August 27, 2009

EFCC detains Ibru; Otedola, others to report today

By Innocent Anaba, Babajide Komolafe & Albert Akpor
LAGOS—It was an anti-climax yesterday, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which had promised bank debtors and former bosses hell on earth surprisingly entered into repayment schedules with the debtors, while inviting others for discussion today.

However, former Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Oceanic Bank Plc, Mrs Cecilia Ibru, who was declared wanted on Sunday by the anti- graft agency was, yesterday taken into custody after she was said to have voluntarily submitted herself to the commission.

EFCC detains Ibru; Otedola, others to report today

Cecilia was ushered into EFCC’s Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos office at about 2.45pm, in a black coloured Land Cruiser Sports Utility Van, with number plate, OBY400EKJ.

She was ushered into the office of the EFCC chairman, Mrs Farida Waziri for interrogation and after about 38 minutes, she was led to the EFCC detention camp in Okotie-Eboh Street, also in Ikoyi , Lagos

Meanwhile, Chairman of Zenon Oil and Chief Executive of African Petroleum Plc, AP Plc, Mr Femi Otedola, Director General of Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, and chairman of Transcorp, Mrs Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke and Chairman of Chanchangi Airline, Alhaji Ahmadu Chanchangi, were asked to appear before the commission today.

From yesterday’s consultations, the sum of N600million was said to have been recovered for Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.

Also, to escape the EFCC’s hammer, some top bank debtors, were said to have scurried to the commission’s office in Lagos to tender title documents of choice properties, as guarantees that they would repay their loans.

A source told Vanguard that scores of notable bank debtors trooped to EFCC premises yesterday, to beat the deadline to pay up, which expired on Tuesday night.

In another development, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, CIBN, has apointed 1st Vice-President, Mr. Laoye Jaiyeola as Acting President in place of the former Chief Executive Officer, Intercontinental Bank PLC. Mr. Erastus Akingbola.

Ibru has no plan to run

However, before Cecilia Ibru was led to the EFCC detention, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Lamido Sanusi was sighted at the EFCC in Ikoyi. Sanusi, who appeared in his traditional bow tie was accompanied by some officials of the apex bank

Meanwhile, Mr Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), counsel to Cecilia Ibru was also sighted at the EFCC office, apparently to serve the order of the court directing that EFCC not to violate his client’s fundamental human rights. Mr. Akintola, who spoke with newsmen, expressed the hope the anti-graft body would respect the ruling of the court.

EFCC’s spokesman, Mr Femi Babafemi, meanwhile said that five separate teams of detectives had been sent out to hunt the bank debtors, adding that each of the team had the mandate to effect arrest of about ten debtors in a day. He said that there would be no hiding place for any of the bank debtors, pointing out that the best option for the bank debtors was to submit themselves to the commission.

According to him, some of the bank debtors have visited the commission, adding that those who made pledged or paid up were allowed to go, while 24 bank debtors have so far been quizzed by the commission.

Following the imminent clamp down on the sacked CEOs of the five banks as well as other bank debtors by the commission, Dr Cecilia Ibru, approached a Lagos high court to stop her arrest. Ibru and Akingbola are being sought for alleged abuses of credit process, insider trading, capital market manipulation and money laundering, running into billions of naira.”

Banks’ debtors surrender choice properties

To escape EFCC’s hammer, some top bank debtors yesterday scurried to the agency’s office in Lagos to tender title documents of choice properties, as guarantees they would repay their loans.

A source confided that scores of notable bank debtors trooped to the premises yesterday to beat the deadline to pay up.

The EFCC’s threat to the debtors to pay up or face prosecution, the source noted, was paying off, as about N6.7 billion had been recovered, as at yesterday evening, from debtors of Oceanic Bank alone.

The one-week ultimatum given to the debtors of troubled banks to pay up expired yesterday, and the commission had vowed to turn the heat on the debtors by going all out today in search of defaulting ones.

The EFCC Chairman, Mrs Waziri, ahead of the start of the manhunt for the debtors, relocated to Lagos, yesterday, alongside 100 operatives and two units of mobile policemen.

Waziri said some of the recalcitrant debtors were secretly plotting “to escape arrest and prosecution for economic crimes.”

Obieri still in detention

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Intercontinental Bank, Chief Raymond Obieri was still in the EFCC custody.

CIBN gets Ag. President

A statement signed by the Registrar/Chief Executive of the Institue, Mr. Uju Ogubunka said, “ the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) notes that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has, following the outcome of the on-going special examination on banks, taken some measures designed to strengthen the banking system, protect creditors and ensure the safety of depositors’ funds.

The measures were taken in exercise of the powers conferred on the CBN under the Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 2007.

“Given the CIBN’s statutory roles of, among others, ensuring the furtherance, maintenance and observance of ethical standards and professionalism by banking practitioners in Nigeria, the Institute expresses its support to all legitimate efforts aimed at the safety and soundness as well as sustainable growth and development of banks and the banking industry in Nigeria.

“As a responsible and responsive professional body, the Governing Council of the Institute met in a special session and resolved that:

“The Institute will continue to support all efforts aimed at sanitising the banking industry and indeed the economy and will continue to collaborate with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure the protection of the interests of all Stakeholders in the banking industry.

“All agencies and individuals involved in the task of sanitizing the Banking System should endeavour to approach their duties professionally and in strict adherence to the extant laws of the land, due process and best practice.

In the light of the on-going developments in the banking industry and in accordance with Section 4(5) of the Institute’s Act of 2007, the First Vice President of the Institute, Mr. ‘Laoye Jaiyeola, FCIB, has been appointed as the Acting President of the Institute.”