A team of lawyers has been assembled by Mrs. Confidence Nwabuokei, a former staff of Access Bank in Asaba to prosecute three senior management staff of the bank for unlawful detention and inhuman treatment reportedly meted on her over a missing car key belonging to the Asaba branch manager, one Mrs. Oluchi Nwabuikwu.
The team of lawyers from The Water-Tight Attorneys, in a letter to the Managing Director of the bank titled “Unlawful detention, character assassination, inhuman treatment meted against Mrs. Confidence Nwabuokei by Oluchi Nwabuikwu, Nnaji Edward and Ifeanyi Onwukwe, gave seven days ultimatum for the trio to respond or face legal action. The letter was signed by AN Nwiba for the Water Tight Attorneys.
A copy of the letter which was obtained by Emerald News gave full details of what transpired and the inhuman treatment meted on Confidence Nwabuokei by the trio in the office of the compliance officer, one Mr. Edward Nnaji. According to the report, she was reportedly detained in the office from 11am to 4.30pm.
According to her, she was accused of stealing a car key which belongs to the manager of the bank, Oluchi Nwabuikwu. In the office of the compliance officer, despite her protest against the cold emanating from the AC due to her health condition, the managers detained her there for over five hours in the pretext of carrying out investigation.
In the letter which was copied to the chairman of National Human Rights Commission and the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, the attorneys said the trouble began a day after the branch manager’s birthday on February 26, 2021. On that day, Nwabuikwu informed the Access Bank staff that she had misplaced her car keys.
However, the letter says on the 12th day of April, 2021, Mrs. Nwabuokei saw a car key on the floor and informed one of the staff named Juliet Isichei but both of them ignored it and went about their duties. Thereafter, the car keys were shown to the manager who confirmed that the car keys belonged to her.
The letter said on 15th of April, she was invited to the office of the compliance officer, one Edward Nnaji for investigation and detention. There, she was reportedly accused of stealing the car key belonging to Oluchi Nwabuikwu.
She was detained in the compliance office from 11am to 4.30pm against all entreaties and pleas to let her go back to her work. She also pleaded to either reduce or switch off the air conditioner due to her health condition. But all entreaties failed and was warned never to complain again.
The South East zonal manager, Ifeanyi Onwuke and Oluchi Nwabuikwu locked her in the office of the compliance officer and left, noting that they were setting up the CCTV so as to watch what transpired in the banking hall so as to properly handle her case.
But from 11am till 4pm, they never showed up. It was the intervention of her husband, Barrister Justice Nwabuokei that led to the release of his wife. The husband thereafter came to the bank to demand why his wife should be detained in a man’s office for such a long period of time.
Mrs. Confidence Nwabuokei demanded for the CCTV footage to watch and see how she stole the car keys but, according to her, she was told that the CCTV was not working. But the manager was able to extract a video where Confidence was reportedly passing and showed it to all staff of the bank.
The three senior staff told Barrister Justice, husband of Confidence that the report of the investigation would be released within two weeks but it was never released. She kept on demanding for the report until she waa transferred from the Asaba branch to Onitsha.
The letter written by the attorneys said from the day of the detention till now, her health has been deteriorating as she suffers from pneumonia, severe chest pain and heart enlargement which causes her heart to beat abnormally.
The attorneys also said some strange persons have been calling her with hidden numbers to issue threat to her since she continuously demand for the report of the investigation.
The team of lawyers has therefore given seven days to the auhority of the bank to direct an independent investigation into the matter, offer apology in two national dailies and carry out necessary disciplinary action against the erring staff.
When contacted for reaction, Mr. Ifeanyi Onwukwe, Access Bank South East zonal manager, refused to give comment. Rather, he directed Emerald News to the national headquarters of the bank. The same response was given by the Asaba branch manager, Oluchi Nwabuikwu.