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Okogbule recounted how the portfolio investors obtained an unsecured loan of N6 billion from Diamond Bank in 2007, a sum he alleged the bank helped the expatriates to launderto the UK.
United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) “can neither confirm nor deny” its interest in a N6 billion alleged fraud case in which Allan Dick West Africa (ADWA) Limited allegedly made away with the unsecured loan granted by Diamond Bank.
ADWA has since been liquidated.
Joint liquidators of the UK firm, Akinwunmi & Busari and Ihegwoazu & Co, had set aside N200 million from the N750 million MTN Nigeria paid to settle debts ADWA owed local contractors.
The liquidators said they would use the money to prosecute the case in the UK against the parent company, Allan Dick Company (ADC) Limited, UK.
But the principal partners of the two law firms, Akinwunmi and Ihegwoazu, disclosed in an exclusive interview that the cost of prosecuting the case is more than the budgeted N200 million.
They said they opted to work with the SFO,the equivalent in Nigeria of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
But an SFO official TheNiche contacted said she could not confirm if the SFO has any interest in the case, even though the Nigerian lawyers claimed they had solicited the assistance of the crime buster.
An email sent to Nilima Fox, SFO Head of Media Department, read: “Joint liquidators of Allan Dick West Africa, Akinwunmi&Busari and Ihegwoazu& Co, both legal practitioners in Nigeria, said they have since applied to your office for assistance to bring the suspects to book.
“Please kindly oblige us with information on the progress you have made in your investigation. We request for facts, figures and statements on the case. Or is the case closed?”
Fox quickly replied that he was out of the office and advised that his colleague in the SFO press office, Susan Givens, be contacted.
Eventually, however, it was Jina Roe who responded to the enquiry. She wrote: “Without wishing to be unhelpful, I can neither confirm nor deny SFO interest in this matter.”
TheNiche pressed for precise information on the cross border transaction in which the UK firm allegedly transferred huge sums of money into personal and corporate accounts at a time it claimed to be insolvent.
The SFO replied, “We have no further comment.”
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, West and Gate (W&G) Limited, Paul Okogbule, and other local contractors affected by the case decided on a legal action against Akinwunmi&Busari and Ihegwoazu& Co, Diamond Bank, and all those on the other side of the matter.
A letter written to ADWA’s liquidators, Akinwunmi and Ihegwoazu, by Citi Lawyers (solicitors to West and Gate and the contractors of Allan Dick), demanded a refund of N200 million to the local subcontractors of ADWA.
Another letter to Diamond Bank also demanded a refund of N150 million to the subcontractors.
Both letters are dated December 19, 2013.
They demanded a refund of N200 million “illegally deducted by yourself and Mr. Victor Ihekweazu of the firm of Akinwunmi & Busari and Ihekweazu and Co respectively from the amount paid by MTN to our clients.
“Your failure to comply with the above demand within seven clear days of your receipt of this letter will leave us with the option of taking the appropriate legal steps in a competent court of law.”
The letter to Diamond Bank demanded a refund of N150 million “illegally deducted by your bank officials from the amount paid by MTN to our clients.
“Your bank’s failure to comply with the above demand within seven clear days of your receipt of this letter will leave us with the options of forwarding our petitions to the appropriate authorities and instituting legal action in a competent court of law.”
The contractors detailed how Diamond Bank lost N6 billion to ADWA, a telecommunications services firm promoted by ADC, its parent company in the UK.
Okogbule recounted in Lagos how the portfolio investors obtained an unsecured loan of N6 billion from Diamond Bank in 2007, a sum he alleged the bank helped the expatriates to launder to the UK.
ADWA commenced liquidation without repaying the loan and paying contractors who worked on MTN base stations.
The contractors alleged that Diamond Bank and its appointed liquidators short-changed the subcontractors that executed the work, paying them about N4 million each regardless of what they were owed.
The contractors alleged that contrary to bank rules, Diamond Bank, instead of going after its N6 billion loan, took a lion share from N850 million MTN paid to the local subcontractors of ADWA.
They alleged that the bank did this after it claimed to have written off the loan or sold it to the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
Investigation showed that the liquidators of ADC paid N150 million dividend to Diamond Bank.
During the banking industry audit in 2009, Diamond Bank had concealed the unsecured loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and as a result failed to sell same to AMCON.
Diamond Bank’s last financial result does not state that it wrote the loan off or sold it to AMCON in the wake of reforms initiated by suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)Governor Lamido Sanusi.
Also, the financial results of Diamond Bank for 2011 and 2012 do not report the recovery of the N150 million.
Despite appropriating N200 million of the N750 million MTN paid, the liquidators of ADWA did not take legal action against ADC in the UK.
The liquidators, who met in April last year with the creditors of ADWA, said in an interview that they could not initiate legal proceedings in the UK against British directors of ADC because it would cost huge sums of money.
But Okogbule, whose contract is worth over N17 million, countered that Diamond Bank may have decided to let sleeping dogs lie, having lost interest in the recovery of the loan.
He disclosed that two of the local contractors have died as a result of their inability to repay loans used to execute the contracts for MTN on behalf of ADWA.
Efforts to get Diamond Bank to respond to inquiries yielded no result.
The bank said after a meeting between journalists and its corporate communication executives and media consultants, TPT,that it would give an official response.
It is yet to do so.
When contacted, MTN General Manager (Corporate Affairs), Olufunmilayo Onajide, explained that the Allan Dick transaction ended up in a Lagos high court where the suit between the company’s liquidators and MTN was decided.

