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Nigeria Freezes Accounts Of Sacked Bank Chiefs As Depositors Make Panic Withdrawals

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The Nigerian anti-graft agency said Saturday it had frozen the accounts of the sacked directors of five ailing banks for running the institutions into insolvency.

“We have frozen the accounts of the former managing directors and executive directors of the five banks,” Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) spokesman Femi Babafemi told our correspondent

He said the agency had also invited the auditors of the affected banks for questioning.

“The auditors have to tell us what they know about the financials of the banks. How they came about huge debts and non-performing loans without the auditors raising the alarm,” he said.

The heads of Afribank plc, Intercontinental Bank plc, Union Bank plc, Oceanic Bank plc and Finbank plc were removed on August 14 by the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for piling up billions of dollars in bad debts and inefficiency.

The CBN accused the banks’ management of granting loans to prominent Nigerian businessmen and companies without following best practice.

The total loan portfolio of these five banks came to N2,801.92 billion, according to CBN.

Margin loans amounted to N456.28 billion and exposure to oil and gas loans amounted to N487.02 billion while aggregate non-performing loans stood at N1,143 billion, it said.

The EFCC has given the debtors one week to pay up or face arrest and prosecution.

Meanwhile, panic withdrawals by depositors and a thick cloud of uncertainty are shaking Nigeria’s financial sector after the sacking of the directors of five key ailing banks, operators and analysts said.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi earlier this month removed the heads of Afribank, Intercontinental Bank, Union Bank, Oceanic Bank and Finbank for piling up billions of dollars in bad debts.

The books of about a dozen other banks are also currently under CBN scrutiny to determine their viability, debts and liquidity status.

“There are apprehensions in the industry on what will be the fate of the remaining banks because of CBN’s action,” a treasury manager in one of the nation’s banks, Sunday Adeola, told our correspondent.

The dismissals of the bank chiefs and the anti-graft agency’s threat to arrest, prosecute or seize property of the debtors of the banks if they failed to pay in a week has put the heat on the sector, analysts said.

“The… system has witnessed massive cash outflows in recent days. Depositors are jittery and they are withdrawing their money,” said analyst Joel Allison.

“Bank vaults are becoming empty and if the trend continues we may have another bank failure on our hands,” he said, recalling the liquidation of dozens of distressed banks in the 1990s after bad management and fraud.

Dozens of the owners and managers of those failed banks were prosecuted or jailed while others fled the country to evade arrest.

The CBN chief earlier this month accused the management of the five ailing banks of giving loans to prominent Nigerian businessmen and companies without adhering to good corporate governance and risk management practices.

He put the total loan portfolio of the ailing banks at N2.8 trillion.

The CBN has also published a list of dozens of prominent Nigerians businessmen as debtors to these banks.

The list includes tycoon Aliko Dangote, rated by US Forbes magazine as one of the world’s richest Africans with a net worth of around $3.3 billion.

Dangote, 52, who is also the new president of the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) has denied managing the oil and gas company listed as owing Intercontinental Bank more than eight billion naira.

The Nigerian government has in the past days tried to calm the nerves of agitated bank depositors by assuring them that their money is safe and that it will not allow the debt-ridden banks to sink.

The government has already announced a N400 billion naira  bailout for the affected banks.

Nigeria’s central labour movement NLC lauded Sanusi’s action, and urged the CBN to restore public confidence in the industry.

Rasheed Yusuf of the Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria also called for proper management of the situation “in a way that the market will not be jeopardised.”

The confusion in this important sector of the Nigerian economy is further exacerbated by the fact that three key players — Dangote, NSE director general, Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke and International Bank’s ex-boss, Erastus Akingbola  were listed by the CBN as bank debtors.

Okereke-Onyiuke is also a director in Transnational Corp, a failing conglomerate, which the CBN says owes Union Bank about N31 billion.

Five years ago, in a bid to shore up the capital base of these financial institutions, the number of banks was cut from more than 90 to 25 solid ones.

The figure later dropped to 24 when two of the banks merged.

But that early caution appears to have dissolved in more recent times and the global economic crisis has made the credit crunch that much tougher.

Mindful of the 1990s banking crisis, weary Nigerians are being cautious.

“Yesterday I took all my money from my bank to avoid possible unpleasant consequences,” said Femi Afolabi, a Lagos hotelier, who lost almost three million naira in 1995 when his bank failed.

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Akeredolu will be remembered for truth, justice – Aiyedatiwa

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Gov. Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo State on Wednesday said the late former Governor of the state, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, would be remembered for his good deeds, especially standing for truth and justice.

Aiyedatiwa stated this during a special court session held in honour of the late former governor at the Ondo State High Court in Akure.

He explained that the former governor used his knowledge, ebullience and capacities to defend the human peaceful existence.

Aiyedatiwa added that the deceased deeds during his life time were greatly impactful.

According to him, the deceased was after justice and rule of law.

Aiyedatiwa said that late Akeredolu was always not pleased when justice was not served.

He described the honour bestowed on the late governor as a well deserved because his life evolved around the legal profession.

“He was an achiever with success stories. He stood firm and was committed to truth and justice,” he said.

Also speaking, the Chief Judge (CJ) of the state, Justice Olusegun Odusola, said that late Akeredolu remained celebrated in death more than being alive considering a reference to his achievements and attainment in life.

Odusola said that the late governor was a courageous fighter, who faced the serious security challenges in the state with ingenious courage that had become a national model.

He stated that it was more-worthy that the late governor did not interfere with judicial activities, even when it did not favour his desires.

According to him, late Akeredolu was a man that lived with his words.

