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2009-08-21:News Reports for August 20,2009 -- 001

The Great Bank Robbery: Soludo Company Owes Bank N32bn

By Moyo Fabiyi

In what has been described as the ‘Great Bank Robbery’, the immediate past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo has been fingered as the chairman of African Finance Corporation, which is owing Oceanic Bank N32 billion.

Emerging facts on the five troubled banks have revealed that Prof. Soludo was chairman of African Finance Corporation Board during his tenure as the boss of Nigerian’s apex bank, the CBN. And it was alleged he might have used his position to secure the N32 billion loan for the company.

Other companies and personalities mentioned in Oceanic Bank’s N278 billion non-performing loan include Notore Chemical Industries Limited, formerly National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria, NAFCON, whose chairman is Nigeria’s former military ruler, General Yakubu Gowon.

•Chukwuma Soludo

Also linked with the agro-allied company is the immediate past governor of Delta State, James Ibori whose proxy, Henry Imasekha, is a director of Notore. The company also owes Oceanic Bank N32 billion.

Another major debtor of Oceanic Bank is Rahamaniya Global Service owned by Abdulrahman Musa Bashir who is owing N28 billion. L V Development owned by Michael Onasanya owes N2.7billion while Dangote Industries owned by Alhaji Aliko Dangote owes N2.5 billion.

The new CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, on Friday sacked the Chief Executive Officers (CEO) and the management of five banks. They are Oceanic Bank, Intercontinental Bank, Afribank, FinBank and Union Bank. The sacked helmsmen and management of the five troubled banks have been replaced with new ones. The action, CBN said, was to save the troubled banks from imminent collapse.

Mallam Sanusi, who assumed office as the new CBN governor, not only enjoys the support of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the Presidency announced total support for the action of the new CBN boss to sanitize the banking industry.

In different national dailies, the CBN yesterday published the names of companies and their owners with the amounts they are owing the five troubled banks. This has, however, generated a lot of controversy between the apex bank and the alleged debtors. While making face-saving statements, the CEOs of debtor companies have denied the billions of naira credited against their names.

However, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has issued a one-week ultimatum to the companies mentioned to pay up the non-performing loans or go to jail.

The chairman of the anti-graft agency, Mrs. Farida Waziri, who issued the deadline in Abuja has also ordered the companies’ executives to report at the commission’s office or they will be arrested.

Meanwhile, security agents across the country have been put on the alert to forestall the escape of any of the CEOs of the five troubled  banks or owners of the debtor companies who may attempt to flee the country.

The security alert at the ports became imperative as security men foiled an attempt by the former CEO of Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru to fly out of the country in a private jet allegedly owned by Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim.

Apart from the debtor-companies announced, the new CBN boss said the list of more debtors will be made public soon, thus making it necessary for security operatives to keep their eyes on all suspected beneficiaries of non-performing loans before they escape from the country.

Source:PM News

 

…Akingbola Defies EFCC; How He Escaped To London

By Tokunbo Olajide

Erastus Akingbola, the sacked boss of Intercontinental Bank Plc, has defied the order of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to report to its office in Abuja.

Akingbola is one of the five managing directors of banks the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido sacked last week Friday over sharp practices in their banks that have resulted in unpaid debts running into hundreds of billions of naira.

•Eratus Akingbola

Rather than honour EFCC’s invitation, Akingbola is said to have stayed back in London where he was believed to have sneaked to last Friday when he got wind of his impending sack..

A close aide of the top banker confided in P.M. News that Akingbola left the country for the United Kingdom in the evening of last Friday before the news of his sack could spread to the public domain.

He managed to escape being intercepted by security agents who apparently, at the time, were not unaware of his travails.

Since his sack last week, the embattled banker has not been seen at his residence in Lagos, fuelling speculations that he stayed back in London to avoid being arrested.

Before the banking shake-up last Friday, P.M.News gathered that Akingbola had planned to attend the wedding of his cousin in London. So, when the bubble burst, and he got wind of his sack, he decided to stay back in the UK.

There are indications that he may not return to Nigeria soon in view of the axe that is dangling over his head.

It was gathered that even if he decides to leave London, his next port of call may be Ghana where he owns a mansion and frequently visited while he called the shots at Intercontinental Bank.

The EFCC has already declared wanted Akingbola along with other sacked bank CEOs and directors yet to report to the anti-graft agency, but the erstwhile Intercontinental boss has gone to court to challenge his sack by the CBN.

Akingbola, who was very influential as a top banker, is the President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and a Vice President of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Source:PM News 

 

Bank debtors panic - Bank chiefs relocate families abroad -Buy $1 million mansion in Canada -As Afribank recovers N3bn -CBN promises to release more names -Seeks foreign, local investors for troubled banks

From Odidison Omankhanlen, Gbola Subair and Lanre Oyetade, with Agency Report- 21.08.2009

THREATS by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to deal decisively with bank debtors have begun to yield dividends as some of the debtors are rushing to pay up.

This is just as some bank chiefs had anticipated the whirlwind blowing through the banking sector now and relocated their families abroad.

Some of the bank officials, who knew that the bubble would soon burst, started relocating their families to Canada since 2008, using the opportunity of the country’s federal skilled worker/business class programme which gave them the opportunity to secure Canada permanent residency.

Notable among them are two officers of Intercontinental Bank, whose families currently reside in Richmond Hill, one of the most expensive areas of Toronto, where the said officials recently bought houses worth $1,000,000 and luxury cars for their wives.

The wife of one of the bank officials, who hails from the Eastern part of Nigeria, is a very popular member of Christ Embassy Church in Toronto and drives around town in a brand new Toyota Sequia Jeep worth $100,000.

However, as the news of the sack of CEOs of five banks and imminent EFCC’s involvement in the matter became known, families of the bankers have withdrawn from all public activities in the North American country and resorted to spiritual help from some clergymen to protect their spouses who are officials of some of the affected banks.

