Anti-corrruption group petitions EFCC against Fedelity Bank boss demands arrests

An anti-corruption advocacy group, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN) on Monday criticised the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged cover-up of a case involving the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo.

The GICN in a letter dated 14th October, 2019, signed by its Chairman, Board of Trustee/President, Barr. Edward Ejembi Omaga and submitted to office of the Executive Chairman of the commission, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday expressed disappointment over the delay of the case.

Omaga in the letter, alleged that the case which was instituted against Okonkwo after 2015 general elections by the EFCC at Federal High Court sitting in Lagos with Charge Number: FHC/4419c/18, might have been swept under the carpet like other high profile cases which reverberated throughout the pages at newspapers but in the end nothing came out at them.

The letter partly read, “We are at a loss as to the sudden quietness, lethargy and cold feet developed by the Commission regarding the case. That Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo is still walking the streets freely despite the myriad of allegations leveled against him which should have since landed him in jail is rather worrisome.

“It gives the impression to the prying public and those of us in the Civil Society family that the case may have been swept under the carpet like other high profile cases which reverberated throughout the pages at newspapers but in the end nothing came out at them.

“No doubt, the continuous occupation of the position of Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank Plc by Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo brought more harm than good to investors and customers of the Bank. The unintended effect of this development is that the entire economy of Nigeria is sabotaged with distrust and unending anarchy reigning supreme in the all important banking sector.”

The anti- corruption organization being Non-profit and Non-Governmental in nature is registered at the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML), an arm of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with number RN: SC 151407936.

It had earlier been reported that Mr Okonkwo, who is still facing prosecution in the Federal High Court in Lagos was arrested alongside other members of staff of the bank by the Commission for allegedly receiving $115 million in cash from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

According to reports, others arrested included the Head of Operations of the Bank, Martins Izuogbe. Alison-Madueke was said to have deposited the $115 million in the Bank as preparations commenced for the 2015 presidential election.

She was said to have invited Okonkwo to Abuja, where she briefed him on the deal.
Okonkwo allegedly accepted to receive the money into the Bank’s coffers despite the fact that Alison-Madueke did not have an account with Fidelity Bank Plc.

However, the anti-graft advocacy group, has given the EFCC 14 days ultimatum to make public, status of the report of criminal prosecution of Mr. Okonkwo at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

The group, which premised his demand upon Freedom of Information Act of 2011, also threatened to shut down the headquarters of EFCC in Abuja, CBN and Fidelity Bank branches in both Lagos Abuja with massive protest if the commission failed to avail it the report.

Omaga said, “As an organization which has integrity as its watchword and abhors all forms of corruption, we have considered it imperative to demand and we hereby DEMAND based on the Freedom of Information Act. 2011 that you avail us the status report of the criminal prosecution of Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo at the Federal High Court silting in Lagos.

“This will enable us carry out independent assessment of all the cases pending against him with a view to ascertaining whether or not we would advise our private investigators to dig deep and supply more facts and documents capable of aiding the Commission in the performance of its duties.

“Consequent upon the foregoing, we expect that you will hearken to our demand as contained herein within (14) Fourteen working days from the date hereof. In the unlikely event that we do not hear from you, we will not hesitate to lead thousands of our members to massively occupy the EFCC Headquarters, Central Bank of Nigeria as well as Fidelity Bank Plc offices both in Abuia and Lagos.

“The aim of our massive occupation of the aforesaid offices will be to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari, the International Community, media and other critical stakeholders in the banking sector to the corruption going on in Fidelity Bank Plc and how our efforts at reversing some have been thwarted and undermined by the unsupporlive posture of the EFCC.

“This will be without prejudice to the exercise of our right to institute civil proceedings under Section 1 (3) of the Freedom of lnformation Act. 2011 for purposes of seeking, amongst other reliefs, an order of mandamus compelling the EFCC to carry out its duties under the law.”

End…

DEMAND FOR STATUS REPORT OF CRIMINAL PROSECUTION OF MR. NNAMDI OKONKWO MANAGING DIRECTOR/CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF FIDELITY BANK PLC FOR CONSPIRACY AND MONEY LAUNDERING MADE PURSUANT TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, 2011.

Our Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN) is on indigenous pro democracy. human empowerment and onti-corruption Civil Society Organization duly registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Abuja with number CAC/IT/No. 104969. The organization being non-profit, non governmental and non partisan in nature is also registered at the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML), an arm of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with number RN: SC 151407936. We are a group of lawyers, paralegals, background check consultants, private investigators, human rights activists, media practitioners and policy analysts dedicated to advocating for integrity, justice, probity and transparency in public offices. Over the years, our members have worked tirelessly with relevant agencies to fight injustice, impunity, corruption, terrorism and economic sabotage with a view to nudging Nigeria on the path of transformation.

