A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos struck out a suit filed by a lawyer, Chief Abdullai Tony Dania, against AIICO Insurance company, over alleged breach of contract.
Justice Yelim Bogoro in her Judgement on Wednesday held that the claimant did not wait for the outcome of his petition to the National Insurance Commission, NAICOM, before approaching the court to seek redress.
Consequently, Justice Bogoro stuck out the suit and awarded a cost of N100,000, against the lawyer in favour of the insurance company.
The plaintiff had in an affidavit sworn to by Litigation Manager. Mr. Abimbola Mayowa stated that he entered into an insurance policy contract with AIICO in the year 2007, with policy No. 12028081.
The plaintiff claimed that he kept to his side of the contract, and made financial deposits to the Insurance company periodically though he missed some years when he was on admission at Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital after surviving a fatal motor accident.
The plaintiff claimed that the defendant refused, neglected and failed to pay his premium which was calculated to be in the sum of N1,987,343.42.
Consequently, the plaintiff wrote a complaint letter to the Honourable Commissioner of National Insurance Commission of Nigeria, reporting the refusal of the defendant to pay him his premium.
He prayed the court for a declaration that it was wrong, improper, and amounted to a breach of contract for the defendant to have refused to pay to him, the sum of N1,987,343.42 (One Million Nine Hundred and Eighty-Seven Thousand Three Hundred and Forty-Three Naira, Forty-Two Kobo) which the defendant ought to have paid to him, upon the maturity of the insurance contract, with policy No: 12028081 executed by both parties.
However, in a counter affidavit filed before the court, AIICO Insurance company, denied almost all the claims of the plaintiff, stating that the claimant took out a bi-annual endowment insurance policy in 2007 with policy number 12028081.
The policy was for a period of 15 (fifteen years) and mature in April, 2022.
By the said policy, the defendant was obliged to pay a premium of N581,571 bi-annually from April 2007 till April 2022, with a sum assured of N10,000,000 (Ten Million Naira) at maturity.
It’s stated that under the policy, the claimant is at liberty to make a 25% partial withdrawal after five years, the claimant is also at liberty to make a 25% partial withdrawal after 10 years and make a full withdrawal of the sum assured N10,000,000 fifteen years;(Ten Million Naira) plus a 3% reversionary bonus at maturity i.e. 15 years.
The above benefits are only available to the claimant if he services the policy as and when due i.e. the claimant must be paying his premium of N581,571 every six months.
It added that the claimant breached the contract between him and the defendant when he decided to pay his premium in bits as opposed to the bi-annual payment in the contract between them; after the payment of the sum of N85,000 in January, 2008, the claimant refused to service the policy until three years later in 2011 and after the 2011 premium payment, the claimant refused to service the insurance policy.
AIICO stated further that sometime in 2008, the claimant requested for the status of his policies with the defendant and by a letter dated July 14, 2008, the defendant responded that the claimant’s policy No. 12028081 was in force.
However, the bi-annual premium was overdue for payment.
In 2011, the claimant further approached the defendant to know the state of his policy and the defendant responded via a letter dated 12th May, 2011 where the defendant further explained that the policy has lapsed and cannot be surrendered.
The defendant advised the claimant to reinstate the policy by paying the outstanding premium of N4,070,997.
The claimant refused to pay the outstanding premium of N4,070,997 above but paid the sum of N353,996, N250,000 and N215,205 which were not sufficient to reinstate the lapsed policy.
The claimant, again, made a request to know the state of his policy and the defendant responded via a letter dated 4th January, 2013 wherein the claimant was informed that his outstanding premium was N5,826,650.51.
The defendant stated that the assertion of the claimant that he was involved in a fatal motor accident is an afterthought.
The claimant made the assertion for the first time in his affidavit and the defendant was not notified of same.
It added that the claimant is not entitled to any sum at all as the claimant refused to pay the bi-annual premium, as agreed at the inception of the contract.
“The Claimant did not keep to his side of the contract. The Claimant is in arrears of the sum of N15,813,783 in outstanding premiums, as stated in the Endowment contract; Defendant explained the circumstances of the wrong posting to the Claimant and same had been rectified.
“The Claimant’s policy with the Defendant had lapsed and the Claimant is not entitled to any sum under the policy; The Claimant wrote a Petition to the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) against the Defendant”, the Defendant stated.
The defendant also stated that it responded to the allegations of the claimant contained on his letter to NAICOM and the claimant is having a copy of the defendant’s response.
The claimant did not wait for the outcome of his Petition to NAICOM before approaching this Honourable Court, despite receiving the defendant’s response.
The claimant has not exhausted all domestic fora before approaching this Honourable Court; and there is no material before this Honourable Court warranting the grant of the prayers sought by the claimant.
AIICO urged the court to strike out the suit in the interest of justice.