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Arisekola, Otedola, Alex Ibru visit EFCC

By  Babajide KOMOLAFE
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday recovered   N19  billion from bank debtors, while Ibadan-based businessman, Alhaji Azeez Arisekola, Chairman of Zenon Oil and Chief Executive of African Petroleum Plc (AP Plc), Mr  Femi Otedola and first civilian Governor of  Delta State, Chief Alex Ibru, all visited the commission’s office in Lagos.

The commission also said that non of  the detained 16 executive bank directors had met the bail conditions set by the Commission.

Confirming the development to Vanguard, EFCC’s spokesman, Mr Femi Babafemi in a telephone chat said, “some of your colleagues (journalists) were at our office  yesterday and they got up to date on latest recoveries by the commission and those who visited us”.

Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao was at the EFCC office to clear some issues. Photo by Sylva Eleanya.
Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao was at the EFCC office to clear some issues. Photo by Sylva Eleanya.

He disclosed further that so far, about N19billion was recovered alone yesterday, while some other bank debtors, who visited the commission, promised to bring the money they are owing the affected five banks early next week.

He confirmed that Arisekola, Otedola and Ibru were at the commission’s office and when asked if they were allowed to go, he said “we don’t detain people. It is not our goal to keep people, once we attend to them, we allow them  go. So one should not feel that we detain every body that comes to the commission”.

On the detained bank executives, he said that any of the detainees that  was able to meet the bail conditions would be released without further delay, adding that the aim of the Commission in relocating to Lagos in the past few days had been partially successful.

According to him, the Commission  has been able to recover  N10 billion for Union Bank as at yesterday, adding that the payment includes a N3 billion commitment by the Chairman, Ikeja Hotels, Mr Felix Ibru, who promise  to pay the amount in two  installments of N1billion as first installment and N2 billion as second installment.

Similarly, Mr Femi Otedola of Zenon Oil was said to have made a commitment of  N4 billion, out of which N3 billion is to be paid to Union Bank, and N1 billion for Afribank as part of indebtedness to the banks.  Babafemi said that about N3 billion was also recovered for Intercontinental Bank from an undisclosed debtors.

According to a source, “Arisekola, arrived the EFCC office at Awolowo Road, Ikoyi at exactly 11:35 a.m. decked in a white guinea brocade with a swagger stick”. Arisekola, was chaufuer  driven into the premise of  the Anti-Graft Commission in a Mercedes Benz  with Reg. No. AQ 03 BDJ.

The source added that he refused to say what he came to the commission to do, but the source pointing out that the visit might not be unconnected with the N5 billion his company, Lister Oil Limited, is owing Intercontinental Bank Plc.

Otedola on his part, arrived at about 10am. and  also declined to speak to journalists. He went into the EFCC office, carrying some documents. Otedola’s oil company, Zenon Oil, is said to be indebted to Union Bank to the tune of N6.2 Billion.

The commission it will be recalled had following the sack by Central Bank of Nigeria of  the board and Managing Director of  five banks, namely Intercontinental Bank Plc, Finbank Plc, Afribank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc and  Union Bank of   Nigeria Plc, issued the debtors to the effected banks, a seven-day ultimatum to pay up or face prosecution.

And with the expiration of the ultimatum, some of the bank debtors have been trooping to the commission to deposit whatever they could put together.Meanwhile, counsel to Mr Cecilia Ibru, Chief Adeniyi Akintola, said that it was unacceptable for the Commission to detain his client perpetually in its cell beyond 48 hours, saying that the action amounted to a disregard to court orders that ordered otherwise.

He said, “the  state of her health was brought to the attention of the Commission but that it received no sympathetic consideration, rather, was she got was a bail conditions that is strange and alien to the 1999 constitution.”Akintola, however, warned that if the demands of  his client were not met within a  reasonable time, we have no other option than to go tocourt against the Commission, with all the attendant embarrassment.

We want to pay, debtors of safe banks cry out

IN apparent bid to avoid their names being included in the second list of bank debtors by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), debtors have started  trooping to  banks to restructure their loans.

Bankers who confirmed this to Saturday Vanguard said that most of the debtors have started coming by themselves asking for  repayment plan or asking  that their loans be restructured. The debtors also begged their banks not to de-categorize their loans as non-performing loansIt would be recalled that the CBN had said that it would publish another list which would contain all bank debtors whose loan is non-performing.

Throughout last week the apex bank worked on the expected debtors list asking the banks to verify the status of all their non-performing loans.

