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Access Bank Acquisition Scandal: What Aig-Imoukhuede, Evelyn Oputu, Bukola Saraki, must do to absolve late Herbert Wigwe

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Beyond the poesy and pageantry of Herbert Wigwe’s funeral, an enduring yarn situates him where votive hyacinths relay the promise of an eternal Eden.

Can Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Evelyn Oputu, Bukola Saraki, others come out to affirm or refute rumours of their alleged complicity in the misfortune that befell defunct Intercontinental Bank and its deposed head honcho, Erastus Akingbola?

Since Wigwe’s sad demise in a chopper crash alongside his wife and son, in the United States, the social space has erupted with certain uncomplimentary revelations concerning the role he played and steps he took in concert with his friends and business associates to defraud former Intercontinental Bank Managing Director (MD), Erastus Akingbola.

Amid the uproar generated by the ugly disclosures of fraudulent acts allegedly perpetrated by the late Wigwe and his business partner and friend, Aig-Imoukhuede, in concert with others, The Nation columnist, Sam Omatseye has lent his voice to the debate, urging Wigwe’s friends and associates to come out and set the records straight.

In his column of February 26, 2024, titled, ‘Before Wigwe Goes Home,’ Omatseye noted that Wigwe’s death has let out a lot of steam, especially about how Intercontinental Bank under Erastus Akingbola was dissolved in a frenetic acquisition move.

He said, “The tale was daubed a tilapia swallowing a whale, a miracle of fraud. Names were mentioned who are still alive. It is only the living in this tale that can-do credit to the departed Wigwe and restore his superfine image. If they love Wigwe, the men who have been fingered in this fantastic heist should come out and tell us their role or lack of it in this drama of Gulliver traveling over industry Lilliputians.

“Aig-Imoukhuede ought to say something, and not him alone, but also his mother in-law madam Evelyn Oputu over a mobile elixir of N50 billion that moved in and out without a stain. What of Bukola Saraki, our Eleyinmi and former governor of Kwara State and fall guy of Otoge? He has kept mum over his role in allegedly stage-managing a classic revenge after Akingbola did not oblige the saviour of his bank.” |

Is it true? What of former CBN governor Lamido Sanusi, the former Kano emir, who has greeted the buzz with uncharacteristic silence? We need Wigwe to go “gentle into that good night,” not with the stories of filth and official brigandage. Their silence is viewed by many as consent, argued Omatseye.

It would be recalled that an official of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Paul Akali, told the Federal High Court in Lagos in 2020 that Access Bank owed the now-defunct Intercontinental Bank N14.2bn as of the time it went under.

Akali, a member of the NDIC team that investigated Intercontinental Bank for regulatory infractions in May 2009, told the court that despite the N14.2bn debt, the distressed Intercontinental Bank was sold to Access Bank by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The probe and indictment of Intercontinental Bank, as well as the removal of then-Managing Director, Erastus Akingbola, happened under the watch of Lamido Sanusi as the CBN Governor.

In 2019, a former Chief Inspector with Intercontinental Bank, Abdulraheem Jimoh, revealed in court how loans granted by Akingbola to certain individuals and companies were waived.

He made the disclosure at Akingbola’s trial, when he was arraigned on an amended 22-count charge bordering on abuse of office, conversion of funds belonging to Intercontinental Bank and stealing.

Jimoh, while being further cross-examined by Wole Olanipekun, SAN, counsel to the defendant, told the court that his investigations and findings into the alleged fraud lasted about four months.

He told the court that he knew a company called United Alliance Company of Nigeria Limited that was also granted the sums of N14.5billion, N14.27billion and N10.97billion in tranches, which were not repaid.

The witness affirmed what the defence said that the directors of the United Alliance Company of Nigeria Limited were Herbert Onyewumbu Wigwe, the Managing Director of Access Bank and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

Jimoh also confirmed that Laide Alabi, who succeeded Akingbola, wrote off loans amounting to billions of Naira in favour of those close to him, including a former governor and current Senate President of Nigeria, Bukola Saraki.