Meanwhile, some Nigerians abroad who have money and investments in some of the affected banks have started to return home to recover their assets while urging the CBN to make good use of the EFCC to recover the bank’s bad debts. They commended the new CBN boss for taking prompt action to save the banking sector from collapse.

In another development, Nigerian Tribune investigations in the affected banks revealed that, in spite of several denials and disputations, the debtors have begun to pay up with some others making frantic enquiries with the respective banks, with a view to paying back their owed debts.

Briefing newsmen in Lagos, on Thursday, the new acting Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Afribank, Mr. Nebolisa Arah, stated that a few hours after the CBN made the debtors’ list public, one of the debtors paid N1 billion, adding that two of the debtors had also promised to pay N2 billion and N100 million respectively before the close of the day’s work.

According to Arah, the debtors would have no hiding place, as all efforts would be made to recover debts owed the banks, adding that the banks, regulators and relevant security agencies had the mandate to recover the debts.

A source in Union Bank, who pleaded anonymity, told the Nigerian Tribune that many debtors also made enquires with a view to paying their debts, stressing, however, that none of the corporate debtors had come forward.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri, told newsmen, on Thursday, that the anti-graft agency decided to get tough with the debtors, because of the urgent need to salvage the financial sector from total collapse and restore discipline to it.

The EFCC boss said the opportunity of repayment of the loans within seven days was to enable the borrowers to either pay through bank drafts or cheques in the name of the Federal Government.

She warned that it was in the interest of the debtors to comply with the directive rather than wait for arrest and prosecution.

“I will advise the debtors whose names had already been published by the Central Bank of Nigeriia to take advantage of this ultimatum by issuing their cheques and drafts in the name of EFCC for proper and coordinated recovery after which we restitute by returning the funds to the appropriate banks,” Waziri said.

A breakdown of the loans, which are classified as non-performing, is as follows: Oceanic Bank Plc, N278.204 billion or 37 per cent; Intercontinental Bank Plc, N210 .903 billion or 28 per cent; Afribank Nigeria Plc, N141.856 billion or 19 per cent; Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, N73.582 billion or 9.8 per cent; and FinBank Plc, N42.445 billion or 5.6 per cent.

But the CBN has said that it will soon come out with the list of chronic bank debtors.

The apex bank, in a press statement issued by its Corporate Affairs Unit, stated that Nigerians and the world at large should expect the release of more names of debtors.

According to the statement, the names of bank debtors/loan defaulters were being compiled and would be published on a regular basis.

On the furore generated by the release of the names of the first batch of debtors, the CBN told debtors/ loan defaulters disputing the quantum of debt listed against them to approach their respective banks to reconcile their books.

The CBN, which said the amounts listed against their names were as of 31 May, 2009, said if any of the defaulters/debtors had made any payment after this date, they should sort it out with the relevant banks.

It will be recalled that the apex bank, on Tuesday, released names of prominent Nigerians, which, it said, were indebted to five banks, to the tune of N747 billion.

On the list were firms in which billionaires, Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola, were said to have substantial interests, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria, whose chairman is the Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, among many others, mentioned.

It also noted that there were some typographical errors regarding the titles of some government officials and some companies, commenting, For instance, that the title “Accountant General” under Intercontinental Bank Plc list, should have read “Accountant General of Zamfara State,” while the name “Delta State Government,” under the Oceanic Bank list, should read “Delta Steel Company.”

A statement signed by the CBN spokesman, Alhaji M. M. Abdullahi, and made available to the Nigerian Tribune added that the bank regretted any embarrassment caused as a result of the typos.

Meanwhile, Nigeria will ask local and foreign banks and investors to bid for the ownership of five banks whose chief executive officers were fired after a Central Bank audit found the institutions had been mismanaged, its governor said.

Once the bank has finished its audit of 21 of the banks, expected by mid-September, it will “invite expressions of interest” from private-sector operators “as quickly as possible,” Governor Lamido Sanusi said in an interview at the sidelines of a conference in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa.

Sanusi fired the CEOs of Afribank Nigeria Plc, Intercontinental Bank Plc, Oceanic Bank International Plc, Union Bank Nigeria Plc and Finbank Plc last Friday after a Central Bank audit found the lenders were in a “grave situation” and their management had acted in a manner “detrimental to the interests.

Source:Nigerian Tribune

 

Manufacturers spend N1.8bn weekly on diesel -As operating cost rises

Gbola Subair, Abuja - 21.08.2009

Manufacturers operating in the Nigeria business environment have disclosed that more than N1.8 billion is being spent weekly as the operating environment gets tougher.

Also, the manufacturers, unanimously, agreed that infrastructural problem, more than fiscal factors, was their greatest headache as they carried out their day-to-day activities.

The manufactures, who operate under different trade associations like the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI), told the Nigerian Tribune that the major problem facing the manufacturing sector was the lack of power, occasioned by the total collapse of the power sector.

According to the operators, the consistent rise in the cost of diesel to power electricity generating plants in the factories across the country is alarming.

They described as intolerable, a situation where the price of diesel had risen from between N85 and N90, to between N98 and N108 per litre, an increase of more than 10 per cent, at a time that the Nigerian economy was still struggling to cope with the effects of the global economic meltdown.

However, in Abuja , the producers disclosed that that the pump price of diesel was currently between N100 and N105 per litre, adding that for some days, it would not be available.

Mr. Kolawole Ade-bayo, who has an agro allied firm in Kuje, told the Nigerian Tribune that the situation had deteriorated to the point that his 30-staff workfoce had to be trimmed down to 10 because of the high cost of production, occasioned by lack of electricity.

A member of MAN and chief executive of a paint company, Chief Joseph Akpan, disclosed that many of the association members had closed shop, while some had relocated to other countries with better operating environment, to continue their businesses.

He disclosed that the volume of diesel consumed daily in Nigeria was currently put at between 12 million and 13 million litres.

