Supreme Court rules in favor of former First Bank covenant implicated in N355m fraud and orders payment of N7.5m in damages
Nigeria’s Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Omeli Humphrey Darlington, a former First Bank of Nigeria Plc dispatch rider who was entangled in a multi-million naira fraud with former bank staff.
Darlington, who worked with First Bank’s Iganmu branch between October 2010 and December 2013, was involved in a failed N355 million fraud by two bank staff, Mr Abimbola Jaiyesimi and Ms Mojisola Majasan.
After the attempted embezzlement of the money came to light, being the only junior member of staff aware of the fraud, he was accused of attempting to unilaterally defraud the bank.
After being subjected to torture and humiliation, Darlington filed a lawsuit for violation of basic human rights against the officials.
In February 2016, Judge W. Animasahun of the Lagos State High Court in a fundamental rights proceeding between Darlington and Jaiyesimi and Majasan rendered judgment in favor of Darlington.
The duo were held liable by the court for unlawful detention and 17.7 million naira was awarded against them, while 500,000 naira was awarded to the Ikoyi police station.
Jaiyesimi and Majasan appealed against the judgment to the Lagos Division Court of Appeal. In its decision of December 14, 2017, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Darlington.
Subsequently, the case was tried in the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Abuja before Lordships: Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju; Musa Dattujo Muhammad; Chima Centus Nweze; Uwani Abba Aji; Adamu Jauro with case number: SC. B05/2018.
In rendering her judgment on March 4, 2022, Judge Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju ruled in favor of Darlington, ordering the payment of 7.5 million naira as damages awarded to the 2 appellants.
The court further ruled that the amount awarded as costs stood as there was no appeal against it.
The record reads: “This is an appeal against the competing factual findings of the two courts below. The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, Coram: JS Ikeyegh; AU Ogakwu; AO Obaseki-Adejumo rendered his judgment on December 14, 2017 confirming the judgment of the trial court in favor of the defendant.
“The appellants had appealed from the judgment of the trial court rendered by the Hon. Judge W. Animasahun of the Lagos State High Court in a fundamental rights proceeding on February 1, 2016, in which judgment was given in favor of the defendant (petitioner at trial).
“There is no evidence that the respondent would have lost much money during detention even though he lost his freedom in egregious circumstances.
“Having agreed that the Appellants’ behavior was wrong and malicious, but considering that the Appellant did not actually lose any money during the relevant period, the damages awarded are revised downward as follows :
“1.5 million naira (five million naira) in damages awarded to the 2 appellants.
“2. 2.5 million naira (two million five hundred thousand naira) in damages awarded to the 2nd defendant.
“The amount awarded as costs is valid, there is no appeal against it. The appeal succeeds in part. The parties bear their costs of this appeal.”