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Access Bank Petitions LPPC, LDPC, Wants Seplat Lawyers Punished

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Access Bank PLC has written the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) and the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), demanding the sanctioning of Mr Babajide Koku (SAN) as well as Etigwe Uwa (SAN), both lawyers to Seplat Petroleum Development Company, for alleged professional misconduct in the handling of court case between both companies.

In the petition against Koku and Uwa, the bank stated that both senior lawyers engaged in acts unbecoming of legal practitioners and contravened well established legal principles in bad faith.
Access Bank had through its receiver-manager Mr Kunle Ogunba (SAN), taken over the corporate office of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited over a debt based on a court order.
The ruling which was thereafter appealed by Seplat, had granted it leave to possess the corporate offices of Seplat and to freeze its accounts over a loan obtained by Cardinal Drilling Services Limited, which according to the bank, was utilised by Seplat.

However, the indigenous oil firm had insisted that its property could not be taken over because the loan, running into millions of dollars, was given to Cardinal Drilling and not directly to Seplat.
In the letters to both bodies, Access bank accused Koku of “Aiding and abetting his client’s engagement in acts contravening well established legal principles and illegalities all in bad faith to prevent his clients from fulfilling their corporate responsibilities.”

The bank further maintained that the senior lawyer “Engaged in acts calculated to deliberately obstruct, delay and ultimately affect the administration of justice.”
It stated that the email written conveying the execution of the order of the Court of Appeal to the bank was replete with fallacies, insisting that notwithstanding the fallacies contained, Koku failed to immediately caution his client Dr Ambrose Orjiako to refrain from instructing his company Seplat from making such misleading statements.
“It is pertinent to state that the suspension of the interlocutory injunction was to be secured by a Bank Guarantee issued in favour of the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal in line with the ruling of the Court.

“It is indeed elementary and Mr. Jide Koku SAN, a member of the Inner Bar ought to know that the suspension of the interlocutory orders made by the trial court in FHC/L/CS/1588/2020 shall not take effect until the lodging of the security (Bank Guarantee in favour of the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal) ordered by the Honourable Court.

“However, till date Seplat being directed by its Chairman Dr. Orjiako has failed to lodge the said bank guarantee issued in favour of the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal within 21 days of the said ruling and the office of the Deputy Chief Registrar after the requisite filing at the Court of Appeal Registry.
“Furthermore, Seplat being directed by its Chairman, Dr. Orjiako published several notices, alleging that it had repossessed its Head Office,” Access bank noted.

It added that a public notice released by Seplat was also replete with fallacies, all intended to deceive the general public and whip up public sentiment in favour of the company.
“A close examination of the public notice will reveal this mischief particularly the fact that the said publication deliberately seeks to mislead the general public into believing that the entire building, housing companies other than Seplat was closed up, thereby portraying the bank as irrational,” it said.
The bank further stated that Uwa under the direction of Orjiako violated the interlocutory order of the Federal High Court by taking pictures inside the said asset at 12:27am when indeed the Court of Appeal delivered its ruling around 10:00am.

It argued that in the instance, the ruling delivered by the Court of Appeal has not been executed by either the bailiff/deputy Sheriff of the Court of Appeal or the Federal High Court.
“It is befuddling for Seplat being directed by its chairman to allege that the said order had been executed, save for the deployment of illegal means approved by its chairman in any such purported execution,” Access maintained.
Quoting Rule 15 (2) (a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007, the bank said that a lawyer shall keep strictly within the law notwithstanding any contrary instruction by his client, and if the client insists on a breach of the law, the lawyer shall withdraw his service.

Flowing from the above, the bank affirmed that Koku having failed to withdraw representation of his client in breach of the law , but rather encouraged, defended and corroborated in such illegalities had breached the rules of professional conduct.

“We urge the committee to determine this instant petition in favour of the petitioner and hold that Koku is indeed guilty of professional misconduct and conducts unbecoming of a legal practitioner and proceed to sanction this conduct to serve as a deterrent to other legal practitioners,” it said.
On Uwa, Access Bank accused him of deliberately making, publishing and/or causing to be published false statements of facts and law and participating in making extra judicial statements calculated to prejudice and/or interfere with the fair trial of a pending suit

It also said the senior lawyer aided and abetted his client’s engagement in acts contravening well established legal principles and illegalities all in bad faith to prevent his clients from fulfilling their corporate responsibilities.
The bank stated that Uwa “Engaged in acts calculated to deliberately obstruct, delay and ultimately affect the administration of justice and failed to observe promises to opposing counsel thereby failing to adhere to agreements implied by such promises.

