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ZENITH BANK PLC IN OIL BLOCK FRAUD … DRAGS NNPC TO COURT

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Zenith bank is a Public Limited Financial institution licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria for the provision of banking services and having its registered office at Plot 87, Ajose Adeogun Street, Victoria Island Lagos, Nigeria while Minister of Petroleum Resources is an officer of the Federal Government of Nigeria who is responsible for the Ministry of Petroleum resources which is saddled with the responsibilities of licensing of all petroleum and gas operations and activities including concession policies in the oil and gas sector of the Nigerian economy and ensuring compliance with regulations and processing of application for licenses, leases and permits in the petroleum and gas industry of Nigeria.

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is located at NNPC Towers, Central Business District, Herbert Macaulay Way, Garki, Abuja. NNPC is an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria established to engage in all commercial activities relating to the Petroleum industry and to enforce all regulatory measures relating to the general control of the Petroleum sector through its petroleum inspectorate department. Meanwhile, Nigdel United Oil Company Ltd, situated at 20, Elias Close, Victoria Island, Lagos, registered in Nigeria under the Companies and Allied Matters Act.

However, Nigdel United Oil Company Ltd (NUOCL) is a customer of Zenith and has maintained banker/customer relationship.  NUOCL applied to Minister of Petroleum Resource (MPR) and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to own a bid for an oil prospecting license (OPL 233) in Nigeria 2006 Mini Round Bidding for Oil Blocks.

Under the terms and conditions of the grant of the Oil Block, NUOCL was to pay a total signature bonus commitment of the sum of $11,000,000,00 (Eleven Million US Dollars) to the MPR and NNPC respectively.

In pursuance of the banker/customer relationship existing between NUOCL and Zenith bank, NUOCL approached his bank (Zenith Bank) for credit facilities in the sum of $11,000,000,00 (Eleven Million US Dollar) to be utilized for the payment of the signature bonus in respect of OPL 233 to be allocated to NUOCL by MPR and NNPC.

zenith bank building
Nigeria United Oil Company Ltd’s application to Zenith bank for credit facility and for the relationship between them, Zenith bank grant the credit facilities in two tranches in the total sum of $11,000,000.00 US Dollar to enable NUOCL finance the payment of the signature bonus for OPL 233 it won from NNPL and MPR

That pursuant to the bank’s offer letter which was duly accepted the NUOCL, Zenith Bank granted NUOCL a short term loan in the sum of $2,750,000,00 (two million, seven hundred and fifty thousand dollar) for a tenor of ninety (90) days to finance payment of signature bonus commitment in respect of OPL 233 Oil block to be allocated to NUOCL by Minister of Petroleum Resources and NNPC. In furtherance of NUOCL’s acceptance of the credit facility, NUOCL forwarded to Zenith board resolution accepting the said facility.

It is the terms of the agreement between Zenith bank and NUOCL as contained in the Zenith bank credit facility $2,750,000,00 shall be secured by NUOCL assigning 25% of its interest in the Oil Block allocated to her by NNPL and MPR in favour of Zenith bank.

By the agreement between Zenith Bank and NUOCL, NUOCL was obligated to execute an irrevocable assigning 25% right in respect of the Oil Block to Zenith but NUOCL failed and refused to do so.

Also, Zenith bank granted another credit facility in the sum of $8,250,000,00 to NUOCL vide an offer letter which was duly accepted by Zenith Bank. In accepting the said credit facility, NUOCL forwarded its board resolution to Zenith Bank.

The said credit facility in the sum of $8,250,000,000 was for a tenor of twelve months and it was granted to enable NUOCL finance the payment of the 75% balance of the signature bonus commitment payment in respect of OPL 233 Oil Block to be allocated by NNPC and MPR respectively.

