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2009-08-22: News Reports for August 22,2009 -- 001

EFCC Freezes Accounts of Sacked Bank MDs

•Auditors invited for interrogation •Akingbola’s residence under surveillance
By Ayodele Aminu in Lagos and Yemi Akinsuyi in Abuja, 08.22.2009
 

The Economic and Financial Crime Commission has frozen the bank accounts of the managing directors of the five banks sacked last week.
The affected former MDs are Union Bank’s Bartholomew Ebong, FinBank's Okey Nwosu, Afribank’s Sebastian Adigwe, Intercontinental Bank's Erastus Akingbola and Oceanic Bank's Cecilia Ibru.
The external and internal auditors of the five banks have also been invited for interrogation by the EFCC.
Also yesterday, the commission mounted surveillance on the home of Akingbola in Ikoyi, Lagos in a bid to gather information about his movement.
According to a source at the EFCC office in Abuja, the accounts of the sacked MDs were frozen “so that they will not continue to have access to huge money while being investigated.”
The five banks MDs are said to operate accounts in different banks in the country with unspecified but large amounts.
Although, their foreign accounts were not affected by yesterday’s action, the EFCC source said that it was only a matter of time before their foreign accounts are frozen, wherever they might be.
"With money in their accounts, you and I know quite well that they would do and undo. But without money anywhere, intense and proper investigations would be conducted on them. We hope to arrest the remaining two banks chiefs in no time.”
The source said further: “Wherever they are, we will fish Mrs. Ibru and Erastus Akingbola out and they would be made to face the music they have been playing.
“We will ensure that not only their local accounts are frozen but also their foreign accounts.
“This will be done so as to properly prosecute them effectively and so that those suspected to have fled abroad would be left with nothing to bank on wherever they may be.
“We will ensure that sanity returns not only to the banking sector, but to every part of our economy.”
The EFCC's spokesperson, Femi Babafemi, who confirmed the story, said as event unfolds, members of the public would be furnished with more information.
The EFCC boss, Farida Waziri alleged that the auditors conspired with the erring bank MDs to defraud their banks.
She warned that if they do not all appear before the commission today, they would be declared wanted and this, she said, would further compound their problems.
“During our investigations, we found out that all the erring bank chief executives were given a clean bill to operate by both external and internal auditors who were paid to do so.
“It is sad to know that these auditors conspired with the bank MDs to commit the crime.
“Our officials are already out for them and anyone who fails to appear before the commission by tomorrow (today), will be declared wanted and would be made to face the music,” Waziri warned.
A close aide of Akingbola said officials of the commission have been parading the house of the former bank chief in Ikoyi, but are yet to enter the building.
He said: “To start with, Akingbola never fled the country. He actually travelled on medical grounds.
“They (EFCC) know Akingbola is not around and they are trying to break into his house when they have not established anything against him.
“They have taken photographs of his house and even went to the extent of writing the Registrar of Titles in Lagos to get more information about his house. “
The EFCC’s spokesman confirmed that Akingbola’s house was under surveillance “since the commission is still looking for him.”
 “It is also not unusual for anybody that has a case to answer to have his or her house and other known places where they go under surveillance,” he said.
In a bid to compel bank debtors of the five banks to pay up, the apex bank last Wednesday published the names of debtors – a development that triggered a string of protests by the companies and individuals whose names were published.
But Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs yesterday protested the inclusion of his name as “the majority shareholder/director” in respect of a loan granted to MTS First Wireless Limited by Union Bank.
A letter from his solicitor said: “Our client unequivocally denies any involvement whatsoever in the grant, issuance, disbursement or application of this loan either as a director, shareholder or majority shareholder of MTS.
“He therefore views the prominent display of his name with respect to this loan either as a grave error of judgement or a mischievous and malicious attempt by the bank to impugn his well earned reputation and reduce the esteem in which he is held in the society.”
Briggs’ lawyer said the loan facility for which the CBN publication listed MTS as a debtor customer of the bank was secured and expended to MTS in 2003, “three years before our client became a shareholder /director of MTS in 2006.”
The lawyer said Briggs was neither a shareholder nor director of MTS when it obtained and disbursed the loan with officials of the bank and as such cannot be personally liable in any manner whatsoever.

