Nigeria’s oldest bank, First Bank of Nigeria Plc is in the eyes of the storm presently.
The bank is battling tooth and nail to protect its image and integrity which is on the verge of being dragged in the mud a missing jewelry box belonging to ex-Nigerian Ambassador to Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau, Mrs Justina Eze. The contents of the box are reportedly worth N1 billion.
The whole saga dated back to 24 years ago.
Mrs Justina Eze was appointed as an Ambassador by then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
While on the way out of Nigeria for her assignment, she purchased a safe deposit at the Enugu branch of First Bank.
She handed her box of jewelry to her daughter, Dr Chinwe Eze-Boulhassane, a customer of the bank, to deposit the box of jewelry at the safe box she had purchased. An agreement was reached on how much she will be paying and the agreed was being deducted from the account of her daughter, who’s a customer of the bank.
The box of jewelry contains gold, diamond, coral beads and other materials and they are worth about N1 billion.
When the former Ambassador was ready to take back her box of jewelry later, she was surprised when the bank declared the box missing.
All efforts to retrieve the box failed which eventually led to the customer and her mother taking the matter to the Enugu High Court.
The demand of mother and daughter is simple: it’s either First Bank produce the missing jewelry box or pay current monetary value of the contents of the box.
The case is currently going on at the Enugu High Court before Justice Chinyere Ajogwu.
Last week, Eze-Boulhassane appeared at the court and led in evidence by her counsel, Chief Olusola Oke, SAN, she narrated how the box was deposited at the bank for safekeeping and how the bank has been deducting an agreed sum from her account monthly as fee for the safe keeping.
The Bank’s lawyers asked for adjournment and the case was adjourned to Wednesday, 10 May, 2023.
At the resume hearing on Wednesday, 10 May, 2023, when the First Bank of Nigeria Plc through its counsel tried to smuggle in a forged document into court during a cross examination of the first plaintiff in the suit.
During her cross-examination on Wednesday at the resumed hearing, the counsel to the First Bank brought a document with a forged signature of the first plaintiff (Eze-Boulhassane). She denied the document and insisted that she never signed such a document with the bank manager and one other person.
To show that the signature was forged, she brought her international passport, drivers’ license and other documents bearing her signature to show the court that the bank document was fake and forged.
The bank counsel eventually withdrew the document.