Source:Nigerian Tribune

 

Corruption growing bigger everyday in Nigeria –Kumuyi  


From LAMBERT TYEM, Abuja
Friday, August 21, 2009

Photo: The Sun Publishing


The Federal Government has been told to redouble its effort in tackling the problem of power and corruption in the country.
General Superintendent of Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor William F. Kumuyi, who made this call on Thursday in Abuja during a visit to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mallam Mammud Yayale Ahmed, noted that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) was watching with keen interest events in the present administration. He charged the government to put more efforts in key areas of the economy.

Pastor Kumuyi, who said his visit to the SGF was informed by what was going on currently in the country, lauded government over its prompt attention to recent crises in some parts of the country and the enthronement of rule of law.
He also said the problem of militancy in the Niger Delta region has further impacted negatively on the nation’s image abroad, stressing that “those of us who travel a lot to some parts of the world, once you appear before the immigration and they see Nigeria passport they scrutinise and look as if we are all criminals.

“As we see to the progress of the country, we are asking that you look into the power sector so that our economy will become buoyant again. Our electoral reforms too need more attention and this war against corruption we’ve been fighting but it looks like the monster of corruption is growing bigger every day.
“I believe that there is something we can do. Others have done it and we can do it too. Of course, majority of our people are looking up to the government. Poverty should be addressed. Unemployment, education sector, enlightenment of the people, among others should be addressed,” Pastor Kumuyi requested.
While welcoming his visitor, the SFG thanked the man of God for the visit, saying the root of the nation’s problem was lack of moral upbringing despite long history of being religious.
He called on Pastor Kumuyi and other men of God in the country to pray for the nation as well preach peace, and unity at all times.

Source: The Sun

 

Why I rejected oil coy’s $1b offer -Prof, who invented anti-corrosive paint


By Moshood Adebayo, Abeokuta
Friday
, August 21, 2009


•Prof Uwemedimo
Photo: The Sun Publishing

For Professor Clement John Uwemedimo, the sum of $1 billion is too small for his intellectual prowess. He has therefore urged President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to protect the rights and intellectual properties of Nigerians. He spoke against the background of his invention, Anti-Corrosive Paint which today is being used by many oil companies in Nigeria and beyond.

The renowned inventor, who spoke in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State during a one-day sensitization workshop, said such a protection would help the actualization of the seven- point agenda and the Millennium Development Goals of the administration.

Anti-corrosive special paint which is the first and only enabling chemical that allows extraction and exploration of crude oil, condensate, liquefied natural gas and barrelled gas all over the world was invented by Uwemedimo in 1980.

The scientist who is a recipient of the Certificate of Patent from the Federal Government on the special paint also explained why he rejected a $1 billion offer to buy his Patent Certificate by an oil company in Nigeria.
According to him: "It would have amounted to selling one’s birth right, honour, sovereignty, dignity and pride if I have to sell the patent which was a product of my being a Nigerian. Posterity will not forgive me, if I have to accept that peanut against the earlier agreement that I would be paid $2 daily as royalties per barrel of every article.

Going down memory lane, Uwemedimo, who hails from Eket in Akwa Ibom State, said he suffered greatly before the invention materialized adding that he almost became blind.
"It was through the grace of God that I am seeing now. For almost 10 years after the invention, I found it difficult to see because of the salty nature of water where I worked during the invention. Yet those companies that are using results of my efforts have refused to pay me royalties since".
"I have not only been denied the proceeds from the invention, but Nigeria and Nigerians who have benefited from the proceeds have also been denied this proceed for the past 29 years. Unhindered and arrogantly too, they continue to cheat on Nigeria’s wealth and people".

Uwemedimo promised to inject proceeds of his invention into building Nigeria’s economy. "I will definitely insulate our economy from any economic meltdown, recession, etc. That’s why I am appealing to Nigerians to buy into my ideas by supporting my struggle. "I will build 400 new towns across the country as well as provide unparalled employment in the country", this is a promise and covenant with Nigeria and Nigerians that I am part of”. He told the participants that attempts had been made on his life in the past. "They (those who did not want to pay me royalty) wanted me dead. Attempts have been made on my life. They want me to die so that there will be nobody to tell Nigerians that they have rights over their oil.

"If we have no right over our oil, what else do we have right over? I will stand on my feet for the struggle over my invention. “I have suffered persecution because of my struggle to get what rightly belongs to me. Two weeks ago, they kidnapped my daughter, beat her up and left her almost dead. They have made several attempts on my life too. They have also tried to kidnap me too, but they always failed because God is on my side”.
“They kidnapped my daughter last February and I had to pay heavily, because she could be released. They said they were looking for me. I don’t know my sin. I don’t know that invention is a crime”.

Source:The Sun

 

Just come and pay, EFCC boss tells loan defaulters


By UCHE USIM
Friday, August 21, 2009

Photo: The Sun Publishing

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Mrs Farida Waziri has assured Nigerians that those behind the non-performing loans in some commercial banks in the country will be made to pay up to the last dime.

She expressed shock that the five banks, whose managing directors and board were recently sacked, could approve loans of such magnitude without adequate collateral.
Fielding questions from aviation correspondents in Lagos on Thursday, the EFCC boss assured that the anti-graft agency would not relent in its efforts to sanitise the financial sector of the economy, adding that the recent development had exposed a lot of rot in the system.

On the claims by some of the defaulters that the debt they owed was over-blown by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Waziri said: “There is no discrepancy in the figures quoted by the CBN as it affects what the persons mentioned owe the banks. There is nothing like discrepancy. If there is, it is either you are owing, whatever amount you claim to be owing, you will come and pay. We will meet with the bank and reconcile there, but the important thing is that you are owing, so just come and pay”, she said.