Source:Thisday

 

Bank Bailout: Nigeria’s Credit Rating Downgraded to B-plus

•We’ll defend Naira, says Sanusi
By Ayodele Aminu with agency report, 08.22.2009

 

 

Standard & Poor's yesterday cut Nigeria’s sovereign credit ratings by a notch to B-plus from BB-minus, citing its costly rescue package of N420 billion for five banks and falling oil revenues.
The downgrade in Nigeria’s ratings came on a day the Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said he will act to defend the nation’s currency should it come under “speculative attack” not warranted by developments in the economy.
Oil prices hit N147 per barrel last year but tumbled in the wake of the global economic downturn and currently stand at $74 per barrel.
S&P, the world's foremost provider of independent credit ratings, however said the rescue package for the five banks whose CEOs and executive directors were removed last week by the CBN could have a positive result.
In a statement, S&P said Nigeria has a stable outlook, stressing that the financial, economic and political risks are balanced by a strong external and fiscal balance sheet.
"The lowering of the sovereign rating on Nigeria reflects our view of the government's reduced fiscal flexibility due to costs associated with its recent bail-out of five large domestic banks, and also the fall-off in government oil revenue.
"In our opinion, the central bank's action has begun a welcome restructuring of Nigeria's banking system, but it also reveals deep problems in Nigeria's credit markets, with the extent of problem loans beyond our previous estimates," S&P said.
The downgrade in Nigeria's ratings, the cost of raising funds in the international markets by local firms in the country could rise given the risk involved.
S&P some months ago lowered Nigeria's ratings outlook to "negative" from "stable", citing falling oil revenues which were hurting public finances.
The central bank, meanwhile, said it will intervene in the foreign exchange market to protect the Naira if there is a depreciation which is completely out of tune with fundamentals.
Sanusi in an interview yesterday in Kinshasa where he’s attending a conference of African central bankers, said “however if in our judgment, we feel that reserves are at risk and oil prices are falling, then we’ll allow the naira to slide.”
The naira is no longer “falling rapidly,” Sanusi said. The currency closed at N156.4 per dollar yesterday.
“What we’re going to have is a stable depreciation if at all. Given what’s happening with oil prices and the improvements with peace in the Niger Delta, we may actually be able to stem it.”

Source:Thisday 

EXTRACTS FROM REPORTS OF INDEPENDENT AUDITORS

08.22.2009

 

 

In order to ascertain what the reports by the external auditors of the bailed out banks said about their financial health, THISDAY downloaded the financial statements of five of the four banks, except that of Afribank Plc which did not post its audited statement on it website. The statements by the independent auditors stated as follows:

UNION BANK OF NIGERIA
(Akintola Williams Deloitte,
Oyekanmi Soetan Adeleke & Co)
We have audited the accompanying financial statements of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, as at 31 March 2007. We believe that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our audit opinion.
Basis of Qualified Opinion:
We draw your attention to note 24 on page 37 of these financial statements in respect of goodwill on consolidation that was charged to the share premium account. The bank obtained the approval of shareholders at the Extra-Ordinary General Meeting held on 27 September, 2007 to write-off the goodwill of N15.721billion against the share premium. The sanction of the Federal High Court has been obtained on 4 October, 2007 in accordance with Companies and Allied Matters Act CAP C20 LFN 2004.
The writing off of goodwill against the share premium account is not in accordance with section 21(2) and (3) of Schedule II of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, Cap C20 LFN 2004 which requires goodwill acquired by a company to be amortized systematically over a period of not more than 5 years. Had the goodwill been amortized over 5 years as allowed by the Company’s Act, the profit before taxation of N15.320billion would have been reduced by N3.144 billion while the goodwill and share premium balances would each have increased by N12.577 billion and N15.721 billion respectively.
Qualified Opinion:
Except for the effect of the amounts charged directly to the share premium account, in our opinion, the group and the bank have kept proper accounting records and the financial statements are in agreement with the records in all material respects and give in the prescribed manner, information required by the Companies and Allied Matters Act CAP C20 LFN 2004 and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act CAP B3 LFN 2004. The financial statements give a true and fair view of the financial position of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc as at 31 March 2007, and of its financial performance and its cash flows for the year then ended in accordance with the Statement of Accounting Standards issued by the Nigerian Accounting Standards Board and relevant International Financial Reporting Standards.