Another interesting angle to the scandal materialized in the form of a viral post on social media after Wigwe’s demise.

In the post, the writer stated, “May Herbert’s soul rest in peace. I however look at the story of Access Bank from another prism based on my inside knowledge of what happened. The story of Access Bank can’t be complete without looking at its foundation. The money to buy Access Bank didn’t come from any investors but a loan of about N16B from Intercontinental Bank (IB) managed by Akingbola. It was Akingbola that gave them that break to buy Access. That money was never paid back. Sanusi (Aig’s school mate at KC) as the CBN governor declared IB insolvent and put it up for sale. It was offered to Aig and Access Bank for N50b. A bank that was many times the size of Access bank. A bank with 350 branches offered for such ridiculous sum. Check the records, no other bank has been so cheaply sold in Nigeria. Access Bank didn’t have the money but Evelyn Oputu of BOI who is Aig’s mother in-law gave them the loan to buy IB. They paid the funds, took over the bank and then refunded the loan the next day. It was the biggest scam in Nigeria banking history. Of course, the N16B loan was never repaid. I want to be clear that this is not talking evil of the dead but setting the records straight. I do not hold the Access scam against Herbert personally but I can’t keep quiet when records are being misrepresented. Akingbola was literally destroyed. But all said and done, to what purpose is our rat race and wealth acquisition. May the souls of Herbert, his family and others in this accident rest in peace.”

Reacting to the narratives, a staunch loyalist and employee of the late Wigwe, Etim Etim, contended that, “The acquisition of Intercontinental Bank arose from the mismanagement of the bank, the insider abuse and the fraudulent activities perpetrated by its directors. The transaction followed all due processes according to the laws of Nigeria and was approved by the courts and the regulatory authorities. If the CBN did not find a buyer for Intercontinental, the bank would probably have gone the way of Bank PHB and a few others that were not acquired and were on continued life support from the treasury. Thus, the purchase of Intercontinental by Access saved the nation a colossal waste of resources.

He dismissed as flippant, claims that the acquisition of Intercontinental by Access Bank was akin to a ‘’tilapia swallowing a whale.”

He said, “This is a misleading and false imagery purportedly indicating that Intercontinental was bigger than Access at the time of the transaction. In the first place, the financial strength of a bank is not all about the number of branches it has and the height of its headquarter building, which the public usually sees.

“Rather, its strength is measured in terms of financial ratios, namely: efficiency ratio; profitability ratio; capital adequacy ratio; income-expenditure ratio; and deposits and return ratios. These are not visible to the public and may not be understood by those who are not financially literate. Intercontinental’s ratios were in the red when the acquisition occurred. Its huge after-tax loss of N321 billion for the year ended September 2009 was one of the biggest in the industry then. On the other hand, Access Bank was then in its tenth year after it was taken over by Herbert and AigbojeAig-Imokhuede. It was very profitable and the ratios were very positive.”

Against the backdrop of all these dramas, it has become necessary for the late Wigwe’s friends to come out and either issue a rebuttal or affirmation of the scandalous narrative concerning he and his partner’s acquisition of Access Bank.

Their continued silence, as noted by Omatseye, is translatable as an affirmation of their purported roles and complicity in the scandalous transaction.

Source: TheCapital.ng

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Aviation

DANA Incident :Tukur warns against stripping NCAA’s autonomy

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The Nigerian Government has suspended the operations of Dana Air. The order followed an incident involving a Dana Air plane at Lagos airport

Former Assistant General Secretary of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Alhaji Mohammed Tukur
has warned against the danger of undermining the autonomy of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA).

Alhaji Tukur in a statement described the the grounding of all the fleet of the DANA by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace, Barrister Festus Keyamo as a usurpation of the powers of the NCAA.

“The action of the Minister is like putting our civil aviation on a reverse to the era between the late eighties and the early time of the present democratic dispensation when President Obasanjo for no just course ordered the grounding of the entire Chanchangi fleet over Bellview crash.”

He noted that the development was a dangerous signal that must be repealed so that the civil aviation authority would not be relegated to an appendage of the Ministry.

