…As Hon.Ned Nwoko Rubbishes Ayeni’s Allegations
Efforts by the former managing director of the defunct Skye Bank PLC, Olatunde Ayeni to implicate and smear the reputation of the Chairman of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL), Capt. ldahosa Wells Okunbo, and the company in an allegation of illegal diversion of N29.5 billion cash from the bank, have been dismissed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after a thorough investigation.
Similarly, Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko, a lawyer and former Member of the House of Representatives, has dismissed a petition to the Inspector General of Police written by Ayeni’s lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, alleging that OMSL had some illegal transactions with him concerning the refund of Paris Club loans to Local Governments in the country.
Findings from an independent investigation carried out on the issue show that up until August 2018, Ayeni and his wife, Abiola, held 30,000,000 ordinary shares of OMSL and both were sitting on the board of the company. But, in August 2018, the Ayenis, using an investment management firm, Prime Union Investment Limited, divested their holdings from OMSL through a board resolution.
The board of Prime Union Investment Limited, solely owned by Ayeni and his wife, also resolved at an extraordinary meeting held on August 15th, 2018, to sell the 30,000,000 ordinary shares of OMSL to Wells Property Development Company Limited for N2,000,000,000.00 (Two Billion Naira) only.
Consequently, the board of OMSL at an extra-ordinary meeting held in Port Harcourt resolved among others that; ” Dr, Olatunde John Ayeni has agreed to sell his 5,000,000 Ordinary shares each in Ocean Marine Solutions Limited to Wells Property Development Company Limited.
“Prime Union Investment Limited has agreed to sell its 30,000,000 Ordinary shares of N1 each in Ocean Marine Solutions Limited to Wells Property Development Company Limited.
“Wells Property Development Company Limited has agreed to purchase the 35,000,000 Ordinary shares from both Dr, Olatunde John Ayeni and Prime Union Investment Limited including the shares held by Dr, Olatunde John Ayeni in other associated companies which consists of 37,200,000 Ordinary Shares held in PPPFM, 175,000,000 0rdmary Shares in GYRO [including the 50,000,000 Ordinary shares held by Mrs. Ayeni) for the total sum ofN2,000,000,000 (Two Billion Naira) only.
“Following the full and final payment by Wells Property Development Company Limited for the shares, both Dr. Olatunde John Ayeni and Prime Union Investment Limited hereby transfer the total 35,000,000 Ordinary shares to Wells Property Development Company Limited devoid of any encumbrance.
“The company hereby approves the transfer of 5,000,000 Ordinary Shares held by Dr. Olatunde John Ayeni to Wells Property Development Company Limited.
“The Company hereby approves the transfer of 30,000,000 Ordinary Shares held by Prime Union Investment Limited to Wells Property Development Company Limited.”
In accordance with the resolutions made by both boards, Capt. Okunbo, on 26th November 2018, transferred the sum of N1,000,000,000 (One Billion Naira) through his Bank account in Central Area branch in Abuja to Olutoyl Estate Development and Services Limited, an account own by Ayeni.
The balance, it was reliably gathered, was fully paid and in March 2019, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in its FORM CAC 2A approved the transfer of 73,150,000 ordinary shares of OMSL to Wells Property Development Company Limited.
Twist of Fate
However, a new drama was introduced to the relationship when the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) which was investigating the activities of Ayeni’s stewardship as the managing director of the defunct Skye Bank Plc discovered that he withdrew the sum of N29.5 Billion (Twenty-Nine Billion, Five Hundred Million) cash from the bank.
Ayeni, who according to the EFCC report, confirmed the act and went ahead to promise to return the money, later alleged that he invested the said fund in the shares of OMSL and its subsidiaries.
Upon his claim, followed by a petition from the office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the EFCC then invited Capt. Okunbo and OMSL to clarify the issue.
After a thorough investigation, the EFCC, in a letter signed by the Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar Abba on behalf of the Ag. Chairman of the Commission exonerated Capt. Okunbo and OMSL.