On measures to be put in place by the EFCC and the banks to ensure the debtors complied before the CBN ultimatum expired, she said: “Well they have no choice, they have to comply. Do not forget, we and other concerned agencies are working together. It is a very serious matter pertaining to the economy and the entire country as a whole. Nigerians are watching, the international community is watching, we are working with other agencies, the Nigeria Police, security and exchange commission, NDIC, all hands are on deck. There is no way that we will not accomplish this task of recovering this money, it is a shock to me and I never realized that any bank, anywhere in the world will give such magnitude of money without any collateral, I’m learning it for the first time, it is amazing to me,” she stated.

On how many of the ex- bank chiefs the agency had arrested so far, the EFCC boss stated that most of them had been arrested but noted that one of them travelled overseas:
“Well, one is outside the country and the others are with us. We will give feed back on those that have paid, I will be briefing the media soon to remove the names of those that have paid. The other security agencies are right inside the banks now, they are working, by next week I’ll give update.”
On the recent submission of the United States Secretary of State, Mrs Hilary Clinton, that the EFCC’s fight against corruption had waned in the last one year, the EFCC boss said the matter had been over-flogged, stressing that the agency believes that its actions speak louder than words.
“We do not need to be talking about it, action speaks louder than words, it has been over-flogged. It is enough, we should leave it at that.”

Waziri also solicited the support of the media to help achieve EFCC’s quest for special courts.
She lamented that the judiciary had continually made the job of the agency more tedious and slower, thus making it look as if the commission was not working.

“The judiciary is one area we need the support of the media because of the frivolous court interlocutory injunctions given by judges all the time. This stalls our cases. Judges should put down their feet and ensure that this distraction is stopped. Imagine the case of Madoff in the United States, the case was dispensed with within two weeks; what about O.J Simpson’s? It was double murder, the case was dispensed with within two years, why can’t we have cases fast tracked within the shortest possible time here in Nigeria? That is why I’m still appealing for special courts because of the nature of judiciary in this country. It is people who do not want to face reality that attack the EFCC. They like to blackmail the EFCC at various times. We need the support of everybody in this war against  corruption to succeed,” she said.

Source:The Sun 

 

Badagry-Lagos, it’s one hell of a trip

By Fredrick Okopie

IT  was a journey that was estimated to last 30 minutes, all things being equal. But as far as travelling from the ancient town of Badagry to the bus terminal at Mile 2 is concerned things can never be equal in that context.

That is why no one raises an eyebrow these days when asked to pay  N200 as fare by commercial motorists operating that route even  when the situation does not warrant it such as  a heavy downpour or unexpected hike in petroleum products.

police460

But no thanks to constant traffic gridlock at the Okokomaiko, Iyana Oba and First Gate Bus-stops on any given day, the journey usually lasts about two and half hours.

This was the experience of Vanguard Metro recently. After the 18-seater Hiace bus our reporter boarded left the Badagry park, it was not long before the reason behind the traffic bottlenecks began to unfold.

As the bus  made its way through the Mile 2/ Badagry expressway to Agbara its first bus-stop to discharge three of the commuters, Vanguard Metro counted 13 checkpoints of mobile and regular policemen.

At each of these checkpoints, the driver would signal with a wink  to his conductor, followed by a muttered  “two white” which translates to mean that the police men manning the checkpoint be given  N100.

police2460

Police men, of the Mobile variety(MOPOL) at some check-points, according to the driver, demand more than N100 since they consider themselves special. Indeed the vehicle was flagged down at two of such checkpoints and the driver “settled” accordingly.

But the driver was able to outsmart some checkpoint police men and escaped being stopped and parting with some cash.

But where the usually ubiquitous road transport union revenue collectors are concerned, the driver was never smart enough; they always succeeded in  stopping the vehicle and collecting what was due to them, whether legally or illegally.

The driver’s frequent but impotent grumblings that this would affect his daily delivery did not make any difference to them.

At a time when the driver breathed a sigh of relief, he met a rude shock at the front of Okokomaiko Police Station. A young man dressed in shorts and T-shirt, under the supervision of a taciturn soldier in a sentry position, cradling a rifle, only had to use use his eyes to communicate or command and the driver immediately obeyed by parting with some money…

Source: Vanguard

 

EFCC vows to hold on to arrested bank CEOs

By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor, Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief,  Kenneth Ehigiator, Prince Osuagwu & Emma Ovuakporie
LAGOS—

The drama and war of words over the sack of five banks’ boards and managing directors; and the subsequent publication of a list of debtors by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, continued yesterday, with the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs Farida Waziri, vowing that the arrested executives would not be released until all the debts have been recovered, even as the apex bank said it would soon release list of more debtors.

Also, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, has directed Permanent Secretaries to ensure that ministries, departments and agencies do not withdraw funds or close their accounts in the five banks where the Central Bank of Nigeria effected some changes.

Chairman, EFCC, Mrs Farida Waziri, vows that the arrested executives would not be released

Chairman, EFCC, Mrs Farida Waziri, vows that the arrested executives would not be released

Meanwhile some of the bank debtors have continued their vehement dispute of the debt profiles published against them by the CBN while the erstwhile  management of Oceanic Bank petitioned President Umaru Yar’Adua, alleging malice.

In another development, the CBN issued a statement asking those disputing their debts to reconcile with their banks.

Waziri vows

Mrs Waziri who spoke at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, said also that there was no discrepancy between what appeared on the list of banks’ debtors and what they actually owed, noting that those owing have no choice but to pay up as soon as possible.

“There is no discrepancy in the figures quoted by the CBN as they affect what the persons mentioned owe the banks. There is nothing like discrepancy, if there is, it is either you are owing, whatever amount you claim to be owing and you will come and pay.

“We will meet with the banks and reconcile them, but the important thing  is that you are owing , just come and pay. They have no choice, they have to comply.  Do not forget we are working together with other relevant agencies on the matter.

“It is a very serious matter pertaining to the economy and the entire country as a whole. Nigerians are watching , the international community is watching and we are working with other agencies, the Nigeria Police, Security and Exchange Commission, NDIC, etc. All hands are on deck, there is no way   that we will not accomplish this task of recovering this money.