“Why did Etigwe Uwa storm the asset accompanied by heavily armed policemen while he was fully aware that the petitioner had caused to be filed a Notice of Appeal to the Supreme Court alongside an application for injunction pending appeal?
“How did Etigwe Uwa procure policemen on illegal duty to accompany him to attempt to repossess the asset in a gestapo like manner, without the mandatory Sheriffs of the Federal High Court?
“Is Etigwe Uwa’s attempt to foist the Apex Court with a situation of fait accompli a conduct becoming of a legal practitioner?,” the bank queried.

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ABC ORJIAKO: LIVING A LUXURY LIFESTYLE WITH A HUGE DEBT PROFILE…..

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Access Bank Plc, Nigeria’s biggest lender, which assumed that position following its merger and acquisition deal with former Diamond Bank, is continuing its quest to clean up the Aegean stable of legacy issues brought upon it by the merger, especially outstanding debt the latter consummated

The bank is now horn-locked with one of Nigeria’s serial debtors, Ambrosie Bryant Chukwueloka (ABC) Orjiako, the chairman of Seplat Petroleum Development Company, SEPLAT itself, Cardinal Drilling Nigeria Limited, another company associated with the businessman, over an indebtedness put at $200 million.

In his bid to cover up his debt profile, he decided to go on a media war attacking Access bank as a bully. Isn’t it funny that a man whose debt profile has made him a serial debtor accusing a bank of corporate bullying?

He should pay his debt and see if anyone is interested in bullying him, as nobody is interested in his company, all they are asking for is for him to pay back depositors’ money.

In business, borrowing money in the bank without paying back is tantamount to putting the financial system at risk.

When a man calls himself a businessman and owes a bank you are putting the financial system at risk, which is not healthy for the economy.

As against his attack towards Access bank, ABC Orjiako should know and understand that been asked to pay back his loan is neither bullying nor a hostile takeover.

The matter, still in court, led to the issuance of a Morava order against Orjoako’s asset, which includes the freezing of seplat account and sealing of the seplat headquarters.

Although the order was lifted by the court of appeal, the Access bank has appealed to Supreme Court to reinstate the order.

Clearly, Orjiarkor’s recalcitrant behavior is a threat to the financial system.

The regulatory authority should find a way to prevent people like Orjiakor from accessing loans until they pay their old debt.

By: SUNDAY ADEBAYO

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Heritage Bank’s 8 years journey of entrenching business of banking in Nigeria

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Today marks a worthy milestone in the life of one of the fastest growing financial service provider, Heritage Bank Plc as it celebrates eight (8) years of entrenching seamless service delivery in the business of banking in Nigeria.

This is a journey that began eight (8) years ago, premised on passion, commitment, doggedness, culture and hard work amongst others, stands today as a reputable financial organisation in the Nigeria banking space.

The story began in 2012; a story of hard work and determination when Heritage Bank Plc emerged from a business combination of Heritage Banking Company Limited (HBCL) and Enterprise Bank Limited (EBL) after the acquisition of SocieteGenerale of Nigeria’s (SGBN) license by IEI Investment Ltd from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) having met all requirements by Nigeria’s apex bank.

 

Heritage Bank returned 100% of existing SGBN account holders’ funds which were frozen at the closure of the SGBN. This move brought a lot of smiles to the faces of former account holders and inspired many of them to open new accounts with Heritage Bank. In October 2014, Heritage Banking Company Ltd successfully met the requirements of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the CBN toward owning 100% shares in Enterprise Bank Ltd., after a highly competitive bid process. This development firmly anchors the Heritage Bank in a rich legacy of technology and innovation in the banking industry. SGBN, which was incorporated in December 1976 and commenced full banking operations in August 1977, pioneered the introduction of e-banking services including its flagship, the 24/7 Cashpoint through the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in 1990.