The aforesaid credit facilities of $11,000,000,00 was secured by NUOCL was of assignment of 100% of its right in the OPL 233 Oil Block allocated to NUOCL by NNPC and MPR

By the terms of the letter dated 11th Sept., NUOCL was obligated to execute an irrevocable mandate assigning 100% of its rights in the OPL 233 OIL Block allocated to by NNPC and MPR in favour of Zenith bank.

However, Zenith Bank, following the terms of the credit facilities advance to the NUOCL prepared an irrevocable mandate assigning 100% of the NUOCL’s interest in the OPL 233 to Zenith bank to serve as security for the credit facilities Zenith Bank advanced to the NUOCL, but NUOCL refused to execute the said irrevocable mandate.

Zenith bank management revealed that the credit facility in the sum of $2,000,000,00 granted to NUOCL vide offer letter dated 14th August, matured on 17th November, which the credit facility in the sum of $8,250,000,00 granted to NUOCL vide Zenith bank offer letter dated 11th September, ever since the maturity of the aforesaid facilities, NUOCL was wilfully and persistently refused and failed to liquidate same Oil Block.

Source have it that Zenith bank revealed that NUOCL, from onset had the intention not to pay the credit facilities to the bank and that was why it failed/refused to execute the irrevocable mandate assigning its 100% interest in the OPL 233 as security for the loan.

The two parties agreed on interest rate payable in respect of the facilities Zenith Bank granted NUOCL was 25% per annum.

Zenith Bank aver that, the sum of $15,900,089,99 was outstanding in the account of NUOCL with the bank being the unpaid credit facilities the bank availed NUOCL plus interest. With this claims and intentions, Zenith Bank Plc as dragged NNPC, MPR and NUOCL to court.

NNPC claims that this is a fraudulent act/move by Zenith Bank as NNPC has never part of any agreement made by either party.

However, all the claims by Zenith are not acceptable by NNPC as a defence statement was issued.

NNPC as hereinafter expressly denies each and every averment of facts contained in the statement of claims as if same has been set down and denied seriatim.

NNPC is not in a position to admit to most of the claims mentioned by Zenith Bank but however admits that NUOCL is a customer of Zenith Bank and also won the bid for an oil prospecting License (OPL 233) and was also awarded license thereto after fulfilling all the requirement of the law.

We gathered that, Zenith bank should have encourage its client in every way to pay up instead of dragging them to court.

Moreso, NNPC revealed that, was not a part to any agreement entered between Zenith Bank and NUOCL. There exists no privy of contract between NNPC and either Zenith Bank or NUOCL in respect of any loan facility or any transfer of any interest in license issued.

NNPC is not aware of any of such agreement entered between Zenith and NUOCL.

NNPC cannot be bound by any agreement which he was not a party to.

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Between Gov. Hope Uzodimma And Imo Hoteliers…….

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Governor Hope Uzodimma has prevented the proposed strike by the Imo Hoteliers Association.

The strike was scheduled to commence on Tuesday but the Chairman of the association, Mr. Chima Chukwunyere announced in Owerri that the strike has been suspended.

Chukwunyere said that the proposed strike was suspended after due consultations with Gov. Uzodimma.

According to him, Uzodimma promised to personally intervene to solve all the outstanding issues raised by the association.

“The governor condemned the actions of sealing and looting of the hotels illegally and directed that no ministry should use consultants in revenue collection.

” He promised to convene a meeting of the executives of the Imo Internal Revenue Service and those of the Nigeria Hotel Association, Imo chapter, to harmonize the demand notice issued to the hoteliers.“

Chukwunyere said that the governor also advised members to pay taxes to enable the Imo government to function and serve the state better.

The association on Sept. 10 threatened to embark on strike over alleged multiple taxations, illegal sealing of hotels, and unprofessional conduct of revenue collectors.

 

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Despite his “expulsion”, ADC presidential candidate, Kachikwu, makes INEC list

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Mr Kachikwu was expelled from the party last Friday by the Ralph Nwosu-led NWC.