“It is a shock to me; I never realised that any bank  anywhere in the world will give such magnitude of money without any collateral. I  am learning about it for the first time, it is amazing to me.

“The other security agencies are right inside the banks now. They are  working, and by next week, I will give an update.”

She said only one of the bank chiefs who was outside the country at the time of the CBN revelation was not with the EFCC.

According to her, names of those who have paid up their debts will be de-listed as soon as they pay up their debts.
“ Well, one is outside the country, and the others are with us. We will give feed back on those that have paid. I will be briefing the media to remove the names of those that have paid, but they are speculating that one escaped abroad,” Mrs Waziri said.

On the recent statement by the United States Secretary of State, Mrs Hillary Clinton, the EFCC boss said events had overtaken the development, as the anti- graft agency had demonstrated that “action speaks louder than words. We do not need to be talking about it, action speaks louder than words. It has been over flogged, it is enough, we should leave it at that.”

On how the EFCC is gaining the sympathy of Nigerians, she said : “ Many Nigerians now believe in us, gradually, we will get there.”

On how, the judiciary should assist the EFCC, Mrs Waziri said:   “ This is one area where we need the support of the media because of the frivolous court interlocutory injunctions given by judges.

“All the time, this stalls our cases. Judges should put down their feet and ensure that this distraction is stopped.

Imagine the case of Madoff in the United States, the case was dispensed with within two weeks. What about O.J Simpson’s?   It was double murder and the case was dispensed with within two years. Why can’t we have cases fast-tracked , within the shortest possible time?

“That is why, I am still appealing for special courts because of the nature of the judiciary in this country. It is people who do not want to face reality that attack the EFCC. They like to blackmail the EFCC when the passports of indicted people are released. We need the support of every body in this war against corruption.”

Mrs. Waziri said the anti-graft agency would not allow itself to be frustrated by the antics of people who want the status quo of corruption to subsist in the country.

More names of debtors coming– CBN

Meanwhile, The CBN yesterday in Abuja, said more names of those owing the five banks whose Managing Directors were removed last Friday, would soon be released.

The apex bank sacked the bank chief executives for incompetence on debt management and consequently injected N400billion to boost their operations.

The affected banks are Intercontinental Bank, Oceanic Bank, Union Bank, Finbank and Afribank.

According to the statement, the banks are exposed to the capital market to the tune of N500billion out of the N800billion exposure by all the banks.

The CBN said the capital market lost more than 70 per cent of value in stocks in less than a year from 2008 and 2009, making the banks to fall short of standard.

The sack of the chief executives was followed by a publication of individual and company names of debtors to the banks, in which many prominent business magnates featured.

However, the CBN in the statement, admitted errors in the titles of some agencies indebted to the banks.
“Meanwhile, more lists of other debtors and defaulters are being compiled and will be published in due course,”  a statement from the regulatory body said.

CBN asks debtors with doubtful figures to reconcile

In a related development, the apex bank has asked banks’ debtors who disagree with the published debt figures to reconcile with the affected banks.

“The general public and all concerned should note that the list published is as at 31st May, 2009 and if any of the defaulters/debtors have made any repayments after that date, they should sort it out with the relevant bank”, it said in a brief statement.

It also corrected what it said was an error in the title “Accountant General” under Intercontinental Bank Plc list, which it said should read “Accountant General of Zamfara State” while the name “Delta State Government” under the Oceanic Bank list, should read “Delta Steel Company.

Mobitel faults CBN on list of debtors

The management of Mobitel Nigeria limited, yesterday faulted the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN on the list of debtors that resulted in the sack of five bank managing Directors.

The telecommunications company, said that going by the inconsistencies on the list, a proper probe should be conducted to find out if people did not use the opportunity to get at their perceived enemies.

Mobitel was actually reacting to its inclusion in the list of debtors linking it to about N1.3b debt to Intercontinental Bank.

Spokesperson of the company, Mr Okon Iyanan, told Vanguard that contrary to the CBN’s list of debtors, Mobitel had cleared every outstanding debt to Intercontinental Bank as far back as 2008, and did not see reason why the company’s name would be linked to such a damaging scenario playing out in the banking sector now.

According to Iyanam, “ I think that somebody wants to use this opportunity to get at their perceived enemies or how can one say that Mobitel is still owing a bank that has given its duly executed Deed of Release in line with the settlement arrangement.

“As a matter of fact, we also have a letter written by the bank to that effect, which dated as far back as August 2008. In fact some of the things happening in this country is to say the least, terrible.”

A copy of the letter allegedly written by Intercontinental Bank to Mobitel, made available to Vanguard, confirmed that the company was in the clear to any indebtness to the bank.

The letter dated August 8, 2008 and signed by two Loan Recovery officials of the bank, Kehinde Okelade and Ifeanyi Onyimadu, read in part “ we acknowledge the receipt of your Skye bank draft for the sum of 1000,000,000.00 being the full and final settlement of your company’s outstanding indebtedness to the bank. Further to the above, please find attached, 8 copies of the Deed of Release duly executed by the bank in line with the settlement arrangement.”

However, efforts to get the Corporate Affairs of the bank to confirm if the bank actually did get value of the draft proved abortive as the phones rang without anybody picking them

Otedola reacts, too

Mr. Femi Otedola, in his reaction said his alleged indebtedness to Union Bank to the tune of N6 billion, in an advertorial by the Central Bank of Nigeria was caused by huge losses as a result of the slump in oil price from $147 to $36, coupled with the devaluation of the naira.

According to him: “When we sold the oil, exchange rate was N116 to the dollar but when we wanted to repurchase the dollar, the exchange rate had gone up to N156 to the dollar. That variation alone created a massive loss on us. But Zenon being a responsible corporate entity entered discussions with Union Bank on the issue. We decided to take our loss in our stride.And as at July 29th, Zenon Petroleum and Gas paid the sum of N3billion into the account of Union Bank which was acknowledged by the bank.”