OCEANIC BANK
(PriceWaterhouseCooper)
We have audited the accompanying consolidated financial statements of Oceanic Bank International Plc and its subsidiaries which comprise the consolidated balance sheet as of 31 December 2008 and the consolidated profit and loss account and consolidated cash flow statement for the period then ended and a statement of significant accounting policies and other explanatory notes.
Opinion
In our opinion the financial statements give a true and fair view of the state of the financial affairs of the bank and group as of 31 December 2008 and of their profits and cash flows for the period then ended in accordance with Nigerian Statements of Accounting Standards, the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990 and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991.
Report on Other Legal and Regulatory Requirements
We confirm that:
i. we have obtained all the information and explanations which to the best of our knowledge and belief were necessary for the purposes of our audit;
ii. in our opinion proper books of account have been kept, so far as appears from our examination of those books; and
iii. the bank’s balance sheet and profit and loss account are in agreement with the books of account;"
As stated in the Notes to the financial statements, the bank contravened certain sections of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991. The penalties levied thereon have been paid. Except as stated in Note 39 to the financial statements and to the best of our information, the bank has complied with the requirements of the relevant circulars issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

INTERCONTINENTAL 
(PriceWaterhouseCooper)
We have audited the accompanying consolidated financial statements of Intercontinental Bank Plc and its subsidiaries, which comprise the consolidated balance sheet as of 29 February 2008 and the consolidated profit and loss account and consolidated cash flow statement for the year then ended and a summary of significant accounting policies and other explanatory notes.
Opinion
In our opinion, the accompanying financial statements give a true and fair view of the state of the financial affairs of the group and of the bank at 29 February 2008 and of the profit and cash flows of the group and of the bank for the year then ended in accordance with Nigerian Statements of Accounting Standards and the Companies and Allied Matters Act.
Report on Other Legal Requirements
The Companies and Allied Matters Act and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act require that in carrying out our audit we consider and report to you on the following matters. We confirm that:
i) we have obtained all the information and explanations which to the best of our knowledge and belief were necessary for the purposes of our audit.
ii) in our opinion, proper books of account have been kept by the bank, so far as appears from our examination of those books;
iii) the bank’s balance sheet and profit and loss account are in agreement with the books of account.
iv) our examination of loans and advances was carried out in accordance with the Prudential Guidelines for licensed banks issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria;
v) related party transactions and balances are disclosed in Note 33 to the financial statements in accordance with the Central Bank of Nigeria Circular BSD/1/2004;
vi) the bank has complied with the requirements of the relevant circulars issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
•To be continued

Source:Thisday 

Sack of bank chiefs: The conspiracy theory
• Suspicion, fears trail CBN hammer


From ISAAC ANUMIHE, Abuja and VINCENT UKPOMG KALU, Lagos
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Dr Erastus Akingbola
Photo: The Sun Publishing

Just one week after the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) bore its fangs and sacked five bank chief executive officers in one fell swoop, the action has opened a new vista in the discourse as to whether it was an action taken in malice or genuinely done to rid the banking industry of corruption.

However, investigation has revealed the undercurrent which finally culminated into the big stick.

