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Court Voids Policy Of No Refund Of Money After Payment By Service Providers

…..Orders Peace Mass Transport To N500,000 Damages To Lawyer

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A State High Court presided over by Hon. Justice C.O. Ajah, has sets aside policy of no refund of money after payment by service providers, just as it has ordered Peace Mass Transport Company (PMT) to pay the sum of 500,000 naira to an Enugu based Lawyer, Barrister Patrick Chukwuma as damages over the ill treatment meted on him under such unlawful policy.

Trouble started On 28 July 2021, when the plaintiff, Barrister Chukwuma, who works with the law firm of Eze, Dimude, Eze & Co, Enugu, filed a suit against Peace Mass Transit Limited challenging the company’s policy of “no refund of money after payment”.

However, African Examiner reports that the incident that led to the suit happened on 10/2/2021 when the Plaintiff purchased a ticket from the Obollor-Afor branch of Peace Mass Transit Limited to convey him to Enugu.

Due to a two hours delay occasioned by the absence of passengers, Barr. Chukwuma decided not to continue the journey with the transport firm and returned to the ticketing office where he asked for a refund of the #500 he paid as the transportation fare. But Staff of the Defendant however, refused to refund the money, insisting that their company policy was that money paid for transport fare cannot be returned to the passenger, citing the statement written on their ticket to that effect as conclusive proof of their position.

Efforts by Barr. Chukwuma to explain to them that their policy was unlawful, as the law mandates them to refund fares for services that have not been provided they retorted in a rude manner, prompting the learned counsel to leave their park and seek alternative means of traveling back to Enugu.

Later, the plaintiff wrote a letter to Peace Mass Group of companies demanding an apology and refund, a request the company neglected and ignored, prompting the lawyers law firm to institute suit number: E/514/2021 Patrick Chukwunwike Chukwuma v Peace Mass Transit Limited.

The suit prayed the court to determine a sole question which was “whether the Defendant’s policy of “no refund of money after payment” is in violation of Section 120 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018 especially when the contractual obligation to convey the Plaintiff to his preferred location was terminated”.

The Plaintiff through his team of lawyers led by Barrister Tochukwu Odo, amongst other grounds, had argued that the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018 is the primary law on questions of consumer transaction in Nigeria and that by virtue of section 120 of the law, the consumer has a right to cancel any advance booking, reservation or order for any goods or services subject only to the deduction of a reasonable charge by the service provider.

But the Defendant through their counsel Barr. Titus Odo raised technical arguments on the jurisdiction of the court and mode of commencement of the suit.

Delivering his judgment on the matter yesterday Thursday, Justice Ajah, promptly dismissed the objections of the Defendant and upheld the arguments of the Plaintiff.

After a thorough analysis of the provisions of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018 vis a vis the conduct of the parties in the case, the Judge, decided that indeed the policy of no refund of money after payment is illegal, null and void in light of the provisions of Sections 120, 104, 129(1)(a) and (b) (iii) of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018.

The court thereafter made a declaration that the refusal of the Defendant to refund the Plaintiff the money paid for the transportation fee from Obollor-Afor to Enugu on 10/2/2021 is unlawful.

Justice Ajah, further ordered the Defendant to pay the sum of #500,000 as damages to the Plaintiff.

Our Correspondent observed that the case puts service providers on notice that more Nigerians are now alive to their rights as citizens and will not hesitate to enforce same should the need arise.

It has equally puts an end to the menace of service providers who collect money from consumers and refuse to refund same when they don’t offer the services for which the money was paid.

Meanwhile, some residents of Enugu who spoke with African Examiner under condition of anonymity on the Court judgment, applauded the Justice Ajah for the verdict, describing it as a land mark judgment, saying indeed, the judiciary remains the last hope of a common man.

Short URL: https://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=75559

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