He further declared that all his loans are fully collaterised, adding ” it bears restating here that Zenon will always fulfil its obligations to its bankers and creditors.”

Oceanic Bank petitions President

Oceanic Bank under the management of Dr. Cecilia Ibru has raised a petition to the President, alleging that “the conclusion in the context of section 33 is therefore premature, smacks of pre-emption of the examination results and would support the view that the CBN Governor already had a mind-set on the issue and was only justifying a preconceived course of action by ordering an inspection.”

In the petition by R. Ajibola Oluyede  TRLPLAW, Lagos, the petitioner stated that Section 35 of BOFI prescribes that the CBN must be satisfied that the bank examined under section 33 “is in a grave situation as regards the matters referred to in section 33(1) of the Act” before the CBN Governor can exercise the power to order “for reasons to be recorded in writing” the removal of any manager, officer or director of the bank examined

The petition further said: “Our client is being punished because of its heavy support for the importation of petroleum products, which is an essential commodity, and without such support could have become scarce and result in political upheaval.

To ensure that the country has uninterrupted supply of petroleum products, banks finance importers of petroleum products. These importers are licensed and duly approved by PPPRA, an agency of the government, which issues importers with import quotas based on which it pays subsidies on imports of Kerosene and Petrol.

“Based on amounts advised by Oceanic Bank’s customers, over N20 billion is yet to be paid by PPPRA to these customers’ accounts with Oceanic Bank in respect of LCs dating as far back as December 2008. The bank has fully paid the overseas suppliers whilst PPPRA is over 8 months in arrears in reimbursing the bank. There was a letter from the Association of Major Marketers of petroleum products to the PPPRA advertised on page 16 of the Punch newspaper of Tuesday 18th August 2009, which confirms that PPPRA owes members of their association over N70 billion. How are the banks that have in good faith supported the government’s petroleum subsidy programme to be held responsible for the delay by PPPRA  to pay?”

HOS tells permsecs not to move funds

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, has told Permanent Secretaries to ensure compliance with the directive issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to ministries, departments and agencies not to withdraw funds or close their accounts in the five banks where the Central Bank of Nigeria effected some changes.

Mr. Oronsaye said this when he met with all Federal Permanent Secretaries yesterday in Abuja .

He reiterated his earlier statement that the action of the CBN was to pre-empt any chaotic situation and the injection of funds into them has stabilized the liquidity problem that might have arisen in the banks.

He urged the Permanent Secretaries to ensure that normal banking transactions are carried out between the banks and all MDAs and to further enlighten their staff members on the facts of the situation.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, had last Monday, issued a circular advising MDAs not to move their accounts from the affected banks.  This measure was also endorsed by the Federal Executive Council at its meeting on Wednesday.

Source:Vanguard

 

Challenges For Onovo

FOR the first time in a long while, the appointment of the new Inspector General of Police not only followed due process but also resulted in the selection of the most qualified, competent and one of the most respected in the top echelon of the Nigeria Police – Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo.

Merit and competence counted above other criteria. We commend President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua for eschewing ethnic, political and sectional considerations in making this appointment. We also hope that henceforth, all appointments into the public service will emphasise merit and competence, for that is the only way to nudge the nation towards our stated goal of being one of the 20 most prosperous nations by 2020.

Onovo is a man uncommonly favoured by history. About two years ago, when his predecessor, Mr. Mike Okiro was appointed even though many had speculated that the seat was Onovo’s by seniority, the normal thing was for Onovo to be shifted out of the Force to give Okiro room to operate. Rather, Onovo was kept on the job. He took the temporary loss in extremely good faith.

He kept his head and cooperated with his new boss in the execution of his lawful duties.

This earned him a lot of respect not only from Okiro but also from the Presidency. That it took only a week for his acting appointment to be confirmed shows the esteem in which he is held at the highest level of the nation’s seat of power. Onovo deserves to revel in arriving at the destination with all the odds.

Appropriately, the riots in the North cut short his celebration. They introduced him to the onerous responsibilities ahead.

The first of these tasks is the high level of crime and insecurity pervading the land. Apart from the old crime of rampant robbery, there are new crimes like the ones on the internet, which pose more challenges.

Kidnapping is another new crime. From the Niger Delta where it started as a part of protests of the region’s neglect, it has assumed the ugly toga of criminality, and is gradually spreading to all parts of the country. The second is terrorism, fuelled both by internal and external interests.

The nation is just recovering from the Boko Haram crisis, which exploded in spite of many security warnings. Nigerians are looking up to Onovo and his men to arrest violent crimes while the nation pushes ahead with the implementation of the Police reforms.

Another important assignment that will test Onovo’s patriotism and abilities is the 2011 elections and other polls thereabout.  He has some time between now and then to prepare his officers and men for a civilised handling of the elections.

Onovo has to be mindful of the fact that his last three predecessors left the Force in less than dignifying circumstances. He must dare to be different. He must make the difference to a Force in which most Nigerians have lost faith.

Source:Vanguard

 

Don tasks Nigerians on selfless service, wealth creation


By CHRIS MBAH
Friday, August 21, 2009

A university don, Professor Sola Fajana, of the University of Lagos, has identified wealth creation, selfless service and God-fearing citizenship as panacea to Nigeria’s problem.
Prof Fajana of the Department of Industrial Relations, advised that Nigeria’s wealth, if properly managed, will make for a brighter future afterwards.

Fajana, who disclosed this at the Samuel Odunaike Memorial Lecture, organised by the Four Square Gospel Church in Nigeria, also said: “Wealth is to be created, it is not to be exploited. Any nation that builds her hope on inherited wealth is heading for collapse.”

