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CBN Names Atiku, Others Leading Bank Debtors As New Audit Reveals N348bn Debt

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Rivers State Governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (right) listening to the chairman of TSI Property and Investment Holding Limited, Gen Anthony Ukpo (rtd) while the state Commissioner for Transport, Hon George Tolofari (middle) watches, during the 2nd Rivers State Summit at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, yesterday. Photo: Donatus Ken

Rivers State Governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (right) listening to the chairman of TSI Property and Investment Holding Limited, Gen Anthony Ukpo (rtd) while the state Commissioner for Transport, Hon George Tolofari (middle) watches, during the 2nd Rivers State Summit at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, yesterday. Photo: Donatus Ken

Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is among prominent Nigerians named Wednesday by the Central Bank of Nigeria as leading debtors to the troubled banks being probed by the apex institution. Others are Peter Ololo, Femi Otedola, Aliko Dangote, Jimoh Ibrahim, and Michael Oyewole and their companies are among the prominent names in the new list of bank debtors released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, was  named among the debtors to Spring Bank. He is said to be owing the bank over N101 million.

The total amount owed by the debtors to the four troubled banks identified by the CBN, in the second audit of 14 banks, is in excess of N348billion. The CBN classified the loans as nonperforming. The troubled banks are: BankPHB, Springbank, Equitorial Trust Bank and Unity Bank

However, the N348billion excludes debts owed to Wema Bank Plc. The CBN did not list the total amount of loans owed to the bank on its website. Wema Bank was given until the end of June, next year to recapitalise.

Debts owed to Bank PHB topped the debtors’ chart, with over N170billion as at October 5. Spring Bank followed with the second highest of over N95billion as at September 30. Equitorial Trust Bank was next with N46 billion as at June 30 and Unity Bank trailed the list with over N36billion, as at June 30,

According to the CBN’s classification, the monies were given to the individuals and corporate organizations in the form of loans, overdrafts, term loans, margin loans and through a whole host of other facilities.

The release of the debtors’ list is in conformity with the promise by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the CBN governor at the just concluded World Bank/IMF Meeting in Instanbul, Turkey, that he would release the names of the debtors and that there would be no sacred cows.

The total amount owed also confirms Mr Sanusi’s statement that the first five banks – Intercontinental Bank, Afribank, Union Bank, Oceanic International Bank and Finbank were the most troubled of all the 24 Nigeria Banks, with a total debts exposure in excess of N747billion. Mr. Sanusi fired the chief executives of those banks on August 14, shortly after the CBN concluded a stress audit on them.

Other prominent figures on the latest debtor list are: Mike Adenuga (jr), Sanjay Mathur, M. E. Omotsola, J. O. Ariyo, Tunde Akinyera, Kola Adegbola, O. G. Banigo, Sanni Dangote, Bello Dangote and Kola Daisi.

The Igbinedion University, Ekene Dili Chukwu Ltd, Bayelsa State government, Wema Asset Management Limited, Transnational Corporation Plc, and Odua Investment, are also on the list.The Central Bank said that the release of the new list is a continuation of its banking industry cleansing efforts. “In furtherance of the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to assist the banks affected by the outcome of the recent CBN/NDIC Special Examination, we publish herewith the list of non-performing loans of N100m and above for Bank PHB, Spring Bank, Unity Bank, Wema Bank and Equitorial Trust Bank as at June 30, 2009”

Mohammed Abdullahi, the spokesperson for the CBN, said: “The CBN will help all the five new banks with capital adequacy issues in their loan recovery efforts, just as it did with the last five. This is because it is the nonperforming loans in all the affected banks that put their capital at risk. CBN will remain consistent and fair in its stance on banks that are in similar situations.”

According to the regulatory body, publishing the names of bank debtors is now necessary. “Following the recent regulatory action of the Central Bank of Nigeria on the five (5) banks, it has become necessary to use this medium to request the following defaulting customers of the affected banks to pay without further delay their indebtedness, failing which the banks will take all appropriate legal actions to ensure repayment. These are the largest debtors and the CBN will continue to publish the list of defaulters on an on-going basis,” the statement stated.

Our correspondent report earlier this week had said that “Nigeria’s anti-corruption police said it would soon begin investigations into Bank PHB, Equitorial Trust Bank, Spring Bank and Wema Bank..’’