 

With a management focused on innovation through technology and a unique philosophy to create, preserve and transfer wealth to its customers, Heritage Bank found itself in a fiercely competitive banking environment but it remained guided by passion, resilience, innovation and a brand architecture that exuded quality service, performance and sheer excellence.

Still, as big a move as it was, it remained just one of the many strategic moves to change the banking industry and Heritage Bank has made a lot of them and attains giant strides in reshaping the economy since it began operations in 2013 to drive improved investment outcome and job creation.

Success stories of entrenching business of banking in Nigeria:

 

As a catalytic financial institution, Heritage Bank, through its strategic partnerships with government and private organisations, has continued to make efforts to transforming the nation’s economy through championing entrepreneurial schemes for businesses and the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector was not left out, which have always focused on dependable job-creating sectors, such as education, agricultural value chain (fish farming, poultry, snail farming), cottage industry, mining and solid minerals, creative industry (tourism, arts and crafts), and Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

 

In recent times, the bank’s response to dealing with the global economic challenge occasioned by COVID-19, which highly impacted SMEs, Heritage Bank PLC has continued to deepen its support to young entrepreneurs in Nigeria to grow their businesses either as start-ups or prospective business owners.

 

One of such is the last Season of the reality TV show The Next Titan, themed “The Unstoppable” that was designed to search for business ideas that are immune to any pandemic, innovations that break boundaries and technologies that can survive any lockdown. This programme produced a young vibrant entrepreneur, graduate of the Federal University of Technology Owerri with a Bachelor Degree in Environmental Science who is the Chief Executive Officer of Josult Oil Processing Company, a palm oil processing company in Akwa Ibom State, Joshua Joseph Idiong, as he finally emerged the winner of the Next Titan Season-7, going home with a whooping sum of N10million. Furthermore, Heritage Bank PLC in partnership with Honourable Fatima Mohammed (FAMO) Foundation also provided succor to over 300 affected private school teachers and small medium enterprises (SMEs).

 

Heritage Bank has continued to blaze the trial on the SME’s space to empower young entrepreneurs in such schemes as the HB Innovation Lab Accelerator programme (HB-LAB), Ynspyre Account, Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP), Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) on Young Entrepreneurship Business Training Programme (YEBTP), Young Entrepreneurs and Students (YES) Grant and Nigerian Youth Professional Forum (NYPF), Big Brother Nigeria, Lagos Comic Con, among others.

Last year witnessed the Launch of the Nationwide Dukia-Heritage Bank Gold & Precious Metals which stands to create new opportunities for Nigeria to grow its potential reserves of 200 million ounces of gold.

 

The Nationwide Dukia-Heritage Bank Gold & Precious Metals Buying Centre will fast-track 10per cent contribution of mining sector to GDP by 2026. Referring to this giant strides, Prof. YemiOsinbajo remarked that the launch of this project between Heritage Bank and ‘Dukia Gold SPV’ would enable Nigeria to mine reserves properly, trade responsibly, refine locally and boost the nation’s foreign reserves.

 

Heritage Bank has continued to support Nigeria’s aspiration and roadmap to become a leading Information Communication Technology (ICT) Hub in Africa, The Bank doled out the sum of $40, 000 grants to winners of the maiden edition of HB Innovative Lab.

The bank’s commitment is to create enabling environment, resources and support required to innovate and accelerate impactful solutions with the potential to radically improve financial inclusion/intermediation, health, automobile, agriculture, and other related problems affecting critical sectors of the economy.

 

For the bank’s giant stride of support to tourism, Federal Government commended Heritage Bank for its commitment to the development and growth of the creative industry.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the commendation at a two-day Creative Nigeria Summit.

The bank, aimed at boosting Nigeria’s tourism via creative arts industry supported the sponsorship of exhibition at the National Museum Benin, at the Exhibition Gallery of National Museum Benin by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), in collaboration with the Edo State Government, and the Smithsonian Institute, United States of America.

 

Also, efforts are being taken by Heritage Bank Plc and the River State government during the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) to make art and culture a unifying factor and major earner to the contribution of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

Heritage Bank Plc partnered with the organizers of the International Festival of Contemporary Dance (IFCOD) to host the second edition of One Language, a musical production of intrigue, dance and drama.

 

 

Most prominent of its partnership and supports is the annual Calabar Carnival and festival, tagged “Africa’s Biggest Street Party,” was created as part of the vision of making Cross River State the number one tourist destination for Nigerians and other tourists across the world.

