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Okupe faults Subomi Balogun’s claims of being first indigenous banker

The Estate of late Chief Matthew Adekoya Okupe has faulted the assertions by Otunba Olasubomi Balogun that Agbonmagbe Bank Limited set up by late Chief Okupe and which later metamorphosed into Wema Bank Plc was engaged in money lender enterprise at inception.

Otunba Olasubomi Balogun

A statement issued yesterday by Alaba Adegboyega Okupe, the sole surviving executor of the Will and trustee of the estate of the deceased, described Otunba’s claim published in an interview he granted Saturday Vanguard which was published on January 6 2018 as false.

According to the statement, “Agbonmagbe Bank Limited, now known as Wema Bank Plc was duly Incorporated as a Limited liability Company on 2nd May, 1945 and commenced a duly Licenced Banking Business on 4th June, 1945. On Saturday 2/5/2015, Wema Bank Plc celebrated its 70th founding Anniversary, taking its cue from Agbonmagbe Bank Limited; at The Convention Centre, Eko Hotel & Suites in Victoria Island, as the longest surviving indigenous Bank in Nigeria.

“Agbonmagbe Bank Limited had a modest beginning with Branches at Ebute-Meta, Mushin, Ifo, Abeokuta, Sagamu, Ago-Iwoye, Ijebu-Igbo. Agbonmagbe Bank Limited then had several customers who had business transactions with the then Nigerian Railways. These customers were merchants/traders dealing in freight of mainly “KOLANUTS” from the South to the North and Cattle/Rams inter alia from the North to the South through the Nigerian Railways.

“In the mid 1950s when the export of “Timber” was booming Agbonmagbe Bank Limited had Nigerian Timber exporting customers who were exporting timber to Europe and in whose favour Letters of Credit were opened through Agbonmagbe Bank Limited. Natwest Bank in U.K acted as Bankers for the European Buyers and Agbonmagbe Bank Limited acted as the Correspondent Bank for Natwest Bank the issuing European Bank. This relationship between Natwest Bank and Agbonmagbe Bank Limited blossomed and ‘continued into the 1960s. Later from Mid 1960s there was a Bank in the then W. Germany that acted as a Correspondent for Agbonmagbe Bank Limited

One of the portfolios of Agbonmagbe Bank Limited was lending monies to its diverse customers based on collateral securities. Of course, if any customer defaulted, the property pledged as ‘Security’ was lawfully sold by “Public Auction” or “Private Treaty”. This is Banking practice up till today. Loans/Overdrafts (secured) still constitute a major part of present-day Banks’ sectorial portfolios up till today. Does that make present-day Licensed Bankers money lenders? Of course Not. A money Lender’s  Licence is governed by the Money Lenders Law at various times in the history of Financial Institutions in Nigeria.

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