@ The Niche.

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JUST IN: Tinubu Meets Ibori, Wike, Makinde In Abuja




President Bola Tinubu is currently holding a closed door meeting with James Ibori, former Governor of Delta state; Nyesom Wike, the immediate past Governor of Rivers state; and Seyi Makinde, the Oyo State Governor.


The meeting is taking place at the President’s office in Aso Villa.


Reports say the three politicians arrived at the Aso Rock Villa at about 4:20om on Friday, 2 June, 2023.


Details shortly…

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Court Orders Union Bank To Pay Former Manager N20.2m Over Wrongful Termination…….



Justice Maureen Esowe of the Lagos division of the National Industrial Court has ordered the Union Bank to immediately pay the total sum of N20, 261, 810 million to one of its retired staff, Asenime Claire Ojuzo.


The judgment sum according to Justice Esowe, is the shortfall of gratuity Union Bank ought to pay Mrs. Asenime, upon her retirement.


Justice Esowe made the order while delivering judgment in a suit marked NICN/LA/534/2017, filed by a retired officer and the bank.


The claimant, a former senior manager at Union Bank, through her lawyer, Chief Paul Omoijiade, had asked the court to “declare that the purported approval by the bank of the claimant’s withdrawal from service which the Claimant did not apply for was wrong.


“A declaration that the purported determination of the Claimant’s contract of service by Union Bank is wrongful, same having been done without due process as laid down in the bank’s handbook and the bank’s custom and practice.


“A declaration that the purported removal of the claimant from his employment as Senior Manager (SM) without due process amounts to redundancy for which the claimant is entitled to redundancy benefit.


“A declaration that Union Bank is in arrears of N18, 114, 600 million, in the payment of the Claimant’s gratuity.


“A declaration that the deduction of the sum of N16,106,219.66 million, as outstanding loans, status car, unearned medical, outstanding status generator, and car from the claimant’s gratuity is unlawful.


“An order of the honourable court directing Union Bank to pay to Ojuzo the sum of N16,106,219.66 million, deducted from the claimant’s gratuity.


“An order of the honourable court directing Union Bank to pay to Ojuzo the sum of N18,114, 600 being a shortfall in the gratuity paid to her.


“An order of the honourable court that the bank pays the sum of N12 million, to the Claimant as compensation for the defendant’s wrongful and unlawful action withdrawing the claimant’s services without due process.


“An order of the honourable court for the payment of interest at the rate of 20% on the deductions and withheld gratuity under paragraphs (f) and (g) above.


“An order of the honourable court that the bank pay to the claimant the sum of N1 million, being the cost of litigation.


During the trial of the suit, the claimant told the court that she was a staff of the bank until her employment was wrongfully withdrawn on November 22, 2013, and her terminal benefits were never paid in full.


She also told the court that Union Bank also deducted the sum of N16, 106, 219.66 million, which the bank referred to as outstanding loans, unearned housing, status car, and unearned leave from her benefit, adding that, said she never applied for withdrawal service, therefore, the withdrawal of her services is tantamount to redundancy.


Defending the suit, Union Bank through its witness, Francis Idiaghe, who was led by Feliz O. Ogungbemi, told the court that there is no provision in the Trust Deed of variation that the claimant or any employee of Union Bank can remain in service till the age of 60. Rather, than underemployment, either party can determine the contract by giving a month’s notice.


The witness told the court that the Defendant, exercising her right under the contract, determined the contract by a letter of withdrawal of service dated November 22, 2016, issued to the claimant. Adding that the sum of N16,106,219.66 million, deducted from the claimant’s terminal benefits covers the loans (N13,683,188.86 million) taken by the claimant during the pendency of her employment and the outstanding and unpaid money (N2,247,210 million) covering the cost of her status car and a generating set.


Union Bank in its final written address, asked the court to determine “Whether the claimant is entitled to a declaration that the withdrawal of the Claimant’s employment is unlawful.


“Whether the Claimant having been paid her terminal benefit and having accepted same, can be heard to complain that his contract was not properly determined.


“Whether the termination of the Claimant of employment by the Defendant amounts to redundancy.


“Whether the Claimant is entitled to the sum of N18,114,600.00 (Eighteen Million One Hundred and Fourteen Thousand Six Hundred Naira) as outstanding gratuity from the Defendant.


“Whether the deduction of the sum from the Claimant’s terminal benefit in the liquidation of Claimant’s outstanding staff loans, status, generator loan, and unearned medical is unlawful.