As President Muhammadu Buhari strives continuously to stamp out corruption from Nigeria and recover the huge funds looted by public office holders during the 2015 General Elections, GICN is delighted to note with great enchantment the laudable achievements of the EFCC under your visionary leadership. Needless to state that the number of convictions recorded so far instilled fears in the hearts of public officers and private actors alike, to engage in fraudulent and corrupt practices, as they are wary of the attendant consequences that would befall them if found culpable. This has even led to the coinage of the popular horism that “the fear of EFCC is the beginning of wisdom”.

It is in public domain that Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo who now holds sway as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank Plc some time in 2015 conspired with Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum Resources to conceal in Fidelity Bank Plc, the Sum total of $153,310,000 being part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: corruption contrary to Sections 18 (a) and 15 (2) (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act. 2011. The sum was said to have been deployed to bribe INEC Officials in different States of the Federation for purposes of compromising the electoral process in favour of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who was then contesting for a second term in office. Indeed, patriotic Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief upon hearing that criminal charges were instituted against Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo and other suspects at large before the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos vide Charge No: FHC/4419c/18. The expectation was that by now the outcome of prosecution would have been made known to the public with a view to reinforcing the confidence reposed on the EFCC. Unfortunately, this expectation was dashed as it does appear that the much gusto and determination with which the Commission started the case have fizzled out.

We are at a loss as to the sudden quietness, lethargy and cold feet developed by the Commission regarding the case. That Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo is still walking the streets freely despite the myriad of allegations leveled against him which should have since landed him in jail is rather worrisome. It gives the impression to the prying public and those of us in the Civil Society family that the case may have been swept under the carpet like other high profile cases which reverberated throughout the pages at newspapers but in the end nothing came out at them. No doubt, the continuous occupation of the position of Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank Plc by Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo brought more harm than good to investors and customers of the Bank. The unintended effect of this development is that the entire economy of Nigeria is sabotaged with distrust and unending anarchy reigning supreme in the all important banking sector.

We submit that the recent crisis that engulfed the Bank under the leadership of Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo as it has to do with non payment of accrued entitlements of staffers under the umbrella of Concerned Note Counters Association of Fidelity Bank (CNCAFB) which has now metamorphosed into Association of Aggrieved Fidelity Bank Statts (AAFBS), if not resolved as a matter of urgency, has the propensity to pull the Bank down just like what happened to other commercial banks in the past. The agitations by these interest groups which are still ongoing have been attributed to the massive fraud, injustice, maladministration going on in Fidelity Bank. There are facts pointing to the direction that the managerial credentials of Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo are questionable. Mr. Okonkwo has been accused severally of running the affairs of the Bank like his personal enterprise and engaging in all sorts of corrupt and arbitrary practices. He has caused unnecessary tension, disaffection and unrest in the Bank to the extent that the hitherto harmonious industrial relations that had existed between management and staffers have been terribly strained.

Sir, you will agree with us that the benefits of a corruption-free society cannot be over-emphasized. Therefore, we owe it as a public duty to ensure that the battered image of the country in the eyes of international community is redeemed at all cost. As an organization which has integrity as its watchword and abhors all forms of corruption, we have considered it imperative to demand and we hereby DEMAND based on the Freedom of Information Act. 2011 that you avail us the status report of the criminal prosecution of Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo at the Federal High Court silting in Lagos. This will enable us carry out independent assessment of all the cases pending against him with a view to ascertaining whether or not we would advise our private investigators to dig deep and supply more facts and documents capable of aiding the Commission in the performance of its duties.

Consequent upon the foregoing, we expect that you will hearken to our demand as contained herein within (14) Fourteen working days from the date hereof. In the unlikely event that we do not hear from you, we will not hesitate to lead thousands of our members to massively occupy the EFCC Headquarters, Central Bank of Nigeria as well as Fidelity Bank Plc offices both in Abuia and Lagos. The aim of our massive occupation of the aforesaid offices will be to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari, the International Community, media and other critical stakeholders in the banking sector to the corruption going on in Fidelity Bank Plc and how our efforts at reversing some have been thwarted and undermined by the unsupporlive posture of the EFCC. This will be without prejudice to the exercise of our right to institute civil proceedings under Section 1 (3) of the Freedom of lnformation Act. 2011 for purposes of seeking, amongst other reliefs, an order of mandamus compelling the EFCC to carry out its duties under the law.