Last Friday, August 14, 2009, the CBN had jolted the banking industry with the removal of Dr Cecilia Ibru (Oceanic Bank); Mr. Bartholomew Ebong (Union Bank); Dr Erastus Akingbola (Intercontinental Bank); Sebastian Adigwe (Afribank Bank) and Mr. Okey Nwosu of Finbank. The apex bank’s reason was that there were signs of distress in the affected bank. It also said that the banks have a huge debt portfolio.

To be sure, the five banks have a total loan portfolio of N2.9 trillion, made up of N456.25 billion margin loan loans; N487.02 billion exposure to oil and gas sector, while their aggregate non-performing loans have hit N1.2 trillion, with net guarantee inter bank takings grossing up to N127.8 billion. Union Bank, for instance, granted several loans to its subsidiaries to buy its shares to the tune of N35 billion. When the value of the shares collapsed on the stock exchange, the bank was badly hit. Also, about N46 billion was also said to have been loaned to Transcorp Plc for the acquisition of the Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL) while several other loans, running into billions of naira, went bad. Such loans include that to MTS Wireless Limited.

Similarly, Oceanic Bank’s exposure to margin loans made the financial institution to provide for N42 billion in its bank, the highest so far in the industry. Also, the bank owes the CBN N95 billion from expanded discount window of the apex bank. As a matter of fact, the bank’s loan portfolio is N600 billion, out of which N333 billion is not performing.

Intercontinental Bank, Afribank and Finbank offence was not different from others, as they were equally exposed to large amounts of margin loans to some powerful persons in the society.

The NDIC earlier report

However, it is not that these are recent manifestations in the industry, because, as far back as 2007, these banks had started showing signs of insolvency, as indicated in the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) 2007 annual report and statement of accounts of the banks.
NDIC had reported that of the 24 banks in the industry, as at the end of 2007, four banks were rated sound, 17 were rated satisfactory, two marginal and one rated unsound. The market shares of assets, credits and deposits of the unsound bank represented 1.63 per cent, 1.9 per cent and 1.68 per cent of the industry’s total respectively during the period under review.

According to the NDIC report, the bank’s non-performing credits to total credit ratio was as high as 88.35 per cent. The two marginal banks’ total market share of assets credits and deposits were 3.95 per cent, 3.81 per cent and 3.86 per cent of the industry total respectively.
The average non-performing credits to total credits ratio stood at 21.11 per cent with an average capital to risk-weighted assets ratio of 11.74 per cent.

Given this report, it is unarguable that the problem has been since 2007, even when the former governor of CBN, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, was in the saddle. But Soludo chose to manage the issue so that there won’t be a run on the banks, which, to him, could destabilize the economy and create tension in the polity.
But the approach of Soludo did not go down well with some industry experts, like the present CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who, at the time, was the chief executive of First Bank of Nigeria plc. Being a competitor, Sanusi, had longed for an opportunity to vent his spleen on what, to him, was an unprofessional act. Industry watchers believe that as a northerner, the CBN governor was uncomfortable with the consolidation of banks, which left the North with one bank, leaving the South with 23 banks.

The North’s anger
Besides, the North had believed that Soludo was playing President Coliseum Bosanko’s script to the effect that the Arabic inscription on the naira was yanked off and that the former governor of the apex bank planned to crowd the North out of the foreign exchange market by classifying the Bureau de Change (BDC) into ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C,’ which made it impossible for all the operators to access the CBN foreign exchange window. The attempted redenomination of the naira was another policy, which Soludo’s administration thought would curb inflation and reduce the overbearing effect of the dollar against the naira. This was also counted against him. Northern top shots misconstrued that to mean that the policy was against the bureau de change operators, who are the major operators of the business.

