affiliate union, the National Union of Banks, Insurance, and Financial Institutions Employees, on the extent of its engagement with the affected banks on the contentious issues.

He insisted that the banks must follow the labour law when it comes to disengaging the workers.

Fidelity Bank To Support Nigeria-Netherlands Trade Ties

fidelity bankFidelity Bank Plc has said it would continue to support trade and investment between Nigeria and the Netherlands as the nation awaits possible changes in government policies.

Speaking at a luncheon of the Nigerian Netherlands Chamber of Commerce in Lagos, the Managing Director of the bank, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, welcomed the intentions of members of the Chamber to increase investments in all sectors of the nation’s economy, as it has done with the volume of trade.

Fidelity Bank promises to always be there to support every kind of business between the two countries (Nigeria and Netherlands).

During the luncheon, the NNCC expressed optimism in the opportunities that the change of government holds for the country and it’s business allies.

A renowned economist, Bismark Rewane, also presented a business and economic outlook to the audience.

Established in 1978, The Nigerian Netherlands Chamber of Commerce ‎has contributed to Nigeria’s economy with trade volumes hitting around 7 billion Euros per annum.

Sectors in which the Nigerian Netherlands Chamber of Commerce hopes to invest hugely include agriculture, education, infrastructure and alternative power.

The Chamber says its main objective is to promote and protect trade, agriculture and industrial relations between the Netherlands and Nigeria .

Yobe To Prioritize Health And Education In 2015 Budget

yobeYobe state governor, Mr Ibrahim Gaidam, has said that health care services and education will top government expenditure for the 2015 fiscal year.

Governor Ibrahim said education and health care would be given the topmost priority in the implementation of the 2015 budget.

The Governor disclosed this while inspecting a 200 bed capacity hospital and the Specialist Hospital located in Damaturu, Yobe state capital.

Governor Ibrahim noted that despite the short fall in revenue allocation from the federation account, his administration would do everything possible to ensure that all structures at both hospitals are properly furnished and used.

Mr Gaidam added that his administration will henceforth be focused on the healthcare delivery and quality education after prioritising road construction since inception.

The State Commissioner of Health, Dr Mohammed Bello Kawuwa, said equipping the two structures would immensely solve the health care needs of the people within the state and beyond.

According to him, the various Specialist Hospitals, when furnished with modern facilities would tackle cases of patients with complicated medical issues.

The commissioner further praised the Gaidam administration for the free drugs being given to women, children and accident victims, saying it has gone a long way to improve maternal and child mortality in the state.

Hamas And Israel Resume Hostilities After Humanitarian Cease Fire

A Palestinian family gathers inside their damaged home, which police said was targeted in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza CityPalestinians rushed to shops and banks on Thursday as a five-hour humanitarian truce agreed by Israel and Hamas came into force, hours after the Israeli military said it had fought off gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza.

About a dozen Palestinian fighters tunnelled under the border, emerging near an Israeli community. At least one was killed when an Israeli aircraft bombed the group, the military said.

The break in 10 days of fighting was requested by the United Nations to allow residents of the Gaza strip, ruled by the Hamas group viewed by Israel as terrorists, to gather supplies and repair some of the infrastructure damaged.

At least 224 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed, Gaza health officials say. In Israel, one civilian has been killed by fire from Gaza, where the Israeli military says more than 1,300 rockets have been launched into the Jewish state in strikes that have made a race to shelters a routine for hundreds of thousands of people.

Israel’s military, which government officials said was poised to expand its air and naval bombardments into possible ground operations, said it would respond “firmly and decisively” if militants launched attacks during the truce.

In Gaza City, hundreds of Palestinian lined up outside banks to collect salaries paid directly into their accounts, while others went food shopping. Gaza roads almost deserted over days of conflict were filled again with traffic.

“We are here to get paid. Thank God for the calm and we hope it lasts,” said Zakaria Ahmed, 35. “We hope Egypt brings a good truce, we hope the killing will stop and (Gaza’s border) crossings will open.”

After the early morning clash over the tunnel, and before the five-hour ceasefire began, air raid sirens sounded across Israel, including in the Tel Aviv area, the country’s heartland, warning of a heavy barrage of incoming rockets.

The military said that at least one rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and another fell in a town near Tel Aviv. There were no reports of casualties.

Also, before the pause in fighting, an Israeli aircraft bombed a house in Rafah in southern Gaza, killing three people and wounding several others, medical officials said.

However, Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian militants have since the resumed hostilities in Gaza after the temporary humanitarian cease-fire came to an end.

 

There were no reports of violations of the truce but U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian Territories, James Rawley told VOA that the violence resumed shortly after the cease-fire expired.

“Rockets have been going out of Gaza and airstrikes and naval bombardment has resumed on Gaza,” he said, “so once again the people of Gaza are suffering and probably dying, and the people of Israel are also being victimized by rockets and mortars going out of Gaza”, he said.