Speaking on the topic of the lecture: Today’s Wealth, a Solution to Tomorrow’s Poverty, Fajana expressed the opinion that “Fundamentally, man is the key to economic problems. The problem is not money. Funds are valuable when used by devoted men and women.”

He outlined 10 master keys for Nigeria to unlock the doors of prosperity, sustain her wealth and promote social rapport, pointing out that leadership is action and not position.
Contributing, the Archbishop of Lagos Methodist Church and spiritual father of the day, Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Sunday Ajayi, said: “Nigeria have both human and natural resources required to move forward, but greed and misappropriation of funds are the reasons for her poverty.”

He revealed that what made the late Samuel Olusegun Odunaike outstanding, was his down-to-earth nature. “ He lived life in reality and showed that politics is not dirty, but people in it makes it seem so,” Bishop Ajayi said.

Earlier, General Overseer of Four Square Gospel Church, Rev. Dr. Wilson Badejo said the memorial lecture is aimed at promoting excellence and government at various levels to achieve their full potentials. He described late Samuel Odunaike as a leader, mentor, administrator, preacher and publisher.

Source:The Sun

 

Akingbola Flees to UK

•EFCC: Wrong figures no excuse •Ibru, Otedola fault CBN •Dangote Industries pays N3.1bn


By Ayo Aminu, Efem Nkanga, Akinwale Akintunde in Lagos and Yemi Akinsuyi in Abuja, 08.21.2009

 

 

Citing fears of harassment by the nation’s security agencies, the sacked Group Managing Director of the Intercontinental Bank Plc, Mr. Erastus Akingbola, has fled into self-exile, two days after returning to the country from the United Kingdom.
Akingbola, who was not in the country last Friday when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sacked him and the CEOs of four other banks, had spent the weekend in London to attend a wedding ceremony and returned to Nigeria on Monday.
He suddenly left the country again on Wednesday following the arrest and detention of the other CEOs by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which yesterday warned bank debtors that disputes over amounts owed and figures published by the CBN would not be taken as an excuse from them.
The EFCC had, on Wednesday, given the debtors a seven-day ultimatum to pay up of face prosecution by the anti-graft agency.
But some of the debtors accused of not servising their debts in a publication by the CBN have continued to fault the apex bank on the facts and figures published in the newspapers.
One of the advertised debtors, Dangote Industries Limited, said last night that it had paid Oceanic Bank N3.1 billion as part of its business relationship with the bank.
The company said in an SMS to THISDAY: “This serves as a follow-up statement to the statement issued by Dangote Industries Limited in reference to the CBN advertorial of 19th August, 2009, and specifically to the N2.5 billion listed as owing to Oceanic Bank Plc. Dangote Industries Limited issued a statement on 20 August 2009 to the fact that there was a dispute over the sum, and was working on a resolution with Oceanic Bank.
“Dangote Industries Limited wishes to state that we have ongoing business with Oceanic Bank and have made payment of N3.1 billion to the bank, receipt of which the bank has confirmed by letter to us. We reiterate our position that in the course of doing business it is normal for a group our size to partner with banks and other financiers to fund our growth as and when required.
“The banks charge for this service and in the course of doing business disputes may arise. Responsible organisations will enter into conversation to resolve any matters arising. Dangote Industires Limited have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate by our actions that we are responsible and professional, meeting all our obligations as and when due.”
The sacked CEO of Oceanic Bank, Mrs Cecilia Ibru, has also raised an objection to the CBN action and asked the apex bank to revert the decision.
Akingbola, sacked along with other CEOs for “being principal causes of financial instability in their banks and for acting in a manner that was detrimental to the interest of their depositors and creditors”, left Nigeria through one of the neighbouring countries.
A close aide of Akingbola, who confirmed this development to THISDAY yesterday, said the sacked bank chief had to leave the country to avoid harassment by the security operatives.
“Akingbola did not literarily flee the country. He had to leave to avoid being harassed and detained by the security operatives. You can see the way his colleagues are being harassed and intimidated by the EFCC. Despite all these embarrassment and harassments, they have not been able to establish any criminal charges against them,” the aide said. 
As at yesterday, three of the five sacked CEOs – Union Bank’s Bartholomew Ebong, FinBank’s Okey Nwosu and Afribank Nigeria Plc’s Sebastian Adigwe – along with the 16 top official of their subsidiaries were still being detained by the EFCC on suspicion of various crimes, including fraud and insider trading.
The Commission’s spokes-man, Femi Babafemi, confirmed to THISDAY that it was only the detained three were still in EFCC’s custody.
He said Akingbola and Ibru had not reported and that EFCC was still looking for them but had not declared them wanted.
Fielding questions from journalists at the protocol lounge of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, yesterday, the EFCC boss, Mrs Farida Waziri, said the commission was prepared to effect the arrest of defaulters at the expiration of the ultimatum.
“We have heard some of the debtors disputing the figures published by CBN. Our position on this is that they have to pay whatever they are claiming they owe first and after that we can sit down and reconcile the accounts. But I can assure you that we will not take any dispute on figures as an excuse from anybody. They don’t have to wait for us to start effecting their arrests before they begin to perform,” Waziri warned.
She said the EFCC would need the support of all stakeholders especially players in the banking sector, the judiciary and the media to achieve its goals.
She said: “No one can do it alone and that is why you see us working with SSS (State Security Service), CBN, SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), Police, NDIC (Nigeria Deposit Insurance Commission) and others to recover these huge funds that had been lost due to sharp practices in our banks.”
Meanwhile, Ibru yesterday appealed to Governor of the CBN to revert the order of August 14, 2009 which led to her removal from office.
The request came 24 hours after Akingbola approached the Federal High Court, Lagos, seeking for an order of Certiorari to quash his removal as the CEO.
Ibru’s request was contained in a letter written by her counsel, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, a managing partner in TRLPLAW & Co, contending that her dismissal was outright illegal and a miscarriage of justice.
Copies of the letter dated August 20, 2009 were forwarded to the President, Senate President, Speaker of House of Representative, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Inspector-General of Police, Director of SSS and EFCC Chairman.
The letter read: “Ibru and her management became aware of the CBN action from the same press briefing like other Nigerians. She complained that they were not given any opportunity to make representations to the apex bank or its governor before the order of August 14, 2009 made in pursuant of BOFIA (Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act).
“She and her management were not at anytime aware of this type of action neither were they informed when a special examination of their books and affairs were ordered under section 33 of BOFIA, nor where they privy of the findings of the investigators.
“There was a miscarriage of justice considering information that is now available. If CBN had followed the procedure envisaged by law as well as given the bank’s management an opportunity to respond to the findings of the investigators, there would not be any reason to dismiss her and executive directors.
“CBN breached the provisions of Section 33 of BOFIA which provides discretion of the CBN Governor in ordering a special examination or investigations of the books and affairs of a bank in which he must be satisfied upon the binding of that discretion.
“The CBN Governor’s reason for ordering investigation in the instant case, was because of the banks are heavy users of funds at EDW or drawn from other banks under cover of CBN and do not have the ability to meet their obligations to depositors and creditors as they are in grave situation.”
Her contention was hinged on the Section 33 (1) of BOFIA, which states that the CBN Governor “shall have power to order a special examination or investigation of the books and affairs of a bank where he is satisfied that it is the public interest so to do; the bank has been carrying on its business in a manner detrimental to the interest of its depositors and creditors; the bank has been contravening the provisions of the Act; and an application is made therefore by a director or shareholder of the bank or a depositor or creditor of the bank.”
It further stated that the reasons given by the CBN Governor for ordering the special investigations or examinations did not fall within the contemplations of Section 33 and that the reason given that the banks were in “grave situation” could not be a cause for ordering for a special investigation instead of being its result.
“It is her understanding that the grouping of managing directors and executive directors for purposes of this action without allowing each of them as constitutionally protected individuals to respond to the specific allegations against each person is unlawful.
“The bank and its management have been severely injured in their business and professional reputation by various aspersions direct and indirect that followed your action including their loss of livelihood.
“The threat of arrest, detention and restrictions on their movement are totally unjustifiable, illegal and appear designed to distract them from pursuing their enforcement of their rights. We demand an immediate reversal of the order of August 14, 2009 and the steps taken pursuant thereto,” the letter said.
Ibru thus demanded that all false innuendos and allegations of criminal behaviour attributed to her persons “including the declaration of your intention to put people in jail must stop henceforth”.
Yesterday, more listed debtors came out to deny CBN claims. They are Mr. Femi Otedola, Chairman of Zenon; African Petroleum (AP) Plc, of which Otedola is also chairman; Obat Oil and Petroleum Ltd; Mobitel; and Alhaji Alao Arisekola.
“As at July 29, Zenon Petroleum and Gas paid the sum of N3 billion into the account of Union Bank which was acknowledged by the bank,” Otedola said, adding that there are pending issues which were being discussed with the bank and that all the loans are fully collaterised.
AP, on its part, described as “incorrect and uninformed” the list published by the CBN, explaining that it normally collects money from Afribank to bring in petroleum products, while Afribank in return collects the sales from all of its filling stations across the country.
The Chief Operating Officer (COO), AP Plc, Mr. Tunde Falasinnu, in a statement yesterday, said it was wrong for the apex bank to claim that the  loan facility is non-performing when the bank directly collects all remittances from sales of products imported through a Facility Account operated by the company.