Heritage Bank is not done yet. The bank went further to prove its trend setting profile by driving seat of the agricultural financing revolution.

 

In a bid to support the real sector and unlock food potentials, Heritage Bank Plc provided over N5billion long term facility under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) to Triton Aqua Africa Ltd (TAAL).

TAAL known as Triton Farm accessed the CACS through Heritage Bank, which was used to set up aquaculture businesses; nursery/hatchery to produce fingerlings and brood stock in Ikeja and earthen ponds for catfish and Tilapia in Asejire, Iwo and Gambari towns in Oyo State.

Under the arrangement, TAAL will also help small-scale farms increase their fish production by making fingerlings available to them.

In the short term, the loan is expected to help Triton double its current production capacity of 25,000 metric tonnes with a projection to scale it up to 100,000 metric tonnes in five years.

The bank also has thrown its weight behind Globus Resources Limited, a subsidiary of Triton Group, to flag off the second phase of afforestation programme in Oyo state.

Nigeria’s demand capacity for fish was estimated at 2.7million metric tons and the country currently produces 800,000 metric tons.

Triton is now producing over 25,000 metric tons and with them on board, over 25,000 metric tons capacity will be added to our current production, the company’s projection is to exceed 100,000 metric tons in 5years.

 

In the state level, Heritage Bank entered into partnership with the Oyo State government in a multi-billion-naira project to give agriculture a boost.

Under the initiative, the bank supported the Oyo State Agricultural Initiative, OYSAI, a programme designed to revive agriculture, boost agro-allied businesses and massive empowerment programme for both youth and women across the state through the creation of thousands of jobs in the sector.

This huge, albeit laudable, project that is spread across 3,000 hectares of land in 28 of the 33 Local Government Areas of Oyo State is in three stages: food crop cultivation, cash crop/horticulture, and food processing.

 

Heritage Bank is supporting agro investors involved in this initiative with funds and advisory services and indications are that the programme has already led to more than 30 per cent increase in food production in the state.

The Bank also supported thousands of small holder farms in Kaduna and Zamfara states to benefit from the bank’s financial support for rice and soya beans production under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).

 

Further on job creation, Heritage Bank through its establishment of a full-fledged learning and development institute accredited by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), dubbed “The Refinery” successfully trained and employed about 300 new intakes.

 

In the midst of the bank’s audacity to dare and succeed, industry watchers have continued to ask; how are they doing it? The answers may not be far from the fact that this is one bank whose leadership team continues to exude the charisma of the Midas touch. With Heritage Bank, the MD/CEO, IfieSekibo has proven over and over again that whatever he touches, turns into gold.

 

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Oshodi and Apapa, like BRF, like Sanwo-Olu…Resolving the Intractable

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Prior to Babatunde Raji Fashola’s becoming the Executive Governor of Lagos State in 2007, one of the seemingly most intractable conundrum faced by Lagosians was the ‘madness’ that one of the major areas in the heart of Lagos had become-Oshodi. There practically seems to be no solution in sight to bringing sanity to Oshodi, one of the most restive, active and a major hub in the transportation architecture of Lagos. From the military administrators to their civilian counterparts, all efforts geared towards bringing orderliness to Oshodi were trailed with futility. Not even the successive military governors in the state, from Air Commodore Gbolahan Mudashiru to the tough-talking Raji Rasaki, could solve the Oshodi debacle. Oshodi had become a bedlam that could not yield to even the effervescent and charismatic Buba Marwa who made some strides while presiding over the affairs of the state.

Daily at Oshodi, motorists have to struggle and even sometimes beg the street traders before they could maneuver their way to and from work. The regular 3 lane of the dual carriageway had two third of it occupied by street traders, from used clothing items sellers, popularly known as Okrika or Tokunbo to food item vendors, like pepper sellers, meat sellers, household utensil vendors, they all occupied the major road, without a care in the world, after all, they daily make a payment to the area boys who in turn make a daily remittance to the kingpin of the area boys, at a time Oliver Ogochukwu Dum Obiora, popularly known as Bomboy and later Adedigba Adepegba, AKA Talo Skibbo.