As we look forward to hearing from you soonest, kindly accept the assurances of our highest regards.

Yours faithfully.

For: GLOBAL INTEGRITY CRUSADE NETWQRK (GICN)

Fidelity Bank workers demand Okonkwo sack, threaten to paralyse company’s activities over entitlements

Workers with Fidelity Bank Plc across Nigeria have vowed to disrupt business activities of the bank if demand on payment of their entitlements by the management is not met within five working days.

The workers, under the aegis of Concerned Note Counters Association of Fidelity Bank (CNCAFB) and Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN) are reacting to a statement credited to Bank’s Divisional Head, Brand and Communications, Charles Aigbe on September 26, that the employees are deliberately casting aspersions on the bank in order to give it a bad name.

It had earlier been reported that Fidelity Bank said the planned disruption of service and social media attacks on the bank by some outsourced workers was unwarranted and misdirected.

A statement from the bank had read, “Our attention has been drawn to the planned disruption of service and social media attacks on the bank by a few outsourced staff who were recently recalled by their employers.

“The move, which is the handiwork of the outsourced staff who were on secondment to the bank as note counters, is aimed at casting the bank in a bad light. Their employers have confirmed to the bank that their recall was conducted in line with their existing contracts and according to extant labour laws.

“As a responsible financial institution, operating in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank is guided by the laws of the land. While we are not against the right to lawful assembly, the planned actions directed at Fidelity Bank, by these misguided individuals, are clearly unwarranted and misdirected.”

But reacting through a statement jointly signed by Abdulrahman Abdulraheem, Director of Media of GICN and Josiah Olusanya, Welfare Officer of CNCAFB; which was made available to journalists in Abuja on Monday, the employees faulted the Bank’s claims, arguing that they are not “contract staff” and as such, they should not be ill-treated.

The employees said, “Let it be put on record that Note Counters are not “contract staff”. They cannot be used, ill-treated and dumped at will by Fidelity Bank without being paid terminal benefits.”

They explained further that Note Counters were employed by Fidelity Union Securities Ltd (FUSL), they were all seconded to Fidelity Bank Plc and carried Identity Card of the bank as well as received salaries from the said Bank.

The workers expressed shock over the emergence of new company in the bank, describing as ‘kangaroo’, the new company’s name – FSL Management Services Limited which carried out the “unwarranted” sack order.

They insisted that whether sacked or willingly resigned, the workers are entitled to their benefits.

“Incidentally, the new kangaroo company named FSL Management Services Limited to sack the Note Counters for daring to speak out is also a subsidiary of Fidelity Bank Plc. This means that the terminal benefits due to core staff of the Bank should also be paid to Note Counters whether they resigned willingly or are disengaged by the Bank.

“We concede based on the provisions of the old Staff Handbook that applicable rates and terms of the Bank’s gratuity scheme may change from time to time depending on management’s consideration.

“However, our argument is that such change must be introduced with the consent of all employees of the Bank, including the Note Counters. Every bit of policy change so introduced into the Staff Handbook must conform to the employment laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Be that as it may, application of the terms of the April 2015 Reviewed Staff Handbook of the Bank wherein it was stated on page 15 thereof that the gratuity scheme terminates effective December 31, 2015 should be without discrimination against any category of staffs.

“The Note Counters who are either still serving or left employment of the Bank through sack or voluntary resignation should be paid their due entitlements for the sake of justice, fairness and equity,” the statement explained.

They, however, called on the shareholders and customers of the bank to hurriedly stop transacting with the bank, saying actions taken against the employees by the Managing Director/CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo can jeopardize their fortunes.

“We wish to make it clear that the wicked acts being perpetrated against Note Counters by Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo in his position as Managing Director/CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc are capable of jeopardizing the interest of shareholders and customers.

“We use this medium to warm that the fortunes of shareholders and customers may no longer be safe with Fidelity Bank Plc”, they said.

Unemployed allegedly steals N68,700 to play BetNaija

 24-year-old applicant, Samson Ojowuro, on Monday appeared before an Ikeja Chief Magistrates’ Court, for allegedly stealing N68,700 to play Bet Naija game.

The defendant, who resides at No. 125, Ayobo Road, by Oja Bus Stop in Ipaja Lagos, was arraigned on a count charge of stealing, but he pleaded not guilty to the charge.