So, it was against this background that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi emerged as the new CBN boss. Soon after he assumed office, he liberalized the forex market, which made it possible for all the BDC operators to participate in the forex market. The action elicited reactions from experts, who believe that Sanusi was in a hurry to upturn the achievements of his predecessors and stamps his feet in the economic sphere. He was believed to be aiming at ensuring the return of Arabic inscription on the naira and the licensing of more banks of northern origin with lower capital base and of course or further shrinking the banks to 15. Indeed, even before the conclusion of the auditing of the banks, Sanusi had told London Times that his target was to shrink the existing 24 banks to 15 strong banks.

The CBN governor had commissioned the auditing of the banks. So far, only 10 had been fully audited. Analysts are wondering, therefore, why the CBN did not wait for the completion of the auditing before taking actions on banks that fall short of its expectation. This is why some are actually insinuating that the action was premeditated and that the real intention is to hand over some banks to new investors, the majority of who may come from a particular section of the country.

The suspicion
Sources say that this suspicion is more rife as the CBN did not make effort to help the banks, in other ways instead of outright take over.

When the economic meltdown started, the Federal Government had said that there would not be any bail-out for banks. The same government, has through the CBN injected N420 billion to five banks, to be shared as follows: Union bank (N120 billion), Intercontinental Bank (N100 billion), Oceanic Bank (N1900 billion), Afribank (N50) and Finbank (N50 billion). And the CBN governor said that the government would divest the funds to fresh investors. With such bail out fund, the CBN now control about N60 per cent of the shares of the banks. This, invariably means that when the funds are divested, the investors who would acquire them would be the new owners of the banks, as they would control the majority shares.

Sanusi, while speaking to CNBL Africa Television, underlined this when he said: “The bailout will be converted to either some kind of Tier 2 debt or some kind of preference shares. Our intention is to find investors and to get the government out of these banks as quickly as possible and if necessary simply remain in terms of provision of liquidity support not equity.”

Saturday Sun gathered that when the N420 billion would be divested, it would not be through Initial Public Offer (IPO) but by private placement. By this arrangement, therefore, only a select few would buy up the shares.

The shockwave
However, since the take-over of the banks, the banking sector has been experiencing a shockwaves. First, the banks, in the last one-week, have been hit by massive withdrawal, as deposit panic that their money is at risk. Also, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has suspended the trading of the banks on the floor of the sock exchange. Beside, the CBN action has caused a further crash of stocks, at a time when the sector is having a bad time.

Some experts think that the bank chiefs have been given a bad name to hang them.

The reactions
According to a reputation management consultant, based in Abuja, Mr. Val Oji, it is funny that Nigerians jumped into conclusion suddenly to vilify the bank chiefs.

“I find it funny that Nigerians jump into conclusions very quickly. We start praising our leaders who have not looked at the issues critically. Let us start from President Barrack Obama when he came to Africa. He said that Africa does not need strong leaders but strong men. I believe that CBN governor was playing to the gallery and I tell you why. First, he may have good intensions, but my point of difference is that good intensions are okay but the implementation, to my mind, is poor. And I say that with all sense of responsibility. Now, there are 24 banks in Nigeria and you have done just an audit on 10. What was the point in rushing to the press? Is it not a personal agenda, in the sense that this man is hell bent in making a name for himself at the expense of the country.

“I refer you back a little bit when he was appointed. As a matter of fact, I blame the president, to an extent, because I do not know anywhere in the world an appointed servant of the government would criticize the same government on the day he is being installed. He started by saying that the seven-point agenda should be reduced to two. I think that was wrong. I try to put all these in context because Soludo left very big shoes and because of the issues regarding his appointment as CBN governor, he (Sanusi) is in a hurry to make a name. Now let’s go to the issue. The issue is simple, you have 24 banks in the country. You appoint an audit committee, you finish the audit and then you give these people a fair hearing. You cannot be an accuser and also be a judge. I am not holding brief for these gentlemen. People like Erastus Akingbola and Cecilia Ibru are not small fries. We need to look at the issues.

