By Ivan Mwine
The head of the High Court Commercial Division Justice Stephen Mubiru literally threw under the bus a bank client identified as Aida Atiku when he absolved Centenary Bank of any liability of fraud occasioned to Ms. Atiku’s account.
On July 18th, 2022 making a ruling in a case in which Aida Atiku had sued Centenary Bank for withdrawals made on her account allegedly without her consent, Justice Mubiru stated that “it is the customers responsibility to keep their banking information, user IDs ,passwords and PIN numbers confidential. Account take-overs happen when fraudsters acquire the login details of a legitimate user and then use the account as their own.”
Yet in Ms. Atiku’s case she had sought court orders to compel centenary bank to refund more than UGX 50m which she claimed was fraudulently withdrawn electronically from her account over an undisclosed period.
According to Ms. Atiku she opened the account in 2020 and deposited UGX 56.3m. She stated that she withdrew UGX 700,000 only of the money.
She further stated that eight months later she returned to the bank to withdraw the rest of the money but there was no money in the account. She was informed by the bank staff that someone had over time been withdrawing diverse sums of money electronically from her account using the Cente Mobile platform, yet she had never applied for such service.
This is where Justice Mubiru came under fire from various sections of the public after he made such a reckless ruling in which he exonerates the commercial bank from any liability where the poor customer had never signed onto the platform that was used to defraud her account.
But it should be noted that despite Justice Mubiru’s ruling, cases where money is fraudulently debited from customers’ accounts are now rampant.
Justice Mubiru’s recent impugned ruling means that clients dealing with commercial banks are set to find a difficult time trying to get justice whenever money is fraudulently deducted from their accounts.
Another bank that is also on the Spot for defrauding its client base is Equity Bank.
A judgment such as this one and many others before that have sent many banker customers to an early grave while the banks continue to post profits even during Covid seems to indicate that the court is in bed with the banks.
The saying that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done does not seem to concern the courts nowadays.
Concerned Ugandans contend that something needs to be done to call the courts to order otherwise the ordinary Wanainchi will continue to suffer at the hands of their rulings.
And while President Yoweri Museveni has often said that dead banks should be buried and remain buried, in a strange twist of events the courts recently ‘exhumed’ Crane bank.
They handed it back to its owners over the vehement protestations of the regulator after the said owners had salted away billions of shillings of depositors’ money.