According to the police prosecutor, Sgt. Kenrich Nomayo, the defendant stole the sum given to him by one Mr Adebola Farimu to save in his account on May 20 at 9.00a.m. at Ipaja Market, Ipaja.

He submitted that the defendant diverted the money into his personal use.

The Chief Magistrate, Mrs Israel Adelakun, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N50, 000 with one surety in like sum.

Adelakun ruled that the surety must be gainful employed and have evidence of two years’ tax payment to the Lagos State Government.

She adjourned the case until June 24 for mention.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that stealing contravenes Section 287 of the Criminal Law of the Lagos State, 2015, and punishable with three years imprisonment.

Huawei’s $105 billion business at stake after U.S. exports blacklist

The latest U.S. broadside against Huawei that puts the Chinese firm on an exports blacklist threatens to rattle the global tech supply chain, linked closely to the $105 billion business of the world’s top supplier of telecoms network equipment.

The Trump administration has said it would add Huawei Technologies and 70 affiliates to its “Entity List” – a move that will likely ban the firm from acquiring U.S. components and technology without government approval, adding another incendiary element to the U.S.-China trade war.

The ban is not yet effective.

A similar U.S. ban on China’s ZTE Corp had almost crippled business for the smaller Huawei rival early last year before the curb was lifted.

Such sanctions on Huawei are, however, likely to have ramifications beyond the company itself, analysts said.

It would disrupt Huawei’s business at a minimum and all but put it out of business in an extreme, while its U.S. suppliers would also be hit, they said.

Out of $70 billion Huawei spent for component procurement in 2018, some $11 billion went to U.S. firms including Qualcomm, Intel Corp and Micron Technology Inc, and they could see that revenue disappear.

On the other hand, U.S. companies like Apple face the risk of severe retaliation from China, a key market.

“This is going to be very messy,” a China-based source at a U.S. tech company said.

It will be tough for Huawei too, the person said, noting none of its U.S. suppliers “can be replaced by Chinese ones, not within a few years, at least. By then, they are already dead”.

Revenue for the company, also the world’s second-biggest maker of smartphones, touched 721 billion yuan ($105 billion) last year, eight times ZTE’s and half the annual sales of South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.

But its business has come under pressure over the past year given mounting international scrutiny, led by U.S. allegations that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying, a concern the company has said is unfounded.

STOCKPILING

A range of Asian and European suppliers would also be hurt if Huawei was forced to curb production, while telecom carriers that rely on Huawei, and have largely resisted U.S. calls to bar the company, would be left scrambling just as countries race to roll out next-generation 5G mobile networks.

“Huawei being unable to manufacture network servers, for example, because they can’t get key U.S. components would mean they also stop buying parts from other countries altogether,” said an executive at a Huawei chip supplier.

“They can relatively better manage component sourcing for mobile phones because they have their own component businesses for smartphones. But server and network, it’s a different story,” the executive said.

According to brokerage Jefferies, the sanctions would mean a “nightmare for China’s 5G” too. The country, which is targeting a nationwide rollout next year, will very likely slow down its 5G push as a result, it added.

However, industry participants pointed out that Huawei had been stockpiling components such as chips to ease disruptions.

Its initial target was to build inventories of six to nine months, and it has recently been raised to 12 and, in some cases, 24 months, Jefferies said.

Shares in Huawei suppliers fell across in Asia on the news of the U.S. blacklist.

South Korea’s Samsung dropped 2.4%, SK Hynix fell 3.5%, while China’s Luxshare Precision Industry fell as much as 6.1%. Shares in ZTE also tumbled.

Huawei has said it is “ready and willing to engage with the U.S. government and come up with effective measures to ensure product security”.

Its rotating Chairman Eric Xu also told Reuters in a recent interview that “in case of unforeseen events … we definitely have our contingency plan. What we have prepared has already been used in some of our products in the Chinese market”.

Huawei has spearheaded China’s campaign to develop its own high-end technologies to reduce reliance on imports and such efforts have taken on urgency after U.S. sanctions on ZTE.

The ZTE case led to some “benefits” and “external pressures have developed into internal drivers” in China, said Wan Gang, vice chairman of China’s parliamentary advisory body.

TRADE TALKS

The pain for Huawei’s supply chain would be redoubled if the trade war put a damper on the Chinese technology industry.

“The bigger concern would be U.S. allies that used to buy Huawei’s components may not continue businesses with Huawei, because of fear of possibly upsetting the United States,” said Doh Hyun-woo, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities in Seoul.

The Trump administration’s rhetoric toward China had cooled in recent days after another round of tariffs between the world’s top two economies and a selloff on global stock markets.