“Nigerians should not jump into conclusions. This was the same mistake we made with El-Eufai; the same mistake we made with Ribadu. The intentions are okay but these intentions must be done within the laws of the land. Otherwise, we will be creating tin gods. The CBN governor had an option of finishing the audit and then presenting the matter to stakeholders. It is possible that the action he has created wouldn’t have been the best. Now he has created panic in the system.

The question I am asking, the actions he took, are they the best for the nation or are the actions directed at exalting an individual? Is it possible that this man is interested in playing to the gallery? I give you an example. You do not go to the pages of newspapers to vilify people who have over 30 years of experience. What we need to do is to go back to the issues.

“The other banks, I understand, are even weaker. The N40 billion being granted to Transcorp during President Obasanjo regime, were the CEOs’ hands tied? These are critical issues. The point I am making is that the intensions may be wrong or right but the actions that have been taken are not correct. He has misfired and I think history will vindicate me. I feel that we should look at the issues critically. My submission is that a holistic approach should be taken in solving this systemic problem.”

Another stakeholder, Mr. Raymond Okpe, has queried the hurry in bringing investors to invest in the banks 48 hours after the banks were declared insolvent. “Was it a predetermined action?” he asked.
However, a number of other stakeholders have commended the action, because, according to him, the facts speak for themselves.

The EFCC angle
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is looking beyond only focusing its searchlight on the former managing directors of the five banks. The anti-graft agency has gone after those who borrowed money from the affected banks and have not paid back. Consequently, the EFCC has actually given those involved a seven-day ultimatum to pay back or face prosecution.

The anti-graft agency has so far arrested three of the former bank chiefs. Erastus Akingbola was said to have got prior knowledge of the CBN hammer and first, boycotted the meeting between Sanusi and bank managing directors. He was said to have also travelled abroad ahead of the CBN announcement. He has also slammed a suit against Sanusi, challenging his removal and the appointment of an acting managing director for the bank, asking for N50 billion damages.

Mrs. Cecilia Ibru was said to have been stopped at the airport from travelling. However, it was gathered that she eventually left the country with the private yet of one of the major shareholders of Oceanic Bank, whose name also features on the list of debtors CBN released.

Source: Daily Sun 

Financial mess
•How Nigeria was looted blind
•N17tr stolen in one year
By VINCENT UKONG KALU(vin@sunnwsonline.com)
Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mrs. Farida Waziri
Photo: The Sun Publishing

Recently, the Director of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), Tim Daniel, revealed that Nigeria loses $110 billion annually to treasury looting. According to him, the country cannot boast of tremendous development because of the large amount of money being siphoned out of government and taken outside the country.

Saturday Sun’s findings reveal that Daniel hit the bull in the eye. Every ministry, government’s agency and parastatal corporation have been discovered to be involved in the looting spree. Indeed, during her first anniversary as Chairman of Economic Finance and Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri noted that former governors, ministers and members of parliament alone have stolen N285billion in this political dispensation.

With this and other reported cases of corruption Transparency International cannot therefore be faulted in its position that corruption is high in Nigeria.

It would be recalled that one of the reasons the military sacked the civilian government of Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983 was corruption. Corruption still continues. When what happened then is compared to the looting in the last 10 years, the former pales into insignificance. When the country started another journey in democracy, led by Olusegun Obasanjo, a probe was instituted against the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, which led to the discovery that the former military junta sole $3billion from the country’s treasurer.

The uproar this generated and the recrimination it attracted to the Abacha family did not deter others from helping themselves from the treasury, whether it is national, state or local government levels.
Saturday Sun gathered that on daily basis political office holders’ siphoned money, through various means, from the treasury. Recently, the National Coordinator, Nigeria Network on Stolen Assets, Rev. David Ugolor, revealed that the N65billion looted by Abacha, which had been returned, had been mismanaged. According to him, from evidence the Federal Government, under Obasanjo, disbursed the funds and could not provide evidence of transparent disbursement. The same fate greeted the N16billion recovered from Tafa Balogun, which was said to be missing and no record to trace it.