A branch manager in one of the big banks said that the debtors don’t want to see their names published as bank debtors and so they have been coming to the bank requesting for repayment plan. “Some however appealed for restructuring of  their loans with the promise to pay the accruing interest rate. These are people that you usually run after to discuss their loan and when they are going to pay back”.

Head of Risk Management in another bank told SaturdayVanguard that the debtors have indicated willingness to repay the loans but the economy is not doing well and this is affecting their businesses hence the appeal to banks for loan restructuring.

Meanwhile, Saturday Vanguard investigations revealed that with this development banks are revisiting cases of bad loans that have long been closed. Some of these loan have been written off more that three years ago.

These debtors have money they just decided not to pay because they are influential or connected to board members. But now that the CBN has asked us to submit the names of debtors with non-performing loans.We have asked them to repay otherwise we would include their names as non-performing debtors, a banker said.

Last week, in order to avoid the mistake and errors associated with the first debtors list the CBN ordered all the banks to verify their debtors list.

CBN spokesman, Deputy Director, Corporate Affairs, Alhaji M.M Abdulahi  confirmed this to Vanguard yesterday saying to ensure accuracy of the information in the lists the CBN is working with the banks to verify the names and the amount owed by each debtor. “We have  asked them to verify all the names and ensure they are accurately spelt and that the value of the loans are accurate and up to date,” He said.

It would be recalled two weeks ago the apex bank released the list of individuals and corporate bodies owing the five banks, whose loan is not performing. But the generated controversy as the debtors faulted the list. Some of them denied owing the banks while others faulted the value of the loan published against their names.

Others denied having any relationship with the companies against which their names were listed as directors. Consequently the CBN issued an advertorial where it apologised for the typographical errors.

Cecilia Ibru challenges bail condition, threaten court action if …

Former Managing Director of the Oceanic Bank PLC, Mrs Cecilia Ibru has criticized  her continued detention in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Lagos without any charge preferred against her by the anti graft commission.

In the petition to the Chairman of EFCC, Mrs Farida Waziri, which was copied to the NBA,   Mrs Ibru also challenged the N1 billion and the production of a serving minister as bail conditions imposed on her by the anti graft agency describing it as “ condition that is strange and alien to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and other extant laws of the country.”

The petition written by her lawyers and signed by Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) condemned the manner in which the operatives of the EFCC are handling the case, stating that they have disregarded the  subsisting order of an high court, granted Ibru to enforce her fundamental rights against the commission.

Lamenting the worrisome and deteriorating health condition of Ibru, the lawyers cautioned that if she is not released urgently, they will be forced to return to court to compel her release from custody, without delay.

The letter read in part that “Dr. (Mrs.) C. Ibru (OFR) is our client who reported to your office on Wednesday, 26th August, 2009 from her hospital bed on your invitation. Since her said report, she has been held in your Commission’s custody without any charge preferred aga\inst her and without her being granted bail to go home in spite of her failing health.

“The state of her health was brought to the attention of your Commission through a medical report but same received no sympathetic consideration. Rather, what she got was a bail condition that is strange and alien to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and other extant laws of the country.

“Suffice it to say that our client had earlier sought and obtained an order of a Court of competent jurisdiction to enforce her fundamental human rights against your Commission, the Police and other security agencies on 25th August, 2009 in Suit M/671/09 which was served on your Commission on 26th August, 2007.

Copy of the said order which speaks for itself and the affidavit of service are attached herewith for ease of reference. Respect for the rule of law in all its ramifications is sine-qua-non to the right against all ills of the society and we dare say that no resort of jack-book tactics in fighting same has ever succeeded in any part of the world.

“It is rather unfortunate that years after, your Commission hd been upbraided over this illegal act, it has found it expedient to go back to the unconstitutional act of asking our client to produce a bond of N1 billion and a serving Minister as a surety. These are conditions which no Court of competent jurisdiction will impose on any suspect.

“We however wish to demand that your Commission should operate within the ambit of the law setting it up and most importantly the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, respect the orders of the Court and their rulings by allowing our client to go home on bail on constitutionally recognised conditions or in the alternative charge her to Court within 24 hours as stipulated under the provisions of Section 35 of the Constitution.

The idea of holding a suspect first before investigating a crime is not part of our law and is alien to the country’s Constitution. This was made clear in the attached Court order. This demand you will agree is not too much for us to make and certainly not too much for you to meet.”

He said  if the demands contained in the letter are not met within a reasonable time, “we would have no option that to return to Court against your Commission with all the attendant embarrassment.” The counsel noted that the idea of holding suspects first before investigating a crime “is not part of our law and is alien to the country’s constitution.”


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