Tensions escalated on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring American companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms deemed to pose a national security risk.

While the president’s order did not specifically name any country or company, U.S. officials have previously labeled Huawei a “threat”.

“The U.S. seems to have already decided to nail Huawei down,” said the China-based U.S. tech company source.

“The problem is that because there doesn’t seem to be a prospect for a trade deal in the near future, the U.S. has expedited the process of killing Huawei.” (REUTERS)

Barca vs Liverpool: See how much Nigerian singer Kcee lose in bet

 Nigerian singer Kingsley Chinweike, popularly known as Kcee, has lot a whooping amount of N1 million after betting over who will win the Barcelona versus Liverpool match.

The singer, had taken to his twitter page before the ‘big game’ to give  the money to one @mrchidozie, a die-hard Liverpool fan on Twitter, if his team had won.

The young man became N1m richer as Liverpool incredibly trashed Barcelona 4 – 0 at Anfield.

Barcelona was not the only one that suffered a loss. Singer Kcee who placed a bet in support of the Spanish team also lost out to @mrchidozie.

Shortly after the game, @mrchidozie confirmed receipt of the sum of N1 million which he won as a result of the bet.

The game which was the second leg tie of the UEFA Champions League semi-final saw Liverpool needing to turn a 3-0 deficit which they suffered at home.

With a 3-goal advantage, Barcelona went into the semi-final game as the obvious favorites to qualify for the 2019 Champions League final, sadly they were stunned by Liverpool’s 4 unreplied goals.

The brilliance of the English Premier League side ensured Messi got denied the chance to play in a fourth UEFA Champions League final.

Liverpool will now face either of Ajax or Tottenham in the final, as the UEFA Champions League semi-final gets decided today. (NAN)

See why Nigeria air passenger traffic increased by 3.9 per cent in Q1 2019 – NCAA

No fewer than 3,319,720 air travellers passed through Nigeria airports between January and March 2019.

The Consumer Protection Department of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) made this known in a document obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Wednesday.

NAN reports that the figure represents a 3.96 per cent increase compared to the 3,188,138 passengers recorded between January and March 2018.
According to the document, the 30 airlines on the international routes operated a total of 3,872 flights and flew 946,639 passengers during the period under review.

It said that eight domestic airlines operated a total of 14,735 flights and air lifted 2,373,181 passengers across the country.
Thus, airlines on the domestic routes accounted for 71 per cent of the passenger traffic while the international routes 29 per cent.

Commenting on the development, Mr Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, said there was need to sustain and consolidate on the growth being recorded in the aviation sector.

Adurogboye said : “The most important thing is compliance with safety. Once there is safety, the confidence of the flying public will continue to increase and that will encourage more people to travel by air.
“Safety is the key thing because accidents scare people and make them run away. Safety is our core area in NCAA and we have continued to strengthen our safety regulations.

“The airlines on their part, apart from adhering to safety regulations should also improve on their customer care.
“The moment they continue to do that and have schedule integrity and on-time service, more people will continue to travel by air. ”

He also assured the flying public that the Nigerian airspace was safe for operations but not immune to air incidents and accidents as was recently witnessed in some other parts of the world
Adurogboye said: “What this has shown is that nobody is immune from accidents but that we must continue to take the issue of safety very seriously.
“So far so good, Nigeria has been having a safe operation and we won’t relent on our oars. We must continue to work harder on our safety roadmap.
“We have been issuing weather advisory for the airline operators and the NCAA is ready to stand by them when they delay or cancel flights due to these weather issues because safety remains paramount,” he said. (NAN)

‘I’m Tired Of This Country’, Says Motorist In Akure As Petrol Scarcity Bites, Price Reaches N180/Litre

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Consumers of the Premium Motors Spirit (PMS), best known as petrol, in Ondo State are groaning following a scarcity of the product, with one of them telling Saharareporters: “Honestly, I am tired of this country.”

Findings by SaharaReporters on Saturday showed that the scarcity has made many of the consumer to engage in panic buying of petrol in the few gas stations in the state capital, Akure, where the product is available. 

A SaharaReporters correspondent who moved round the state capital reported that the scarcity became noticeable late on Friday.

The scarcity was visible in some of the gas stations visited, as their gates were shut while consumers of the product, mostly motorists, were stranded.

However, the few gas stations that sold — at Alagbaka, Oyemekun, Oke Ijebu, Ijapo, Ondo Road and Oda Road — experienced long queues in a stretch of about 200 to 300 metres, thereby causing traffic on the roads.