“Whether by the evidence placed before this Honourable Court, the Claimant is entitled to damages in the sum of N12 million.


“Whether the Claimant is entitled to interest at the rate of 20% on the alleged outstanding gratuity and the amount allegedly deducted from her gratuity.


“Whether the Claimant is entitled to the sum of N1 million, as cost of litigation.”


Justice Esowe, in her judgment on the suit after the evaluation of parties’ submissions, and citing plethora of legal authorities, held that: “having gone through the claimant’s claim, evidence led in support, the defendant’s defense, evidence led in support, with the final written submissions of Counsel on both sides, this Court, while adopting all the issues formulated by Counsel, has distilled a sole issue for determination, to wit: Whether the Claimant has proved his case to be entitled to the reliefs sought.” culled: Business Hallmark.

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Dr. Ope Banwo Speaks On Transitioning  Naija Lives Matter Organization To Non-Partisan Mode 





***Says Organization Will Now Focus On Projects To Improve Nigerian Lives


Dr. Ope Banwo, the founder of Naija Lives Matter (NLM), a non-governmental organization committed to better lives for Nigerians has explained the organization’s decision to refocus its priorities.


In a statement released on Tuesday, Dr. Banwo stated that the organization’s mission and goals extend beyound the 2023 elections, electioneering campaigns, and politics.


According to him, the process of the organization had been clearly communicated from its very beginning to avoid any accusations of opportunism or policy inconsistencies, which are unfortunately common in our country when disagreements arise.


He said; “Since 2011, the NLM organization has consistently de-emphasized its partisan support for any specific candidate after the elections and campaigns are over, enabling it to concentrate on its global mandate of making Naija lives matter to all Nigerians, irrespective of their political affiliations.


“When Naija Lives Matter endorsed Peter Obi as our chosen candidate in August 2022, we made it clear that our partisan involvement would solely extend until the conclusion of the elections. Subsequently, we would focus on other aspects of our mission and goals, for which our organization was founded in 2011.


“In the past, we supported Jonathan through the GEJ project, rallied behind Buhari through the Buhari4Naija project in 2015, and even had a Moghalu4Naija project before eventually endorsing Peter Obi for the 2023 elections.


“Our commitment is not irreversibly tied to any particular politician; it lies in what we believe is in the best interest of Nigeria and its people,” Dr. Banwo said.


With the transition, NLM now moves beyond the recent election cycle, with a current focus on organizing projects aimed at making the lives of all Nigerians better.


“Henceforth, we shall therefore leave the legal and political affairs to lawyers and politicians, and respect the decisions of the courts, whatever they may be.


“In alignment with our mandate and the previously declared engagement period for the 2023 elections, we hereby inform our members that Naija Lives Matter will now shift its focus towards other aspects of our charter such as mass non-partisan mobilization on national issues, youth empowerment training, workshops, community assistance services for the less privileged in Nigeria, and other activities.


“In light of this new direction, we will convene meetings with our state directors and cell leaders to announce additional NLM initiatives that extend beyond politics in the coming days. These initiatives will focus on non-partisan national mobilization, youth empowerment through training and workshops, and community-building responsibilities.


“All our threads on WhatsApp and other social media platforms will once again be dedicated to NLM as we officially conclude the Peter Obi Nation Project for the 2023 elections,” Dr. Banwo noted.


Thanking members of the Peter Obi Nation Project of the NLM organization for their tremendous efforts during the 2023 elections, Dr. Banwo said that together they fought valiantly in a highly contested electoral process, adding that together they gave as much as they got in the very bitter partisan electioneering campaign for the organization’s endorsed candidate, Peter Obi.


“We did not compromise and many of us even paid the price of alienating some of our long-term friends in the heat of partisan battle.


“To this end, I am immensely proud of every individual involved in this monumental battle, and it has been an honor serving as the Chief Vawolence Officer for Naija Lives Matter side of things during this 2923 election cycle. We also offer No apologies for our passionate campaign for what we passionately believed in. It was what it was.


Acknowledging the fact that many individuals who joined NLM’s special Peter Obi Nation Project were primarily interested in supporting the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, and may not share NLM”s broader mandate and NGO charter, Dr. Banwo said that the organization would understand if those solely focused on partisan politics choose to disassociate themselves from the NLM organization across it numerous groups and threads, adding that the organizational continuity transcends any single election cycle.


“To be clear, this pivot by NLM does not mean we no longer support Peter Obi. We continue to stand behind his 2023 mandate which we believed in, wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, our organization was not established solely for this election cycle. We have followed the same refocusing approach after the elections in 2011 and 2015. Although the intensity of this cycle was undeniable, our policy remains intact.


“We hope that our fellow compatriots engaged in the highly intense campaign for 2023 will understand and respect our decision to shift away from combative partisan politics at this juncture. Instead, we aim to engage the Tinubu government in a non-partisan yet critical manner, reminding them of their promises and holding them accountable. Should the courts later remove him from office, we will also celebrate. But for now, we have a country to assist in governance.”

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