By Evelyn Usman
THERE are indications that trouble is currently brewing at the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force Micro Finance Bank, Obalende, Lagos, following the discovery of alleged irregularities in the administrative running of the bank by some directors. Information made available to Crime Alert revealed that there were alleged gross violations of the Central Bank of Nigeria Code of Corporate Governance by some of the directors.
To this end, former Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Alliu Atta, who founded the bank in 1993 as a commercial bank, is said to be unhappy with the state of affairs. Atta, as gathered, is currently making moves to meet with all retired Inspectors-General of Police with a view to investigating the alleged irregularities, threatening to sanction any staff, be he a member of the board of directors or at the managerial level, found culpable.
Investigation by Crime Alert revealed that some of the irregularities included alleged moves to post deputy general managers and assistant general managers out of the headquarters to head their respective branches across the country, as against the Securities and Exchange Commission Code of Corporate Governance and CBN’s, which state that anyone beyond managerial level should remain at the headquarters.
The decision was allegedly single-handedly taken by a senior director without the consent of the management staff did not go down well with those affected, as they saw it as below their designations. Also, there were alleged moves to ‘smuggle’ in a woman as an independent member of the Board of Directors, which was also said to have countered CBN’s code of Corporate Governance. The woman (names withheld), as gathered, also doubles as a consultant to the bank and owns a training outfit which carries out induction courses for new staff of the bank.
Although, it was gathered that induction courses for new staff were initially done in-house, apparently with a view to be prudent with the N21million budget for training and other financial exigencies in the bank, one of the senior directors was alleged to have contracted the induction course to the woman he intended smuggling into the Board of Directors, despite suggestions by some of the management staff against such move. A total of N5.2 million was said to have been spent for the induction course, an amount described as outrageous, compared to what ordinarily should be charged.
Another cause for the seeming trouble, as gathered, is the alleged imposition of a succession plan by the same senior director over the management staff, without their consent. A succession plan is a decision usually taken by the management staff on who succeeds a management staff at his exit.
Such plan, it was learnt, ought to have been discussed at the managerial level before being taken to the Board of Directors for approval. But some of the directors were reportedly taken aback after the plan was discovered to have been approved by the board of directors before it was brought to their notice.
Also, some of the directors allegedly have no shares in the bank. They were alleged to have been given shares in form of loans on arrival. They were also alleged to be having insiders dealings, such as taking money from the NPF Micro Finance bank as placements to banks where their spouses work, apparently to boost their spouses performance for possible promotion.
This, reportedly runs foul of the CBN’s Code of Corporate Governance which states that an independent director should not be partner or an executive of the company’s statutory audit firm , legal or other consulting firm that have a material association with the company.
Also, it was alleged that some of the management staff indulged in overdrawing their personal account without securing it with collateral as against the CBN Code of Corporate Governance. Crime Alert reliably gathered also that any staff who attempts to kick against the decision of the senior director, would be victimized. It was learnt that three persons who attempted to stand their grounds against the irregularities were allegedly shown the way out.
Grumbling in silence
Since their exit, it was gathered that most of the staff have been grumbling in silence for fear of being the next to be shown the exit door. One of management staff who reportedly decided to act otherwise by standing his ground on the path of justice is on the verge of suffering same fate with others that have been sent out except interventions from the powers that be prevailed.
The management staff whom Crime Alert gathered had been allegedly victimized by his boss for challenging his decisions, was reportedly asked to resign his appointment or be dismissed. The letter of dismissal dated May 2, 2013, and signed by the the company’s Secretary on behalf of the Chairman, Board of Directors, Mrs Florence Adebanjo, with the title ‘Resolution of the Board at its meeting held April 30, 2013, reads: “I am directed by the Board of Directors to inform you of its decision reached at the meeting held on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, to wit: that you be advised to forward to the Board your letter of resignation as a staff of the bank with immediate effect”.
In what was described as the height of gross violation of the Securities and Exchange Commission Code of Governance, a senior director in the bank was alleged to have spent more than the stipulated five years appointment without renewing the appointment. The senior director who is alleged to be the bone of contention in the bank, according to information at Crime Alert’s disposal, had been at the helm of affairs at the bank for 18 years.
When Crime Alert visited the NPF Micro Finance bank, Obalende, the Chairman, Board of Directors, Mrs Florence Adebanjo, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, simply stated that she could not speak on the matter, informing that the case of victimization was already in court. Appreciating Crime Alert for coming to get the bank’s side of the story, she said, “I have no comment on any of the issues raised. It would be prejudicial since it is already in court and I don’t want to offend the court of law”.
Also contacted, the founder of the NPF Micro Finance bank, Alhaji Alliu Atta, a retired IG, who was visibly shocked at the alleged irregularities, told Crime Alert that “we will call for a meeting of all retired IGs and investigate the case. We will ensure we do the correct thing according to CBN’s code of Corporate Governance and whoever is wrong will be asked to step down.”