The Economic and Financial Crimes commission has began prosecuting the five Chief Executives that were sacked by Mr. Sanusi in August. Some are out on bail while others remain in custody following their failure to meet bail conditions. It is expected that the EFCC will also closely examine the records of the last batch of CEO’s sacked by Mr. Sanusi. In total, nine chief executives have been sacked after an audit of all of Nigeria’s 24 financial institutions. Due to the banks’ illiquidity and under-capitalisation, the Central Bank has had to issue nearly $4 billion to bailout the nine affected banks.

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Again, RSG Begins Unveiling, Flag-Off Of Nine Key Projects, ’Morrow

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The Rivers State Government has rolled out the drums to herald another phase of official commissioning of key projects embarked upon by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.
A statement by the state government said that the process is in continuation of the commissioning and flag-off of projects by Governor Nyesom Wike.
It indicated that Rumuola flyover would be commissioned tomorrow, while the GRA flyover would be commissioned on Saturday.
The also stated that the government would commission the Ezimgbu Road on Monday, December 13, 2021; with another commissioning of Tombia Road Extension scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021.
The statement said that the governor would commission the Safe Home, Borikiri, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 15; while on Thursday, December 16, 2021, the governor would commission the Odokwu internal roads.
Also, the governor would continue the flag-off of key infrastructure projects with Chokocho-Igbodo Road slated for Monday, December 20, 2021; Oyigbo-Okoloma Road on Wednesday, December 22, 2021; and Magistrates’ Court Complex, Port Harcourt on Thursday, December 23, 2021.

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Wike Justifies N7bn Libel Suit Against THISDAY

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, yesterday, appeared before the state High Court in Port Harcourt, to testify as a witness in an N7billion libel suit against THISDAY Newspaper.
Wike said he was in court to seek justice and clear his name as a person from the malicious publication by THISDAY Newspaper, which portrayed him as deceitful, untrustworthy person, who exerts subterranean influences on judicial matters and over court sittings in Port Harcourt.
It would be recalled that Wike had in August, 2020, slammed a N7billion suit being damages for libel written and published in THISDAY’s Tuesday, June 23, 2020 edition captioned, “With Wike, Obaseki Meets His PDP’s Waterloo; Almost.”
The defendants in the suit are THISDAY Newspapers Limited, Leaders and Company Limited, Davidson Iriekpan, Chuks Okocha and Adibe Emenyonu.
Wike, while testifying as witness in suit No. PHC/1505/CS/2020 before the court presided over by Justice A. Enebeli, asserted that the defendants maliciously and falsely portrayed him as an unreliable friend/person.
“When you say somebody cannot be trusted; that cannot be a fair comment. When you say somebody is influencing the Judiciary, that cannot be a fair comment”, the governor said.
In his written statement on oath, Wike had stated that the defendants had accused him of influencing the decision of the court sitting in Port Harcourt that granted an injunction restraining Godwin Obaseki from participating in the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State in 2020.
He stated that the defendants maliciously accused him of undemocratically exerting influence on the primaries process of PDP in Edo State in aid of his ally, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who was the beneficiary of the court order restraining Obaseki from participating in the PDP primaries.
The governor, who told the court that he was not even aware of the aforementioned suit by Ogbeide-Ihama against Obaseki, said the publication was reckless, false and without regards for the truth.
According to him, contrary to well-known journalistic tradition and practices, the defendants did not investigate properly to ensure the information they relied on was accurate.
“They did not seek to verify the facts from me or in any manner oblige me with the opportunity to state my own side of the story before proceeding to make the false publication” the governor argued.
Wike stated that the defendants further denigrated him before the entire world as a fake democrat, who engages in meddling in the internal affairs of All Progressives Congress (APC) in order to get at his political foe, Chibuike Amaechi.
The governor explained that he was not a member of the APC and has had no hand in the internal crisis which has bedevilled the party both in Rivers State and all over Nigeria.
“By the letter of Messrs E.C. Ukala and Co., Solicitors, under the hand of Emmanuel C. Ukala, SAN, dated 23rd June, 2020, the defendants were given opportunity to retract, and recant the publication as well as to offer apology for the false publication but the defendants spurned the opportunity and ignored the letter completely.”
The governor, while responding to claim by lawyer to the defendants, Turudu Ede, SAN, that the essence of the lawsuit was to intimidate and harass his clients, said the whole essence of the suit was to get justice and clear his name as a man of substantial character, honour and repute.
“The essence of the suit is to get justice since they (defendants) refused to retract the publication or apologise. So, I sued them to clear my name.”
Speaking to journalists outside the court, one of the lawyers to Wike, Mr. Mark Agwu said his client was in court to seek legal redress.
“To challenge him as a person, it means you have made him untrustworthy, a deceit, a cheat, an influencer of the court, because the publication they made was that he had a role to play in influencing the outcome of that Federal High Court case. Nobody will take that lightly, and especially for a man who believes in the rule of law”, Agwu added.
The court adjourned the matter for further hearing to 12th, 13th and 14th of January, 2022.