When Obasanjo assumed office in 1999, he adorned the messiah toga. In fighting corruption, he set up the EFCC, with Nuhu Ribadu as its chairman. The anti-graft agency started blowing hot until it turned out to be a tool for hounding perceived or real enemies of the president. Ribadu, while appearing before the Senate in 2007, told the bewildered nation that the agency had investigated then serving governors and that 31 out of the 36 of them had been found to have allegedly looted the treasury of their respected states and would be prosecuted as soon as their immunity expired.

Curiously, when the tenure of these governors ended, only six of them who were said not to be in the good books of Obasanjo were taken to court by the agency. Not much was known about the extent of looting of the national treasury until the National Assembly started probing various agencies, ministries and parastatals. The figures coming out from some of the probes that represent what have been looted are frightening. It was from the probes that Nigerian realised why the problem of the energy sector had defied solution and why the country has been in perpetual darkness. Over $16 billion, said to have spent by Obasanjo’s government to find solution to the perennial darkness, went into private pockets.

The usual Nigeria’s conundrum was introduced in the probe, which made the report to be confined to the trash bin. The hunter later turned the hunted. Ndudi Elumelu, the head of the probe committee, is now facing trial with four others for alleged perpetration of monumental fraud of N5.2b.Those involved are Chairman, Senate Committee on Power; Senator Nicholas Ugbare, his House of Representatives counterpart, Ndudi Elumelu; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Dr. Abdulahi Aliyu and Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency, Samuel Gekpe.

Another sleaze at Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) involved N3billion alleged stolen by the suspended Chairman of the agency, Dr. Ransome Owan and six commissioners. They are currently facing trial on 197-count at an Abuja High Court. Of this amount, N77million was said to have been spent on overseas frolicking and cost of living allowances.

Yet another case of looting is in educational sector, while the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is lamenting the high level of adult illiteracy in Nigeria, the literacy commission boss was involved in N271m fraud, which is part of the amount meant to reduce the illiteracy rate in the country. According to latest report of UNESCO, Nigeria is classified as one of the countries at a serious risk of not attaining the Education for All (EFA) goal by 2015. The report claimed that there are about 60 million adult illiterates and 11 million out-of-school children in Nigeria. It rated Nigeria as one of the most illiterate in the world. In the face of this negative index, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Adult Education, Mass Literacy and Non-Formal Education, Dr. Dayo Olagunju and 19 officers of the commission are being prosecuted for the alleged fraud.

The Director of the Universal Basic Education Commission, Prof. Bridget Sokan and three top officers are also facing trial over N78million loot. Also, while the universities are crying of under-funding and lecturers on strike, the Vice Chancellor of Imo State University, Prof. I. C. Okonkwo, has been arrested in connection with N70million fraud. When his house was searched, the sum of N4.5million cash, $11, 200 and 700 Euros were found in his apartment in Owerri.

Former Minister of Aviation, Prof. Babalola Borishade, NAMA’s former Managing Director, Roland Iyayi and two others were fingered in N19billion loot. They are facing criminal charges in court.
The football house is not left out. It was recently reported that $236, 000 was stolen from coffers of Nigerian Football Federation. Funny enough, the National Sports Commission, the supervising agency inaugurated committee to trace the money. The committee, after collecting sitting allowance, did not come up with any finding.

The National Film Corporation has its pie in the shame, as its Managing Director, Afolabi Adesanya and four directors were recently arrested for allegedly sharing of N11.8m belonging to the agency.
The Trans National Corporation (TRANCOP) is also in the news as it relates to corruption. Its Group Managing Director, Thomas Isegoli, is in the net of EFCC for fraud. The amount involved is more than N15billion. He is being held with the company’s Secretary, Mohammed Buba and another official, Mike Okoli.

