When Innoson got two different high court judgements against GTBank about 11 years ago, the combined amount GTBank was asked to pay Innoson was about N3 billion. But GTBank refused to pay and chose to go to the Appeal Court and Supreme Court where it lost.
As a smart man in business, Innoson had asked the high court to make GTBank pay it back with an interest of 22% from the day the infractions were committed, because Innoson argued that GTBank was charging it an interest of 22% for all the loans it took. GTBank wanted to pay an interest of 5%. The court saw merit in the argument of Innoson and granted it. How can a bank charge a customer 22% on the loan the customer took and then want to pay back illegal deductions and penalties at 5%? That is how banks like to toy with our money.
By 2015 the amount had risen to over 8 billion naira. By 2020 it had risen to over 30 billion naira. By 2025 it will be 81 billion naira. That is why some investment experts called compound interest the 8th wonder of the world.
Compound interest can change N100,000 to N10,000,000 after some years. Don’t joke with it.
GTBank made a big mistake in underrating Innoson. It saw him as an illiterate Nnewi businessman that could easily back down once harassed and intimidated. After all, Chief Innocent Chukwuma stopped his Western education at the primary school level. So what did he know and what could he do?, the bank must have reasoned.
GTBank got an exparte motion through the “famous” Justice Okon Abang to freeze all bank accounts operated by Innoson in Nigeria for over one year. Imagine doing such a thing to a businessman. That will cripple most businesses. When the court found out that GTBank deceived it with wrong information, that motion was vacated and another court slammed over 2 billion damages on GTBank in favour of Innoson.
GTBank also used EFCC to harass Innoson’s CEO and accuse him of fraud. It used the media to demonize him as a bad guy. It just wanted to use its might to run the guy out of business. But Chief Innoson Chukwuma refused to succumb. He refused to drop the cases or accept the peanuts GTBank wanted to pay him after demonizing him and trying to cripple him financially.
Segun Agbaje, the current CEO of GTBank, is not an astute business man and strategist. If this were under Tayo Aderinnokun or Fola Adeola, this issue would not have been allowed to degenerate to this dirty level. You don’t play Russian roulette or brinkmanship with a financial brand like GTBank.
Some people have argued that 30 billion naira is not huge for GTBank to pay given its size and profit margin. But which company wants to throw away N30 billion? If GTBank didn’t want to pay N3 billion, is it N30 billion naira or N81 billion that it would pay happily without feeling it or losing the trust of the public and being seen as a reckless manager of funds?
Credit : Azuka Onwuka