The letter, dated 25th June 2019 and titled Re: Investigations Activities, (EFCC/EC/GC/31/2538) reads:
“We wish to state that in June 2017, a petition regarding infractions by the previous Board and Management of Skye Bank was forwarded from the Office of the Vice-President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“In the course of the investigation, Dr. Tunde Ayeni was invited and he volunteered a statement confirming the withdrawal of 29.5 billion naira cash from the Skye Bank. He, however, promised to refund the said funds to the bank and further claimed to have some interest in Ocean Marine and its subsidiary companies.
“Based on the above, investigation was extended to Corporate Affairs Commission where it was discovered that Dr. Tunde Ayeni had on the 8th August 2018, actually sold his 35 million ordinary shares in Ocean Marine Solutions Limited and 37.2 million ordinary shares in PPP Fluid Mechanics Limited to Wells Property Development Company Limited, a subsidiary of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited.
“Investigation carried out so far revealed that Dr. Tunde Ayeni is no longer a Director and shareholder of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited and PPP Fluid Mechanics Limited as he has since sold his entire shares and resigned his appointment as Director and Shareholder of the companies.
“Consequent upon the foregoing, the Commission’s investigation so far did not indict the Chairman of Ocean Marines Solutions and its subsidiary companies, Capt. Idahosa Wells Okunbo on the alleged diversion of 29.5 billion naira from the defunct Skye Bank Plc, by Dr Tunde Ayeni. However, investigation into the case is still ongoing.”
In Search of Means to Undo Capt. Okunbo
Apparently disappointed by the EFCC’s dismissal of his false allegation against Capt. Okunbo and OMSL, Ayeni invented another campaign of calumny against Okunbo. In late 2020, Ayeni commissioned his lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, to petition the IGP.
Unfortunately, while attempting to smear Capt. Okunbo who has remained unperturbed while keeping his calm, bearing in mind that, ‘clear conscious fears no accusations,’ Ayeni and his lawyer dragged in another person who will not take it easy with such unsubstantiated claims.
In the petition dated December 7, 2020, Ayeni accused Hon. Prince Ned Munir Nwoko, Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, of conniving with Capt. Okunbo and OMSL to unduly benefit from the Paris Club Funds to local governments in the country.
Reacting to the petition in a letter dated January 5, 2021, and titled, RE: Funding for Paris Club Litigations,” Hon. Nwoko charged the IGP to dismiss the petition as the claims are untrue.
Part of his response reads; “My attention had been drawn to a petition written by Dr. Olatunde John Ayeni (Ayeni) through his lawyer Femi Falana SAN, dated December 7th 2020, wherein he alleged at paragraph 12, that I had undertaken some business dealings with Ocean Marine Solutions Limited and I had requested that OMS fund the process for the Paris Club refunds to the Local Governments of Nigeria.
“That I had also charged 20% of the refund as my fee and upon success, I was to pay the company $30,000,000.00(Thirty Million Dollars). Ayeni also stated that he and Capt. (Dr.) ldahosa Wells Okunbo (Capt. Hosa) gave me funds to the tune of $6,000,000.
“Sir, l wish to state that at no point in time have I had any dealings with Ayeni or Ocean Marine Solutions in whatever capacity as it relates to the above transaction. I have never received any sum from Ayeni which he purported in his petition and he has never played any role whatsoever as it relates to this transaction.”
He stated further, “All transactions on the subject matter were done directly with Capt. (Dr.) ldahosa Wells Okunbo in his personal capacity to the exclusion of any other party including Ocean Marine Solutions Limited. To suggest otherwise as contained in the said petition is merely a malicious statement devoid of truth.”
While dismissing Ayeni’s petition, Nwoko wrote, “I honestly believe that Tunde Ayeni is mistaken as to the nature or extent of my involvement with ALGON. I met with Tunde Ayeni in connection with ALGON’s contract for the supply of Ambulances which were to be funded from the Paris Club refunds (5% of the judgement sum) and this project is still pending for all that I know.
“I am not aware of any payments in connection with this project,” he submitted.
He then went ahead to ask the IGP to ignore the claims saying, “Consequently, I urge your good office to yield no credence to the contents of this petition as it relates to the transactions as stated herein.”