The former AON scribe further described the grounding of DANA, an airline that just scaled through the economic audit of the NCAA as unfortunate stressing that it was also happening at the wake of the authority’s successful safety audit and FAA’s category one.

“It’s ironic for Keyamo who recently complained of high insurance rates and leasing costs faced by the Nigerian operators to come up with such hammer on DANA which gives an impression that our CAA lacks independence and oversight capability”.

Alhaji Tukur further observed that there was likely an aqua plain on the runway because of the rain saying that it was necessary to have waited for the investigators to come up with the plenary report while only the aircraft involved should have been grounded.

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 ‘Multichoice, a scam’ – Nigerians react to new prices for DStv, GOtv

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There has been growing concerns among Nigerians over the recent increase in subscription fees for Multichoice products, specifically

There has been growing concerns among Nigerians over the recent increase in subscription fees for Multichoice products, specifically Gotv and Dstv. Many Nigerians have expressed their dissatisfaction with the company’s decision to raise prices annually, claiming that it is becoming excessive and burdensome for consumers.

Multichoice on Wednesday jacked up the prices of its offerings in Nigeria four months after its last increment. The company reviewed prices in its packages across the board. The new prices will take effect from May 1, 2024.

With the latest price hike, the DStv Premium package increased from N29,500 to N37,000. Similarly, the DStv Compact+ went up from N19,800 to N25,000 while the Compact package increased from N12,500 to N15,700.

The Comfam package moved from N7,400 to N9,300. Yanga package moved up from 4,200 to N5,100 while Padi package increased from N2,950 to N3,600. HDPVR was increased from N4,000 to N5,000, the Access Fees package from N4,000 to N5,000, and XtraView moved from N4,000 to N5,000.

Meanwhile, the Gotv Supa+ package moved from N12,500 to N15,700, Supa package from N7,600 to N9,600, and Max package from N5,700 to N7,200.

While the Jolli package was jacked up from N3,950 to N4,850, the Jinja package moved from N2,700 to N3,300, and Smallie package from N1,300 to N1,575.

The company implemented an upward review of prices in December 2023, days after announcing a $72m loss in its financial statement for the third quarter of the year.

Checks on the company’s reviewed price list then showed a 20 per cent per cent hike in the company’s packages across the board.

In April 2023, the broadcasting company also announced an upward review of prices on its DStv and GOtv packages by 17 per cent.

This was confirmed in a text message sent to customers that the new rates will take effect on May 1, 2023.

The pay-tv firm said the price adjustment was due to the rising costs of business operations.

“Please note that from May 1, your monthly subscription (premium) will be N24,500. To retain your old price of N21,000 for up to 12 months ensure you are active by April 30,” the text message reads.

Also, in March 22, MultiChoice increased the prices of its DStv and GOtv packages.

Announcing the increase in a statement, the company said the rising costs of inflation and business operations led to the increment in the prices of the packages.

As a result, there have been calls for the government, represented by the National Assembly leaders, to intervene and possibly even ban the usage of Multichoice products in the country.

The rationale behind this move is to safeguard the interests of Nigerian consumers who are grappling with the escalating cost of living in the country. The situation has led to heightened tensions between the company and its customers, with many calling for a more equitable and transparent pricing model.

Businesses need to respond to the concerns of their customers, particularly in a highly competitive market such as the media and entertainment industry. Multichoice’s current pricing policy has been met with significant resistance from Nigerian consumers, and the company must take proactive steps to address these concerns. Failure to do so may result in a loss of customer loyalty, decreased revenue, and reputational damage.

The PAPERS speaks with some consumers about the latest Multichoice products prices.

A civil engineer, Mr. Albert Ihedioha said: “It is not their fault; our government gave them the audacity to be scamming us deliberately. The government is not doing enough to protect the citizen of this country from scamming company like Multichoice. What stops this company from operating pay-as-you-go?  As for me, I have stopped using my DStv, I will look into anther cable for cheaper rate, enough is enough for DStv.

