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CBN Special Investigator Summons Titan Trust MD, Major Shareholders Over Acquisition Of Union Bank

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The special investigator panel on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and related entities has summoned Babatunde Lemo, chairman of Titan Trust Bank (TTB), over the institution’s acquisition of Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN).

 

In a letter dated December 24, 2023, and signed by Eloho Okpoziakpo, head of operations at the office of the special investigator team, Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara, the major shareholders in TTB, were also invited.

 

 

The letter, addressed to Lemo by Jim Obazee, head of the special investigator team, said the invited officials must present themselves by 2 pm on December 28, 2023, to the Department of Force Intelligence (DFI).

 

 

The panel’s recent report had disclosed how Godwin Emefiele, the former CBN governor, allegedly used two Dubai-based companies (Luxis International and Magna International) to set up Titan Trust Bank (TTB) as proxies for the acquisition of UBN.

 

Denying the claims, TTB said the transaction followed due process and met all regulatory requirements, including that of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the CBN.

 

OFFENSIVE DEFENCE

But emphasising its findings, the probe panel labelled the bank’s rebuttal as an “offensive defence”.

 

Following TTB’s denial, the special investigator team said Lemo discussed with Obazee as well as sent an email “wherein you tried to provide clarification on your reaction to the report on TTB”.

 

“The defence seems contrary to the statements, made under caution, by the persons connected with these transactions, including your good self, before the Special Investigator at the Department of State Service (DSS) in August 2023,” the letter reads.

 

 

According to a letter dated August 28, 2023, addressed to Vink, UBN’s managing director (MD), and TTB’s MD, the special investigator team had requested requisite documents regarding the two Dubai-based companies.

 

The panel further said details of the companies should include documentation “that led to the licensing of Titan Trust Bank and the acquisition of controlling shareholding of Union Bank of Nigeria by these entities”.

 

The panel also requested the companies’ proof of funds, internationally verifiable bank statements (from incorporation of the entities to date), and the shareholder that gave interest-free loans to the two entities separately (names, nationality, source of the fund, proof of such funds, bank statements).

 

Also, the special investigator team requested information regarding the entities’ relationship with Emefiele, Lemo, Andrew Ojei, and others.

 

However, in its response to the panel’s letter on September 1, 2023, UBN requested that “we submit the documents/information requested for in printed and electronic formats for ease of your review and analysis”.

 

The bank also said Vink and Savara would be unavailable for the meeting, noting that “they will be available for the meeting as soon as they are in Nigeria which we hope will be soon”.

 

 

 

TTB SUGGESTED VINK, SAVARA CLARIFY INVOLVEMENT IN THE COMPANY

According to the special investigator team, based on earlier discussions with the entities, TTB suggested that Savara and Vink be invited to provide clarification on their share ownership and given seven days to make such clarification — “failure which they will forfeit their shares to the federal government”.

 

The special investigator team said it was shocked at the bank’s request with regard to the two shareholders, who were given the opportunity to appear before the panel since August 28, 2023, according to the letter.

 

The panel said instead of honouring the invitation and providing the requested documents, UBN informed the special investigator in its letter that “Mr. Cornelius Vink was out of the country on medical grounds” and that both “Messrs Vink and Savara will be available for the meeting as soon as they are in Nigeria which will be soon”.

 

 

Until the defence in the public domain, the special investigator team said it has “neither heard from them nor received the requested documents”.

 

 

“Accordingly, you are hereby invited to come along with Messrs Cornelius Vink and Mr. Rahul Savara to meet with the Team of Special Investigators by 2pm on 28th December 2023 at the Department of Force Intelligence DFI), Opposite Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Shehu Shagari Way, Area 11, Garki, Abuja; without fail or excuse,” the panel said.

 

“Please inform them to come along with all the documents/information requested from them by the letter to Mr. Cornelius Vink dated 28th August 2023 (attached herewith as Appendix 1). You will also be required to make additional statements to your earlier statement on that day.

 

“Kindly note that if Messrs Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara refused to attend this meeting and provide/defend the requested documents/information, it will be construed that they have decided to forfeit their purported shareholdings in TTB and Union Bank of Nigeria; irrespective of which vehicle that they are using to own the purported shares.