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$130m Fraud: Rivers Sues Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Firm, Others

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The Rivers State Government has charged two construction firms, Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd, to court over an alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the state of the sum of $130million, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.
In a 16-count criminal charge filed by the Director of Public Prosecution, C.F. Amadi for the Rivers State Attorney General, the state alleged that after collecting the said sum as advanced payment between 2011 and 2018, the defendants have not kept their obligation under the contract.
Others charged alongside the companies were Walter Peviana; Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe; Giandomenico Zingali; Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli, who are directors and officers of the companies.
The defendants are charged with various offences ranging from conspiracy, cheating and obtaining credit by false pretence, contrary to Section 518 (6) and (7) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999, section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State, amongst others.
Already, the Rivers State Government has issued a fiat to the law firm of Godwin Obla (SAN) to prosecute the matter before the state High court.
The defendants are equally charged for the offence of false Statements by Officials of Companies contrary to and punishable under Section 436 (b).
The prosecution specifically accused the defendants of obtaining credit of $130million by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $20,467,942.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b), obtaining credit of N7,000,000,000.00 only by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b).
They are charged for obtaining credit of N318,640,173.54, by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); attempt to cheat $97million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; attempt to cheat $15million contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509; conspiracy to receive a credit of $97million by false pretences contrary to Section 518 (6) and punishable under Section 518; cheating $11million contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating N110, 097, 416.51 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; cheating by collecting sums attributable to shared facilities already paid for in AFAM Phase I in AFAM Phase II contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421.
Obtaining N20, 467, 942 contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421; obtaining credit of $60,168,936.00 by false pretences or other fraud, contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b); obtaining credit of $1,512,034.00 by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b) all of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.
According to the Proof of Evidence attached to the charge and the statement made by the Head, Power Generation/Mechanical of the Rivers State Ministry of Power, one Mr Temple Azunda M., the facts constituting the case in hand are as follows:
Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited and other officers of the duo, herein the Defendants, are Italian companies which services have been retained by the Rivers State Government, herein RSG, in several projects, prominent amongst which is the AFAM Phase II Power Plant Project.
By an initial tripartite agreement made on the January 20, 2010, the RSG under the auspices of the Rivers State Ministry of Power entered a contract with Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, Saipem SPA for the construction of the OGCT power plant in Port Harcourt at a total cost of $119million consequent upon which the Rivers State Government made advance payments, in instalments, to Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd and Saipem SPA amounting in total to a sum of $130million in all which the Defendants have acknowledged receipt of.
The Defendants were to be given an initial mobilization of 20per cent of the total contract sum which the RSG paid.
It was part of the initial agreement – and indeed a condition sine qua non – that, to access the 2nd tranche of payment of 25per cent from the Rivers State Government, the Defendants would mandatorily have installed the Gas Turbine into the foundations as referenced in ATTACHMENT 1 to VO 007 which states that:
CONTRACTOR shall be entitled to a payment corresponding to 20per cent of the VO No. 007 LS PRICE upon mobilisation to site and commencement of bush clearing activities at SITE.
Upon commencement of bush clearing activities at the site, the contractor shall issue the invoice relevant to the above payment and the owner shall pay such invoice within 14 days from its issuance.
The parties agree that no deduction for recovery of advance payment shall apply on the payment due to the contractor for invoices issued by the contractor in accordance with this paragraph.

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