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Nduka Obaigbena In Fresh Trouble: Arise TV, London-based global news network goes off air – leaving UK staff unpaid

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Just before 5pm on 14 January, something strange happened to television channel Arise, a small African television network operating out of London – it suddenly vanished from the airwaves.

The message beneath logo of the station, which is broadcast on Sky channel 519 and which operates from prime studios overlooking Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, simply read: “Normal service will resume as soon as possible.”

But those who work at the channel, run by a flamboyant media baron,Nduka Obaigbena, knew there was more to it than transmission problems.

Nduka Obaigbena, sometimes known as “The Duke”, and who has been photographed in the company of George Bush and Tony Blair, and hangs out with stars including Naomi Campbell and Beyonce, has employed many senior British journalists and is being pursued over a trail of debts – estimated at £3m and including nearly £1m owed to the station’s own workers.

The network faces a High Court winding up petition brought by a British television company, having only settled a similar action brought by a British publisher last summer. It also owes money to global news agencies which supply its pictures, including Reuters and Associated Press.

Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, found Arise in breach of its licence for failing to pay its annual licence fee by the required date. The watchdog is facing calls for Arise, which broadcasts on Sky (but was removed from Freeview late last year) to be stripped of its licence. The station previously went off air late last year as 62 Arise workers, supported by the NUJ and Bectu media unions, began collective legal action for £825,000 unpaid wages.

A skeleton team returned to work at New Zealand House on 11 January after receiving cash advances of around £250 a day. “Their view is that if they let the channel die there is little or no chance of retrieving the fees they are owed,” one of the team told The Independent.

David Lee, who resigned as a production editor and claims he is owed £20,000, said: “It’s disgusting, now I’m faced with a tax bill that I can’t pay. Two staff in the New York office have lost their houses because they were unable to make their monthly mortgage repayments.”

Obaigbena, who is understood to be extremely wealthy and owns Nigeria’s biggest newspaper This Day, has explained his financial problems in terms of “the collapse of oil prices” and the subsequent restrictions in Nigeria on foreign exchange.

He noted that almost all Arise workers were freelance and claimed to have uncovered a wages scam. “We are in dispute…with some who made invalid claims which we discovered during a routine audit,” he told The Independent. “The courts may have to determine this. Some saw Arise as a gravy train to take advantage of. They are wrong.”

 

 

Source: Independent UK

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Nigerian Bank MD’s colluded with government officials to re-loot recovered Abacha loot – EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has accused commercial banks of colluding with government officials to re-loot recovered loot of the late dictator, Sani Abacha.

In December 2017, the Federal Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Switzerland on the return and monitoring of the $322 million Abacha loot.

The proceeds were intended for Conditional Cash Transfer under the Social Investment Programme which began in December 2016, under ex-president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The looted funds were meant to provide N5,000 monthly stipends to the most vulnerable Nigerians across the country.

However, on Sunday, a spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, in a statement, said that the anti-graft agency opened investigations into other alleged financial malpractices from the ministry; involving the COVID-19 funds and the World Bank- assisted loan coordinated by the Humanitarian Ministry to assist poor Nigerians.

The EFCC said, “Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving COVID -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate. Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly. Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.’’

The commission also revealed that N32.7 billion and $445,000 had been recovered from both past and suspended officials of the humanitarian ministry.

It added that the commission initiated investigations into the affairs of the humanitarian ministry inviting former minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and her successor, Beta Edu, suspended by President Bola Tinubu in January for alleged abuse of office.

 

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EFCC recovers N32.7bn, $445,000, faults Betta Edu, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, Halima Shehu

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has faulted suspended Humanitarian Minister, Betta Edu, her predecessor, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and the Coordinator of the National Social Insurance Programmes Agency, Halima Shehu, while revealing that a combined total of N32.7bn and $445,000 has been recovered so far from ministry.

The commission made the development known on Sunday via its official X handle in response to rumours concerning the progress of its investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The statement signed by the spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, read, “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate. Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly.

Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.

“On the issue of the works of the Commission against Naira abuse, dollarization of the economy and the enforcement of all extant laws relating to them, the EFCC appreciates the avalanche of public awakening, support and involvement demonstrated so far. Increasingly, members of the public are drawing the attention of the Commission to video recording of abuse of the Naira by Nigerians from all walks of life. These gestures amply demonstrate rising consciousness of the public to the sanctity of our national currency and the need for collaborative engagement to sustain the tempo.

“To this end, the Commission will always investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of the Naira. Old videos being exhumed and flying around for the attention of the Commission are noted as the Commission is sensitive to the fact that its Special Task Force against Naira Abuse and Dollarization of the economy commenced operations on February 7, 2024. However, going forward, new videos of such infractions will be investigated and prosecuted.

At the moment, the Commission is investigating several celebrities involved in Naira abuse. Many of them have made useful statements to the Commission and many more have been invited by investigators working on the matter. The EFCC will not relent in its no-sacred-cow mode of operations and the public should be wary of running afoul of laws against the crime.”

 

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CAC Places First Bank Records On Caveat Over Litigation

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The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking…

The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking the board of the bank as a result of multiple court cases filed by aggrieved directors.

The crisis rocking the bank stemmed from protests by shareholders who were kicking against the bank’s internal governance and shareholding structure, as a result of which some of them have taken their grievances to the court.

One of such is the case of Olusegun Samuel Onagoruwa v. FBN Holdings Plc in Suit No. FHC/L/CP/1271/2022), which is challenging the capacity of the Board of Directors of FBN to appoint new persons to fill vacant slots.

Onagoruwa in his suit is seeking “an order setting aside, nullifying, annulling and/or quashing the appointments and approvals of Mr. Olusola Adeeyo, Mr. Viswanathan Shankar, Mrs. Remilekun Adetola, Mr. Anil Dua and Mrs. Fatima Ibrahim as Non-Executive Directors of First Bank of Nigeria Limited made on the 20th day of March, 2024, by FBN Holdings PLC during the pendency of this action and in defiance of the subsisting order of this Honourable Court made on the 15th day of July, 2022.”

The motion also seeks an order restraining the above-named non-executive directors from acting or taking any steps as non-executive directors of the bank.

The current court case follows similar four other cases pending at the Federal High Court in Lagos and Abuja challenging the internal governance of FBN Limited, in addition to existing court injunctions restraining the bank from holding the last two Annual General Meetings which the bank went ahead to hold.

In a new twist to the crisis, the Corporate Affairs Commission in a letter entitled.

“Re: notification of pendency of suit no. fhc/l/cp/1575/23 against FBN holdings plc, and subsisting interim orders of the Federal High Court made on the 9th day of August 2023 restraining FBN holdings plc from holding or proceeding with its annual general meeting purportedly held on the 13th day of August 2023”, weighed in on litigations threatening to tear the old generation bank apart.

Signed on behalf of the Registrar General of CAC by Chidimma Maureen Nwite, the Commission in a letter to lawyers to some of the parties in court against FBN Holdings said: “This is to inform you that the record of FBN Holdings PLC RC: 916455 has been placed on caveat pending the determination of Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1575/2023.”

A shareholder, Mr. Olalekan Babalola, said “it is imperative for the authorities to find a solution to this lingering crisis as Nigeria cannot afford another major bank’s collapse at this critical time

He called for urgent resolution of all court cases in the overall interest of depositors, shareholders and other stakeholders of the bank before further damage is done to the oldest Nigerian bank.

 

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