Another consumer, Mr. Kazzem Olaonipekun who operates lounge business also speaks against the hike and called it ‘scam’.

“This is not acceptable, I want call on the government to checkmate this South African company, we can’t accept this. This is like a daylight robbery and scam, imagine the inflation, look at the price and how they have been consistently doing it for three years. These are the people running down our economy, president Tinubu must intervene to this act with urgency.”

Speaking in the same vein, Mrs. Nkechi Sinat, a bar owner in Owerri said it is over to the Nigeria government to call Multichoice to order.

She said: “The truth of the matter is that those who are supposed to checkmate them have taken bribes, and that is why they feel they can do anyhow in our own country. Can we go to South Africa to do such? The kind of leverages they have here, can we have it there? As for me and my family, no more GOtv or DStv, and I want to confirm to you that I am selling off my dish once the current subscription expires next week.”

Mr. Michael Ighodalo from Belgium questions the manner at which some companies operate in Nigeria which is different from the way they operate in their own countries.

Hear him: “In a democratic country like Nigeria, such nonsense should stop. I think the Senate needs to look into this, especially this time when people are facing hardship, Multichoice is not reasonable at all. Is that the way they behave in their own country? I am calling on every Nigerian to stand up and say NO to MULTICHOICE and its products. They should stop the extortion. We have other products in the country why can’t we patronize them and dump these Multichoice products?”

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NGX: Investors lose N673bn in five hours

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Investors in the Nigerian equities market endured another bearish session on Wednesday as they lost N673 billion at the end of trading.

Investors in the Nigerian equities market endured another bearish session on Wednesday as they lost N673 billion at the end of trading.

This followed the dip in the share value of MTNN, Transcorp Hotel, Oando and FBNH on the trading floor today.

After five hours of trading at the capital market, the equity capitalization decreased to N55.4 trillion from N56.1 trillion posted by the bourse on Tuesday.

Similarly, the All-Share Index (ASI) decreased to 98,121.30 from 99,311.54 achieved by the bourse the previous day.

The market breadth was positive as 20 stocks advanced, 19 declined, while 78 others remained unchanged in 7,907 deals.

Sunu Assurances Nigeria, Neimeth International Pharmaceutical, and The Initiate led other gainers with 10% growth each in share price to close at N1.21, N1.98, and N1.98 from their previous price of N1.10, N1.80, and N1.80 per share.

UPDC, CAP, and McNichol also increased their share prices by 9.90%, 9.90%, and 9.57% respectively.

On the flip side, MTN Nigeria Communications and Transcorp Hotels led other price decliners as they shed 10% each off their share prices to close at N201.60 and N87.93 from their previous N224.00 and N97.70 per share.

Oando, First Bank of Nigeria Holdings (FBNH), and Fidson Healthcare equally shed their share prices by 9.90%, 9.82%, and 9.75% respectively.

On the volume index, Guaranty Trust Holding Company traded 81.407 million shares valued at N2.9 billion in 444 deals followed by Zenith Bank which traded 46.156 million shares worth N1.69 billion in 650 deals.

United Bank for Africa (UBA) traded 41.600 million shares valued at N953.5 million in 717 deals.

On the value index, GTCO recorded the highest value for the day trading stocks worth N2.93 billion in 444 deals followed by Zenith Bank which traded equities worth N1.69 billion in 650 deals.

UBA traded stocks worth N953 million in 717 deals.

Source: RipplesNigeria

 

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FULL LIST: Multichoice hikes DStv, GOtv prices

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Broadcasting company Multichoice has jacked up the prices of its offerings in Nigeria four months after its last increment.

Broadcasting company Multichoice has jacked up the prices of its offerings in Nigeria four months after its last increment.

The company reviewed prices in its packages across the board. The new prices will take effect from May 1, 2024.

With the latest price hike, the DStv Premium package increased from N29,500 to N37,000. Similarly, the DStv Compact+ went up from N19,800 to N25,000 while the Compact package increased from N12,500 to N15,700.