Long queues were seen at NNPC Mega stations on the highway in Akure, as other gas stations on same route up to Shasha market were closes, aside the popular Showboy Petrol Station.

The Bovas gas station, which is the most preferred choice of motorists on the Oke Ijebi route, shut its gate as workers said there was no fuel to dispense to consumers. 

Our reporter observed that these gas stations, which are mostly retailers, have started selling the product at N150 and N180 per litre, which is against Federal Government-approved pump price of N145. 

Investigations showed that the major marketers in the state that have the product are now rationing it on high price among Independent marketers willing to cooperate.

It was also noticed that many of the motorists rushing to queue up for the product had no idea of the cause of the sudden scarcity, and  the station’s owners were unwilling to talk.

A motorist, Tijani Olakunle, said the situation might worsen from Monday if the government refuses to intervane. He also accused the government of insincerity on the scarcity of the product.  

“They are telling us that there is fuel everywhere, thank God you said you are a journalist; can you see the product here now? At least you saw us in the queue sweating inside our vehicle to get the product.

“I don’t think the Federal Government is being sincere with this scarcity of fuel. How can they say there is fuel everywhere while we are suffering to get it here? So, I am calling on them to better act immediately before this scarcity will get worse by Monday becuase people will want to travel back and go to their places of work.”

Another petrol consumer, Babalola Orimolade, whose wife sells cold food inside the Oja Oba Market, said the scarcity is now bitting hard and will have a knock-on effect on their business. 

“We need petrol to power the generator to freeze the food inside our refrigerators, and I cannot even stand the queue at the gas station. You can see everyone sweating here to get the product.

“Honestly, I am tired of this country — because it seems it is only we the common man that bears this brunt and those at the top don’t feel what we are feeling. And is this the next level that they came to promise us.

“Here, there is queue and they are selling for us at N150 per litre. If you cannot stand the queue, then you will get black market for N200 per litre. Is this not a big shame on us as country that has oil and still we refine outside the country?”

Niyi Adesida, a commercial driver popularly known as ‘taxi diver’, said the long queues at the gas stations forced him to resort to getting the product from the black market.

“The scarcity is already bitting hard on us as taxi drivers, and the N50 per drop is no longer comfortable for us becuase we now get the fuel at the rate of N180 and N200 per litre from the black market. 

“The filling stations are not openining for sale and I learnt they don’t have the product, but where are the black market guys getting it from?”

Shina Amoo, Chairman of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) in Ore depot, told SaharaReporters on the phone that the “slight” petrol scarcity was that the product was not readily available in the depots. 

Amoo explained that many of the independent marketers were now buying from private depots at an expensive rate to serve the state.

He added that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was aware of the situation and had been working to proffer solutions.

“My brother, the truth of the matter is that the product is not available for consumption and we are getting the ones we have from the private depot,” he said. 

“Just imagine, when we are buying the product to serve the people at the rate of N139 per litre, excluding other expenses of landing cost at the petrol station. But, like i told some persons not too long ago, everything boils down to the Federal Government to make petrol available. I hope this will be resolve before the end of next week.”

Speaking, the Operations Controller of the Department of Petroleum Resource (DPR) in Ondo state, Oseni Adewale, accused the marketers of hoarding the product against the consumers in the state.

Adewale said there was enough petrol to last the state beyond the Easter season, noting that any of the markters caught hoarding the product will be dealt with it. 

Similarly, the Ondo State government has promised to arrest the owners of any gas station caught hoarding the product from consumers. 

A statement signed and issued by Doyin Odebowale read: “The Ondo State Government views, with grave concern, the latest attempt by some unscrupulous persons to create panic through the hoarding of PMS, fuel. 

“This assault on decency is coming at a time when the NNPC continues to reiterate facts on the availability of the product. Nigerians have been assured of regular supply of the product and this Government has no reason to disbelieve the organisation.

“It is against this backdrop that the Government warns, sternly, all petrol dealers in the State, to desist from any unpatriotic acts which may inflict pains on the people.  We, on our part, will resist and sanction any untoward practice, conceived and/or executed, to engender hardship in the Ondo State. Any dealer caught hoarding fuel will be arrested and prosecuted.”

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UBA Asks Court To Close Down Sahara Energy Over KEPCO’s N15bn Loan

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United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has filed a winding up petition against Sahara Energy Resource Limited (Sahara Energy) at a Federal High Court in Lagos.