“In my last encounter with him at a time when his health was obviously failing, Arakunrin still reiterated his desire to construct a judiciary complex that will be the envy of other states in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“He also spoke about judges’ welfare and I wondered how a man in such a condition could still love the judiciary so much as to remember the little promises he made,” he said.

The CJ said that late Akeredolu was an outstanding legal icon and a political colossus, a man who was an exemplar of indefatigable courage, principled resistance with honesty and self-respect.

He stated that late Akeredolu would continue to be a good reference point in humanity.

In his remarks, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Yakubu Maikyau, described the late governor as a man with keen passion to help humanity and secure peace.

Maikyau added that the deceased was a person of humility known for truth and justice, and asked the deceased family to take solace in the good deeds of the late governor.

Dignitaries present include Gov. Abdulrasak Abdulrahman of Kwara; Ondo State Deputy Gov, Olayide Adelami; Chief Olusola Oke, SAN; and APC Chairman in Ondo State, Mr Ade Adetimehin.

Others are human rights lawyer, Mr Kayode Ajulo; Ambassador Sola Iji, Speaker Ondo State House of Assembly; and former Inspector of Police, Mr Sunday Ehindero.

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Gunmen Kill Police Inspector In Rivers 

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The Rivers State Police Command said an Inspector was killed by gunmen who ambushed and attacked its men on a stop and search duty at the Eliozu Flyover in Obio/Akpo Local Government Area of the state on Wednesday night.

The spokesperson of the command, Grace Iringe-Koko, disclosed this in a statement issued yesterday.

Iringe-Koko said the gunmen who were spotted in a carton-colored Sienna bus with fully tinted glasses drove in from the Rumuodumaya axis, near Port Harcourt where they launched the offensive which claimed the officer’s life.

She, however, said the team rose to the occasion and returned fire and neutralised one of the miscreants who wore masks, but that other gang members escaped by the whisker.

The statement reads, “We are deeply saddened to announce a heinous incident that occurred on 21st February 2024, involving an attack on policemen attached to Operation Sting of the Rivers State Police Command.

“At approximately 2145hrs, while conducting routine stop-and-search at Eliozu flyover, the officers were ambushed by unidentified hoodlums operating in a carton-colored Sienna bus, with fully tinted glasses.

“The registration number of the vehicle remains unknown at this time.

“The assailants drove in from the Rumuodumaya axis, and opened fire on the police team, resulting in the tragic loss of one Inspector who valiantly gave his life in the line of duty.

“Undeterred, the police team responded with bravery, engaging the attackers and managing to neutralise one of them with a mask on his face, while the others managed to escape, potentially sustaining gunshot wounds.

“The command has launched a thorough investigation into this despicable act and has already identified the group responsible.

“Rest assured, we will relentlessly pursue these criminals and bring them to justice. No amount of intimidation will hinder our officers’ unwavering commitment to safeguarding the lives and property of the citizens.”

While noting that such acts of aggression against security forces detrimentally impact the safety and security of our entire society, she stressed that the command remains resolute in its duty to maintain peace and protect the well-being of the populace.

“The Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, reiterates unequivocally that those who perpetrate violence against policemen or any citizen will face the full weight of the law.

“We urge all law-abiding citizens to continue with their daily activities without panic, as we are determined to uphold our mandate of preserving lives and property in the face of such challenges.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and colleagues of the fallen inspector, and we assure them that his sacrifice will not be in vain. Our resolve to serve and protect remains unwavering as we stand together against those who seek to disrupt the peace and harmony of our society”, she said.

Recall that last year, a former Divisional Police Officer of Ahoada Division, Bako Angbashim, was ambushed and killed by a cult gang.

Since the death of the cop, the command has been on his trail, with constant land and air bombardments in the various hideouts of the Iceland cult leader, even as some of his lieutenants were gunned down previously.

However, on Monday, Grace Iringe-Koko,  said intelligence reports revealed that the wanted cult kingpin was killed in a recent joint security raid in the Idu-Ekpeye community, Ahoada East Local Government Area of the State.

 

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Nigeria’s GDP Grew By 3.46% In Q4 2023  -NBS

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Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product grew by 3.46 per cent year-on-year in real terms in the fourth quarter of 2023, the National Bureau of Statistics has disclosed.

In its ‘Nigerian Gross Domestic Product Report (Q4, 2023),’ released yesterday, the NBS said the growth rate is lower than the 3.52 per cent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022 and higher than the third quarter of 2023 growth of 2.54 per cent

It added that the service industry was responsible for the growth in the quarter.

Both the IMF and World Bank expected Nigeria’s economy to grow by 2.9 per cent in 2023.

The report read, “Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.46 per cent (year-on-year) in real terms in the fourth quarter of 2023.

“This growth rate is lower than the 3.52 per cent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022 and higher than the third quarter of 2023 growth of 2.54 per cent.

“The performance of the GDP in the fourth quarter of 2023 was driven mainly by the Services sector, which recorded a growth of 3.98 per cent and contributed 56.55 per cent to the aggregate GDP.”

In terms of share of the GDP, industry, and the services sectors contributed more to the aggregate GDP in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the fourth quarter of 2022.

“The agriculture sector grew by 2.10 per cent, from the growth of 2.05 per cent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022. The growth of the industry sector was 3.86 per cent, an improvement from -0.94 per cent recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022. In terms of share of the GDP, industry, and the services sectors contributed more to the aggregate GDP in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the fourth quarter of 2022. On an annual basis, GDP grew by 2.74 per cent in 2023 relative to 3.10 per cent in 2022,” the report added.

 

 

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