Heritage Bank applied a new approach of recovering an impaired loan Monday when its staff protested at the home of a former senator asking him to pay up.
The former lawmaker, Andy Uba, who represented Anambra North, is currently a governorship candidate in his state.
Videos of bank workers at his property emerged Monday, showing at least a dozen officials at the entrance to Mr Uba’s Abuja home. A voice explained that the staff were there for a “peaceful meeting” to ask Mr Uba to pay his outstanding debt.
“Senator Uba has been owning the bank for a couple of years now, and we are here for a peaceful meeting with him, a very peaceful meeting. To ask him to kindly repay those loans, because they are depositors’ funds,” the unidentified speaker said.
“Those monies, if they are not repaid, will throw the number of the people you see here, with their families out of work. And we know the situation of the economy now. If this number of people are thrown out of work, you know what it means. So that people will not lose their job!”
Mr. Uba did not respond to calls and text messages from PREMIUM TIMES. But on Wednesday, he threatened to sue the bank and demanded N5 billion. He claimed the move was politically motivated.
“This is more so, as you deliberately picked the rather inauspicious period immediately preceding the forthcoming gubernatorial primary election of the All Progressives Congress [APC] for Anambra State slated for the 26th of June 2021, wherein our client is the leading candidate to clinch his Party’s ticket, to stage this smear campaign against him,” he said in a letter signed by his lawyer, Ahmed Raji.
The spokesperson of Heritage Bank, Fela Ibidapo, denied the claim.
“That was not planned at all, the bank naturally will go and do recovery, if you check Mr. Andy’s letter through his lawyer, he never said he didn’t owe the bank,” he told PREMIUM TIMES, referring to the video going public.
“Everything is not political, unfortunately the timing for him seems as if it will affect his primaries, we could care less about that because it was just on our schedule to go to his place at that certain time.”
He said Mr. Uba has been “evading” the bank’s effort to recover the loan. He however, did not give the figures of the loan.
But, officials told the newspaper that Mr Uba got about N5 billion in 2015 from the then defunct Enterprise bank. The loan was then bought over when Heritage bank acquired Enterprise bank.
Officials said when interest is considered, the total amount owed now would be over N10 billion.
They said the bank could not take over the collateral for loan, in Banana Island in Lagos, as the building is heavily guarded by security.
“The collateral we have not had access to, it is heavily guided by security. And of course, we have tried repeatedly, writing him through lawyers, trying to take the matter to court but he keeps frustrating all the effort,” one source said.
“All the efforts to retrieve the loan from him over the years have proved abortive which is the reason why the bank which he took the loan from, took some staff from the department of recovery to protest peacefully.”
The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.