Source:ThisDay

 

Life Assurance: FG Votes N5bn for Workers’ Databank

From Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja, 08.21.2009

 

 

In a bid to develop a databank designed to monitor mortality trend of federal workers, Federal Government said yesterday it voted N5 billion to aid it in generating and analysing data that would be used in  the analysis of staff mortality  and to serve as a guide in negotiating yearly premium as part of government’s life assurance policy for workers.
In this wise, 24 insurance companies and 109 insurance brokers have been appointed to implement the project.
Speaking in Abuja at the flag-off of a one-day sensitisation workshop for civil servants on the group life assurance scheme for workers, Head of Service of the Federation, Mr Steve Oronsaye, said the database would keep a tab on the mortality trends of federal workers with a view to formulating policies that would ensure  that government derived maximum value for money in the implementation process of the scheme.
He  said government voted the sum of N5 billion  for the commencement of the scheme. Of this amount, N4 billion would be paid to a consortia of insurance companies  while the remaining N1 billion would be used  to pay the backlog of claims from 2004 when the scheme was supposed to have commenced simultaneously with the contributory pension scheme.
According to him, the life assurance policy   was  a bold move by  government  to ensure that an employee’s dependant received a compensation package of 300 per cent of his or her total emolument in the event of death while still in active service.

Making comparisons with   the contributory pension scheme which requires the employee to contribute certain percentage from his earnings, Oronsaye said the scheme did not provide for any contribution by the employee but rather financed entirely by the federal government.
He  noted that 24  insurance companies and 109 insurance brokers were appointed as underwriters and brokers respectively to implement the policy. He said Capital Express Insurance Company and Leverage Insurance were also appointed as coordinating/lead underwriter and coordinating/ lead broker respectively.Oronsaye, who spoke  through his Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Dr. Abdullahi Abubakar, affirmed that  the office of the Head of Service would regulate the scheme in the interim as a unified system until a proper databank for the programme was  developed,  maintaining that the training programme would be directed at addressing the human resource capacity development needed for the scheme..

“The scheme is presently coordinated by the office of the Head of the Service as a pilot programme for two years after which it will be decentralised to the ministries, departments and agencies for full implementation”, he said.

The group life assurance scheme is an offshoot of the National Pension Reform Act, Section 9 (3) which requires every employer of labor to maintain a life assurance policy in favour of his employees for a minimum of three times the annual emolument of the employee in the event of death in service. 


Source:ThisDay

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