What made the case of Oshodi even more bemusing, in its state of accepted lawlessness was the fact that you cannot be heading towards the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, which is the major airport in the Southwest of Nigeria without going through Oshodi. So, obviously the most powerful men in the land cannot claim ignorance of the situation. On the other side of one of the major markets in Oshodi, Mosafejo market is the Nigerian Army Cantonment, the only point of division being the railway line that runs across the two. You will begin to understand the importance that the nexus known as Oshodi represents when people tell you that if you are going anywhere in Lagos, just find your way to Oshodi and you are certain that you are halfway to your destination. From any of the parks in Oshodi, you practically can get a bus or public transport to any part of Lagos or even any major city or town in Southwest Nigeria.

Of course with the degree of confusion and lawlessness that Oshodi was then, it’s only normal that crime will fester in the place and indeed it was a place renowned then for crime of every guise, from the petty to the major. Pickpockets, jewelry snatchers, swindlers, robbers and even fake clergies made Oshodi their homes. Not to talk of the peddlers of illicit drugs, whose domain was the railway line, stretching from Ladipo all the way to Cappa. Young ladies and girls know well not to stray or go anywhere near this stretch of the railway line anytime it is dark as rape and molestation were regularly report.

Let us not even go into the traffic situation around Oshodi at the time under review, the crippling, grinding traffic jam around Oshodi often led to you seeing highly placed people abandoning their drivers with their SUVs and jumping on the next available Okada in order not to miss their flights. Oshodi was that notorious.

All of these were to change at an unbelievable alacrity in 2009 when the then governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola said enough was enough and resolutely decided to redeem Oshodi and transform the place, even when many thought it was a tough decision that could adversely affect his popularity and may be a political albatross should he decide to seek re-election in 2011. With the common folks, indeed it appeared then like an unpopular decision, but with the clearing of the place and the crystallization of his dream for Oshodi, even his most avowed critics agreed that without a shadow of doubt, it was one of the best decision by Fashola, one that will ultimately cement his place as one of the best individuals to have piloted the affairs of Lagos. The transformation of Oshodi by Fashola was like going to sleep in the noisy slum of Ajegunle and waking up to the serenity of old Ikoyi, it was unbelievable. It was a feat that even the most optimistic of Lagosians found very hard to believe.

What Fashola achieved with Oshodi, is exactly what the current governor of Lagos, in collaboration with the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA and the office of the Vice President have been able to achieve in unknotting the perennial gridlock that has become synonymous with Apapa. For years, Apapa had become one of the most dreaded places to visit in Lagos. No, it was not due to any reason adduced to crime other than the almost intractable traffic gridlock around the place.

For a non-regular visitor to Apapa and environ, whatever day of the week you chose to have any reason to go to that part of town, they were always ready to get their baptism of fire. Those who were unlucky to have made a visit to Apapa on some of its worst days always have a bitter tale to tell. There had been situations where people spent upwards of 10 hours on a spot, in Apapa traffic. The most unlucky ones were those who had one business or the other to transact around the port access roads, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway or Western Avenue leading through Ijora.

Before now, trailer trucks, container bearing trailers, petrol tankers and other heavy articulated vehicles used to litter the area with reckless abandon. They were like a law onto themselves and any attempt by government to regulate their activities were always swiftly met by threats of industrial actions by their very powerful union.

Several times, the activities of these vehicles had led to needless loss of lives and property through tanker, trailer and other vehicular accidents, as well as clashes resulting in fatalities between the drivers and their assistants, popularly known as motor boy and law enforcement agents.

All the madness that used to characterize Apapa is now a thing of the past- all thanks to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Hadiza Bala Usman, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Port Authority and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with the introduction of the electronic Truck Call-Up System.

Since the introduction of the system on Saturday, February 27, 2021, the entire Apapa axis is now enjoying free flow of traffic, with the residents and those who have offices around the place heaving a sigh of relief and commending the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government for proffering an ingenuous solution to what had almost been termed an irredeemable situation.

For a fact, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has proven to be a silent hard worker whose resolve to deliver on his electoral promises is one he isn’t ready to renege on. In spite of the major challenges, both local and global that have bedeviled Lagos since his assumption of office, he has kept his focus firmly locked on the ball and has consistently continued display an uncommon sense of purpose in piloting the affairs of Lagos.

By Victor Ganzallo

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