The GMD is said to have, in connivance with other staff, severally abused the N100million approval limit given to him by the Board of TRANSCORP. He allegedly used organisations owned by his friends and associates to siphon money through bogus and overlapping consultancy projects, contracts and services.
The Chairman, Federal Character Commission, Prof. Oba Shuaibu Abdulraheem, was last September accused of involvement in N262million scam. A petition on this issue was sent to President Umar Yar’Adua and Code of Conduct Bureau. Chief Bode George and others are also facing charges over scam in the Nigeria Ports authority. Former Senate President, Adolphs Nwagbara with Prof. Ebere Osuji, former education minister and others are also facing corruption charges, likewise serving Senator Iyabo Obasanjo and Prof Adenike Grange, who are alleged to have corruptly enriched themselves to the tune of N300million.

At the peak of the Obasanjo campaign for the cancellation of Nigeria’s foreign debt, United Kingdom Minister for Africa, Mr. Chris Mullin disclosed, on February 2005, that about N315.5billion of Nigeria’s looted funds were frozen in various British banks. He had said that Nigeria’s quest for debt cancellation would be a mirage if corruption and looting of the treasure persisted in the country. From reports, Nigeria’s stolen money kept in foreign accounts in 1999 increased from $50billion to $170billion in 2003. This was buttressed in the June 2006 edition of The Africa Report by the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr. Raymond Baker, who had estimated stolen money from Nigeria and stashed away in foreign banks to be about $100b.

Baker, who put the total value of “dirty money” laundered globally at $500million per annum, also noted that about 50 percent of these funds, which come from developing economies end up in US dollar dominated accounts.

Saturday Sun gathered that the sum of N53.3billion owed failed banks in the country and now considered bad debts came about as a result of insider abuse or outright stealing by officials of those banks. Before the collapsed of these banks, some of them went to the Nigerian Stock Exchange to raise funds to assist them come out of the woods. This ended with much of the funds being diverted to other uses by the unscrupulous officials of the banks.

Of all these funds stashed away in foreign banks, in 2006, the then Attorney General of the Federation declared that the Federal Government could only recover $1billion.

Source:Daily Sun

As Banks Scrumble; Big Party For Soludo

August 21, 2009 14:45, 1,110 views

By Ada Owojela

At a time the banking sector is smarting from the shake-up aimed at sanitising it by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), a group called League of Anambra Professionals (LAP) will tomorrow organise a big party for former CBN governor, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo.

The group, in a full page advertisement, published in a national newspaper today, invited the general public to the programme.

According to the group, “League of Anambra Professionals (LAP) invites you to the grand reception in honour of Prof. Chukwuma C. Soludo for his outstanding performance as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

When asked if the timing of the reception was not wrong, considering a situation where Soludo’s policies and cover up when he was CBN governor led to the current sordid state of some commercial banks, one of the organisers of the reception thinks otherwise.

Emeka Onuoha, a member of the group who spoke to P.M.News this morning, said though he is not in a position to speak on whether it was expedient to organise the reception at this moment, he asserted that Soludo performed well during his tenure as CBN governor.

“ I’m not in a position to argue on this matter but my understanding of the honour being done to him is to show appreciation for his performance while in office as the CBN governor,’’ he said.

He especially mentioned the consolidation exercise Soludo carried out during his tenure.

On whether the reception was not a prelude to Soludo’s declaration for the Anambra State governorship race in 2010, Onuoha said the event was not political.

He, however, praised the new CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for mustering the will to embark on the process of sanitising the nation’s banking industry.

Last Friday, Sanusi sacked the managing directors of Union Bank, Oceanic Bank, Afribank, Intercontinental Bank and Finbank for alleged mismanagement of their banks which resulted in huge debts being owed the banks.

The action called to question Soludo’s failure to rein in debtors who took loans running into billions of naira but failed to pay back to the five banks.

Source:PM News 

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