The petition was based on a N15 billion indebtedness of KEPCO Energy Resources Limited (KEPCO), which Sahara Energy had stood for as guarantor.

A winding up petition is a legal action taken by a creditor or against an insolvent company that owes them money. It can also be filed against a company that served as guarantors of the defaulter. If approved by the court, it will lead to a closure of or compulsory liquidation of all the debtor’s assets to repay the loan.

The petition was filed before Mohammed Liman, a judge of the high court, by Temilolu Adamolekun, UBA’s legal counsel.

UBA said that KEPCO obtained a loan with which it raised capital to fund the acquisition of Egbin Power Plant, operated by Sahara Power Group, a privately-owned power company under the Sahara conglomerate.

In 2013, the Nigerian government granted KEPCO, a Korean company, 70% stake of Egbin power plant at a sale value of $407.3 million, equivalent to N64.35 billion at the existing exchange rate.

In order to fund that acquisition, UBA said KEPCO had applied for a credit facility from several banks, including itself, with Sahara Energy standing in as a “corporate guarantor” to secure the loan.

FBN Capital Limited and First Nigeria Limited were appointed as the facility agent and security trustee respectively.

UBA had therefore granted KEPCO a loan to the tune of $35 million in August 2013.

The petitioner said KEPCO failed to meet its obligations even after it restructured the loan on two different occasions.

The interest on the rescheduled debt is said to have increased the facility to $42,282,430.49 or NN15,221,674,976.40 as of December 31, 2018.

The petitioner said Sahara Energy had been notified several times to fulfill its obligation as a guarantor but had not done so, hence the need to file a winding up order.

“The company herein is insolvent and unable to pay its debt. In the circumstances, it is just and equitable that the company should be wound up,” read a part of the petition.

The petitioner also sought “an order that the company, Sahara Energy Resources Ltd, be wound up by the court under the provisions of Companies and Allied Matters Act”.

Following an ex-parte motion filed by Adamolekun, the bank’s lawyer, Liman, ordered that the winding up petition be advertised in the Nigerian government’s official gazette and a national daily newspaper.

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‘We’re Not Indebted To UBA’ — Sahara Energy Responds To UBA’s Winding-Up Petition

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Sahara Energy Resource Limited (SERL) says it is not indebted to the United Bank for Africa (UBA) neither did it grant a direct guarantee to UBA on any loan transaction that the bank could unilaterally enforce or sue on.

Sahara Energy stated this on Saturday in its response to UBA’s filing of a winding up petition against it at a Federal High Court in Lagos.

UBA had said the petition was based on a N15 billion indebtedness of KEPCO Energy Resources Limited (KEPCO), which Sahara Energy had stood for as guarantor.

But, in its response, SERL denied the accusations and promised to legally pursue the matter to its very end.

“The attention of Sahara Energy Resource Limited (Nigeria) (‘SERL’) and the entire Sahara Group has been drawn to a publication in the Guardian Newspaper of 11th April 2019 made by United Bank for Africa Plc (‘UBA’) and their counsel pursuant to the ex parte order made by the Honorable Mr. Justice Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, in Suit No. FHC/L/CP/387/19 pursuant to a winding up petition in Suit No. FHC/L/CP/387/19,” read an official stated on its website.

“Sahara has reviewed the publication and wish to comment as follows:

“SERL is not indebted to UBA, has no outstanding facilities with UBA nor did it borrow any money from UBA in any loan transaction that is the subject matter of either the civil petition (FHC/L/CP/387/19) or the civil summons (FHC/L/CS/387/19 as advertised) that formed the subject of the ex parte order;

“SERL did not grant a direct guarantee to UBA on any loan transaction that UBA could unilaterally enforce or sue on;
 
“SERL and one of its affiliate companies, NG Power-HPS Limited sued UBA in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/236/19 at the Federal High Court, Lagos, on 13th February 2019, claiming a number of declarative and injunctive remedies relating to unorthodox methods employed by UBA in relation to its dealings with the Plaintiffs.

“UBA, on 12th March 2019 sued New Electricity Distribution Company Limited and SERL along with two other institutions, First Trustees Limited and Ecobank Capital Limited in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/382/2019, by way of Originating Summons, claiming certain declarations and injunctions to which SERL has filed full and comprehensive response.

“The two suits in paragraphs 3 and 4 have been set down for hearing before the Federal High Court in Lagos on 30th May 2019.

“While the above two suits are pending and have been set down for hearing, UBA commenced a third suit on the 13th of March, and applied ex parte, (and without putting SERL on notice before serving the petition) obtained an order ex parte to advertise the petition.