 

The panel warned that if Lemo also refuses to attend the meeting to provide additional statement to his earlier statement made in August 2023, “it will be construed that you misled the Nigerian public with your reaction” in the newspapers “which has gained wide publicity in both electronic and print media”.

 

The invitation, according to the special investigator team, is to further ensure that it is beyond reasonable doubt, “the f

ederal government has given the company a fair hearing”.

 

– The Cable

News and Report

Just In: President Tinubu approves N70,000 minimum wage

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President Bola Tinubu has approved N70,000 as the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers with a promise to review the national minimum wage law every three years.

 

More details later…

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Gov. Zulum Clarifies Son’s Purported Killing Of Chinese National At Indian Nightclub

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The Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has denied reports alleging that one of the sons has been arrested and sentenced to prison for the murder of some Indian citizens.

Reports has it that there were unverified rumours, especially on social media platforms, alleging that the first son of the governor, Umar Zulum Umara, killed the Chinese national during a fight at an Indian nightclub.

However, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on New Media, Abdurrahman Ahmed Bundi, dismissed the reports in a statement on Wednesday.

According to him, no son of the governor was arrested or charged with any crime.

The statement read, “attention of the Borno State Governor’s Media Unit has been drawn to rumours circulating that the son of the Borno State Governor has been arrested for the alleged murder of some Indian citizens.

“This misinformation was published in an online blog, Nairaland, titled “Son of Borno State Governor Murders Someone In India—Politics.” The blog claimed that the Governor also travelled to India, attempting to use diplomatic status to resolve the matter.

“It is on record that Governor Babagana Zulum was on a one-month vacation in Saudi Arabia for the 2024 Hajj and later travelled to Egypt to attend the annual ASUWAN forum conference in Cairo.

“The Media Unit would like to clarify and set the record straight that Nairaland and other online blogs have mischievously spread defamatory content without any speck of truth.

“We hereby warned Nairaland and all those who have spread the false information to pull down this misinformation from its website and platforms within the next 24 hours and offer an unreserved apology to Governor Zulum, his son, and the entire family, or risk legal action. The Governor shall also not hesitate to take legal action against any media outlet that continues to publicise this defamatory information on its platform.

“We would like to inform the public that none of Governor’s Zulum’s son was either arrested or charged with any crime, or involved in any unlawful activities anywhere.

“We urge the public to exercise caution when consuming and sharing information, particularly when it comes from unverified sources and blogs instead of credible media outlets.

“We enjoin all media organisations to engage in responsible journalism of truth and factual verification while recognising the potential harm and psychological trauma the spread of false information might have caused to the Governor’s family.”

 

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Over 600,000 Nigerians sought asylum abroad under Buhari – Report

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Over 600,000 Nigerians filed for asylum in other countries between 2016 and 2023, which were years under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari was President from 2015 to 2023 and handed over to President Bola Tinubu who was sworn in on May 29, 2023, after winning in the general elections the same year.

According to a report released on Wednesday, July 17, 2024, by Statisense, a data collection organisation, of a total of 664,384 in eight years, 355,792 persons sought asylum between 2016 and 2019 while 308,592 sought asylum between 2020 and 2023.

On a year-by-year basis, 66,862 sought asylum in 2016, 91,924 in 2017, 84,624 (2018), 112,382 (2019), 73,233 (2020), 83,105 (2021), 83,402 (2022), and 68,852 in 2023.

The figures indicate a surge from the past years, as Statisense noted that within 12 years – 2004 to 2015 – only 204,791 Nigerians filed for asylum in other countries.

In total, 869,175 Nigerians filed for asylum in the last 20 years, notably from 2004 to 2023.

The report was posted on the organisation’s X.com handle @StatiSense, citing the United Nations Refugee Agency.

In another report shared by the organisation on Wednesday, it was stated that the Republic of Niger topped countries with the most Nigerian refugees in 2023 with about 200,497 Nigerians and a total of 1,268,464 Nigerian refugees between 2015 and 2023.

Niger, a border country, shares proximity with Nigeria’s north, where residents battle a spate of insecurity in the region ranging from banditry, terrorism and herdsmen-farmers crisis.

Another report also revealed that Nigerians topped the list of African countries who sought asylum in Canada in 2023 with about 10,111 asylum seekers followed by Kenya with 1,345.  It stated that 1,345 Nigerians however sought asylum in the United Kingdom and 5,136 in the United States of America.

Source: The Punch

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