By Innocent Anaba, Emeka Mamah,Â Abdulwahab Abdulah & Emma Ovuakporie
ABUJAâ€”The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has declared the Chairman, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Dele Oye and Mrs. Nananshettu Bedell, claimed by the commission as associates of the former Managing Director of Oceanic Bank, Mrs Cecilia Ibru, wanted in connection with the on-going investigation in the banking sector.
Meanwhile, if EFCC were to honour its words, all the bank executives in its custody will today be arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos to face various charges.
In a statement issued and signed by Head,Â Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Babafemi of the anti graft agency said: â€œBoth suspects who are close associates of the former MD/ CEO of Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru are wanted for offences bordering on conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and money launderingÂ running into billions of naira.â€
The anti-graft agency said the suspects were declared wanted after all efforts to get them to honour its invitation failed.
â€œThe Commission enjoins anyone with useful information that could lead to their arrest to contact any of its offices in Abuja , Lagos , Kano, Gombe, Port Harcourt and Enugu,â€ it added.
EFCC to arraign bank chiefs
Vanguard gathered that the commission had already drafted the charges.
In a telephone chat yesterday, EFCC spokesman, Mr Femi Babafemi said that the commission will approach the court to formally file the charges against the bank chiefs . He, however, noted that if the process was completed on time, the anti-graft body will bring them to court today.
While confirming that none of the detained bank officials has been released, said â€œall of them are still with us, though we made no arrest or none of those on wanted list appeared.â€
Babafemi, who confirmed that the stage is set for the officials to be arraigned said â€œ as I am talking to you, the stage is set for their arraignment. The papers (charges) will be filed tomorrow (Monday) in court. They will be arraigned immediately after the charges are filed at the Registry if the court would be ready and willing to take them, if there is time. If not, that means they will be arraigned on Tuesday.â€
Asked about the number of those to appear in court, the EFCC spokesman said all of them will be charged to court. He was however, silent on the fate of those that have been granted bail by the high court.
Intercontinental Bank non-executive directors petition EFCC over non-release
Meanwhile, the non-executive directors and members of Board of Directors of Intercontinental Bank Plc who were ordered released by a Lagos High Court, have petitioned the EFCC over their continued detention, despite a clear order of the court that they should be released on bail.
Justice Bukola Adebiyi of a Lagos High Court, had last week, ordered the EFCC to release forthwith on bail and on reasonable terms Dr. Raymond Obieri (Chairman), Chief Samuel Adegbite, Mr. Chris Alabi, Mrs Toyin Philips, Mr. Bayo Dada, Elder Sanni Adams, Engr. Hynacinth Enuha, Alhaji Isyaku Umar and Mrs Sienye Lulu-Briggs.
ProfÂ Gabriel Olawoyin (SAN), counsel to the nine non-executives, in the petition said â€œfollowing your commissionâ€™s refusal to release the applicants on bail on August 24, 2009, we were constrained to seek the leave of the High Court of Lagos, to enforce their fundamental rights to personal liberty on August 26.
â€œThe court ordered your commission to admit the applicants to bail and release them forthwith from detention upon provision of each of two sureties, amongst other conditions. On August 27, several attempts were made by plaintiff of court to serve the said order, but to no avail. On the first occasion, the responsible officer requested for a copy of the application filed in court and when the bailiff returned, the officer refused to accept service.
â€œWe therefore request that our client be admitted to bail on terms as stipulated by a duly constituted court of law with jurisdiction to grant the orders. For the avoidance of any doubt on this point, we draw your attention to section 46(1) of the constitution and Order 1, Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules.â€
ASSBIFI, NUBIFIE against sale of 5â€˜troubled banksâ€™
The Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), and the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), Â Â Â all unions in the countryâ€™s banking and insurance sector, yesterday spoke against the CBNâ€™s plan to sell the five â€œtroubled banksâ€ to foreign investors.
They spoke against the backdrop of a hint in London on Friday by the CBNâ€™s Governor, Mr Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, that a time table for the planned sale would soon be released.
Mr Olusoji Salako, ASSBIFIâ€™s Acting President, told newsmen in Lagos that any takeover of the banks by foreign investors whose backgrounds were unknown would endanger the nationâ€™s economy.
â€œWe are not discouraging investors from coming into the country, but we cannot allow foreigners that we do not know anything about to take over our banking institutions,â€ he said.
â€œWe do not know their pedigree. There is global meltdown; so how can these investors leave their countries to manage ours?â€ Salako queried.
He said ASSBIFI could only accept the idea if the terms of the agreement and the process were transparent.
According to him, the investorsâ€™ experience and competence in financial matters should also be proven.
Salako further said that workersâ€™ welfare should be adequately addressed before the investors were allowed to take over any of the banks, adding that the relevant international agencies, including the International Labour Organisation, ILO, should be involved in the negotiation for the workersâ€™ welfare.