“The petition was only served on SERL at about 12.25 p.m. on 11th April 2019 after it has been advertised as aforesaid.”

Sahara Energy added that its lawyers had been duly instructed and had taken all necessary steps to ensure that the order is discharged or set aside as soon as practicable.

“SERL and the entire Sahara Group will vigorously pursue and defend UBA’s petition to its logical conclusion with a view to dismissing the petition,” it said.

“We assure our esteemed clients, bankers, suppliers, stakeholders and the general public that SERL and its legal team are taking all lawful steps to ensure that SERL interest is vigorously defended and SERL has implicit confidence in the Nigerian judiciary to resolve the matter and dispense justice between the parties.

“SERL will provide periodic updates to its esteemed clients, suppliers and bankers as may be necessary, of steps being taken in connection with the suits and the results of effort to set aside the order and strike out the suit.”

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Court Remands Company MD In Prison For ‘Trading In’ Adulterated And Substandard Engine Oil

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Cajetan Chike Muonagolu, a businessman, has been remanded in prison custody by Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos. 

He pleaded not guilty to a four-count charge bordering on dealing in adulterated and substandard engine oil.

The court admitted Muonagolu to bail in the sum of N50million with two sureties in the like sum.

While ruling on his bail application, the judge ordered his remandment pending the perfection of his bail conditions.

One of the sureties must be a civil/public servant not less than Grade Level 15 in the employment of the Federal or Lagos State Government while the other must be the defendant’s relation with landed property within the jurisdiction of the court.

The court ordered that both sureties must deposit their passport photographs with the court while Muonagolu must deposit his international passport with the court Registrar.

The prosecution and the Court Registrar are to verify the sureties’ address.

Arguing the bail application on Thursday, defence counsel Goke Olagunlehin, holding the brief of Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), urged the Court to grant his client bail.

The SON prosecution team of Babatunde Alajogun and Adeleke Olofindare opposed the bail application on the ground that Muonagolu committed another offence during the pendency of the case. 

Alajogun said Muonagolu broke and removed the official seal of SON and evacuated 15, 000 cartons of suspected adulterated/substandard engine oil which SON put on hold.

He also allegedly assaulted and beat up SON officials in the course of their lawful duties.

The court ordered the counsel for the prosecution and defence to visit the warehouse to ascertain the breaking of the seal or otherwise.

The matter was adjourned to May 20, 2019 for commencement of trial.

The Federal Government charged the defendants with four counts of production, possession, dealing in and distribution of substandard engine oil.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In the charge, the defendants are accused of committing the offences at ASPAMDA Trade Fair Complex, Lagos Badagry Expressway Lagos State between December 12 and 13 2018.

They were accused of being in possession of 15,000 Cartons of adulterated Prime Plasma, Prime ATF and Stanley brand of engine oil which they present as being of quality.

The offences contravene Section 3 (6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and Section 26 of Standards Organisation of Nigeria Act, 2015.

Part of the charge reads: “That you Cajetan Chike Muonagolu and Richbon Nigeria Limited of Plot 242, Oshodi Apapa Express Way , Odolowu Bus Stop, Lagos on or about 12/13 December 2019, while at ASPAMDA Trade Fair Complex, Lagos Badagry Expressway Lagos State Lagos State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did indulge in dealing in adulterated/substandard engine oil to wit: 15,000 Cartons and 60,00 pieces of Prime Plasma, Prime ATF and Stanley brand of Engine oil which is not of quality, substance nature or efficacy which the seller represented it to be and thereby commit an offence punishable under Section 1 (18)(ii) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”

“That you Cajetan Chike Muonagolu and Richbon Nigeria Limited of Plot 242, Oshodi Apapa Express Way , Odolowu Bus Stop, Lagos on or about 12/13 December 2019, while at ASPAMDA Trade Fair Complex, Lagos Badagry Expressway Lagos State Lagos State Lagos State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did fail to comply with the Standards Organisation of Nigheria’s Conformity Assessment Programe (MANCAP) to wit; dealing in and having in possession of: 15,000 Cartons of Prime Plasma, Prime ATF and Stanley brand of adulterated/substandard engine oil”.

SON recently undertook a nationwide raid on suspected adulterated and substandard lubricants in response to a myriad of Consumer complaints and failure of engines occasioned by suspected substandard engine oils.

The arraignment of Muonagolu and his company, Richbond Nigeria Limited, follows other ongoing prosecution of standards infractions in relation to adulterated and substandard engine oils in Lagos and other parts of the country.

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