The embattled presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dumebi Kachikwu, has been named among candidates validly nominated by political parties for the 2023 presidential election despite his “expulsion” from the party.

Mr Kachikwu was among the 18 presidential candidates approved by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday.

The Ralph Nwosu-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party announced the expulsion of Mr Kachikwu from the party last Friday for alleged anti-party activities.

He was expelled along with seven other key party leaders following the recommendation of a seven-member disciplinary committee earlier set up by the ADC NWC. The NWC had earlier on 2 September placed the presidential candidate on suspension.

Mr Nwosu, in a statement issued late Friday, said the disciplinary committee found Mr Kachikwu guilty of allegations of gross misconduct, and gross violations of its constitution, among others.

But in its reaction the following day, the interim leadership of the ADC dismissed Mr Kachikwu’s purported expulsion.

The interim National Chairman of the Party, Patricia Akwashiki, in a statement, described the action of the erstwhile chairman, Mr Nwosu, as the antics of a sinking man clutching at straws.

The crisis rocking the ADC has its genesis in the call for the resignation of the national chairman by 27 state chairmen of the party, having spent 17 years in the office.

At the time of filing this report, we could not confirm if the party’s leadership had made formal or legal requests to the commission to remove the candidate from the list.

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Stella Obasanjo’s brother, John Abebe, arraigned for fraud

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Dr. John Abebe, the younger brother of a former First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, was on Monday arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday before the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja over allegations of fraud.

Abebe was arraigned alongside a former Head of Firstbank Plc, United Kingdom Correspondent Office, Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, before Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe on six charges of conspiracy, stealing, and obtaining money under pretence.

Part of the counts against the defendants read: “That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; stealing the sum of N120 million worth of property of Arsenal Technologies Limited.”

“That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; obtaining by false pretence the sum of N120 million property of Arsenal Technologies Limited under the pretence that your property lying being and situate at 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos State, which you pledged as the security to the Arsenal Technologies Limited was unencumbered, which representation you knew to be false.”

“That you Dr. John Abebe and Inducon Nigeria Limited, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and to gain for yourself the sum of $1,000,000.00 or its Naira equivalent from Arsenal Technologies Limited by false pretence to procure the execution of valuable security to wit; a deed of assignment between Inducon Nigeria Limited and Arsenal Technologies Limited, wherein you falsely claimed that the property lying being and situate at No. 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos was unencumbered and that you have full powers to assign and transfer the said property to the assignor; Arsenal Technologies Limited.

According to EFCC, the offences committed are contrary to Sections 280(1), (12), 8 (7), 285(1) and 278(1)(b) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following their plea, the prosecutor, Sulaimon urged the court to fix a trial date and to remand the defendants in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services until the hearing and determination of the charge.

However, the defense counsel, Anthony Popo and Sam Etaifo urged the court to grant their clients bail in the most liberal terms.

While moving the bail application on behalf of Abebe, Popo told the judge that the matter before her is a commercial transaction between the first defendant and the nominal complainant, which he is ready to settle out of court.

He also claimed that Abebe had paid back the sums of $100,000 and N30 million to the complainant and had also deposited the title document of 26 acres of land and the documents of a property in London to show his seriousness to resolve the matter.

The lawyer further submitted that the defendant would not jump bail since he never violated the terms of the administrative bail granted to him by the EFCC.

The prosecutor did not oppose the application but urged the court to impose stringent terms that will ensure the defendant’s appearance in court for their trial.

In her ruling, Justice Abike-Fadipe granted the first defendant bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum.

She directed that the surety must be a resident of Lagos and must deposit the title document of a land property whose value must not be less than N20m

The judge also admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum, who must be a resident of the state.

Justice Abike-Fadipe further ordered that the defendant shall continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted to them by the EFCC but if they failed after seven days to perfect the terms of the bail she granted them, they shall be arrested and remanded in prison.

She adjourned the case to December 6 for commencement of trial.

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