The Comfam package moved from N7,400 to N9,300. Yanga package moved up from 4,200 to N5,100 while Padi package increased from N2,950 to N3,600. HDPVR was increased from N4,000 to N5,000, the Access Fees package from N4,000 to N5,000, and XtraView moved from N4,000 to N5,000.

Meanwhile, the Gotv Supa+ package moved from N12,500 to N15,700, Supa package from N7,600 to N9,600, and Max package from N5,700 to N7,200.

While the Jolli package was jacked up from N3,950 to N4,850, the Jinja package moved from N2,700 to N3,300, and Smallie package from N1,300 to N1,575.

The PAPERS reports that the company implemented an upward review of prices in December 2023, days after announcing a $72m loss in its financial statement for the third quarter of the year.

Checks on the company’s reviewed price list then showed a 20 per cent per cent hike in the company’s packages across the board.

 

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UBA branches sealed over alleged N14.3 million unpaid tax

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The Kaduna Internal Revenue Service, KADIRS, on Wednesday sealed the United Bank for Africa branches in the state metropolis over

The Kaduna Internal Revenue Service, KADIRS, on Wednesday sealed the United Bank for Africa branches in the state metropolis over alleged N14.3million unpaid tax.

Speaking to newsmen after the excercise, Aysha Ahmad, the KADIRS Board Secretary/Legal Adviser, said the enforcement was to ensure tax compliance in the whole state in respect of withholding taxes and money agents.

“We sent so many demand notices to them. We have asked them to pay the money but they refused, we are left with no other option but to enforce,” she said.

Mrs Ahmad added that the service wants voluntary compliance of tax payment, while lamenting that the defaulter had been recalcitrant.

She, however, said when the defaulters pay, the service would unseal the premises.

Speaking further, the board secretary said the the enforcement was part of a rocess to achieve the N120billion revenue target set by the Kaduna state government.

“To achieve a target, there is always a starting point. Sealing UBA branches in the state for tax default is our start. We are also going after all other defaulters to get what is due for the state government.

“We served them with demand notices . We have been communicating with their consultant and Headquarters. Infact, they even took us to court and the outcome was like a win-win situation at the tax appeal tribunal.

“The court gave us directives to review our assessment which we did and they did not still comply. It is on the reviewed assessment we are enforcing this morning,” she said.

Mrs Ahmad called on the people of the state to ensure voluntary tax compliance, describing it as a civic responsibility.

NAN

 

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MTN records highest number of subscribers porting to other networks

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Telecommunications giant, MTN, has recorded the highest number of subscribers porting out of its network since inception to December 2022.

Telecommunications giant, MTN, has recorded the highest number of subscribers porting out of its network since inception to December 2022.

This is according to the Nigerian Communications Commission in its newly published 2022 Subscriber/Network Data Annual Report.

The report represents the analysis of the Subscriber and Service Data – Porting Trend in Nigeria, from May 2013 to December 2022.

The analysis revealed that of the four major GSM operators in the country, 444,226 subscribers ported out of MTN to other network providers, as against Airtel, Glo and EMTS that respectively recorded 351,422; 277,527; and 190,724 customers porting out.

The analysis also revealed that EMTS recorded 676,944 port-ins, representing the highest number of subscribers porting into its network, followed by AIRTEL with 331,837; MTN with 181,301; and Glo with 105,746 port-ins.

A segment of the report titled, ‘C. subscriber & service data – porting trend in Nigeria as at December 2022’, highlighted the number of GSM porting activities across the four major network providers in the country.

It read, “Table 14 below shows the trend of Nigeria’s porting activities from inception (May, 2013 to December, 2022) for the four (4) major GSM Operators. The analysis illustrates that EMTS had the highest count of Port-in subscribers [676,944] while Airtel, MTN and Glo respectively recorded the following counts of port-in as follows [331,837]; [181,301] & [105,746].”

“Similarly, our analysis from May, 2013 to December, 2022, reveals that MTN had the highest number of subscribers that ported-out [444,226] to other networks while Airtel, Glo & EMTS are as follows [351,422]; [277,527] & [190,742] respectively.”

 

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