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N855m fraud: Appeal Court upholds 5-year conviction of Keystone bank officials

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N855m fraud: Appeal Court upholds 5-year conviction of Keystone bank officials

The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal has upheld the judgment of a Lagos State High Court, which sentenced two officials of Keystone Bank, Anayo Nwosu and Olajide Oshodi, to five years imprisonment over an N855 million fraud.

The Appeal Court, in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Folasade Ojo, dismissed the separate appeals by Nwosu and Oshodi against their conviction for lacking in merit.

Two other members of the panel Justices Olukayode Bada and Paul Bassi agreed with the lead judgment.
The appellate court resolved the three issues formulated for determination in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Justice Kudirat Jose of the lower court had, on December 9, 2019, sentenced Nwosu and Oshodi to five years imprisonment on an amended 15-count charge of conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretence brought against them by the EFCC.
The lower court had sentenced them to five years imprisonment, each on counts 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10 and 13 of stealing.
Justice Jose also convicted an Indian businessman, Ashok Israni, his company NULEC Industries Limited and Keystone Bank Limited, in her judgment.

The company and the bank were ordered to pay a fine of N20 million to the Federal Government on counts one, 10 and 13.
But dissatisfied with the lower court’s verdict, the duo approached the upper court, arguing that their right to a fair hearing was breached because the further amended charge was introduced after the close of evidence.

They also argued that the lower court went outside its jurisdiction by exceeding the maximum punishment prescribed by Section 390 of the Lagos State Criminal Code Law, Cap. 17, Vol. 2, Laws
of Lagos State under which they were charged.

But the EFCC, through its lawyer, argued that appellants did not challenge the further amended charge during the trial and that the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State permits the court to sentence a convict up to five years imprisonment if the thing stolen was worth N1,000.

In her Judgment, Justice Ojo held that the tríal court complied with the procedure laid down by law to be followed when a charge is amended and that there was no merit in the appellants’ argument that the amendment to the charge breached their right to a fair hearing.

 

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MDAs remitted N835.7bn revenue to FG in February – Edun

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MDAs remitted N835.7bn revenue to FG in February – Edun

The Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of Economy, Wale Edun, has disclosed that the revenues of government-owned enterprises, ministries, departments and agencies increased to N835.70bn in February.

This figure indicates a growth of N681.45bn or 441.78 per cent from N154.25bn MDAs remitted in the same period of 2022.

The minister stated this during a presentation titled “Reconstructing the Economy for Growth, Investment and Climate Resilience Development,” delivered at the Lagos Business School Breakfast Club, which was obtained by our correspondent.

Edun said the government had automated a two-time daily sweep of 50 per cent of MDAs and GOEs internally generated revenue since January 2, 2024, leading to more remitted earnings.

“There is an increasing revenue contribution of MDAs and GOEs, growing from 154.25 in February 2023 to 835.70bn in February 2024 through an automated two-times daily sweep of 50 per cent of MDAs and GOEs IGR since January 2, 2024,” he stated.

Recall that in December 2023, the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Finance, directed all MDAs to remit 100 per cent of their internally generated revenue to the Sub-Recurrent Account, which is a sub-component of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The government stated in a circular that the directive was to improve revenue generation, fiscal discipline, accountability, and transparency in the management of government financial resources and prevent waste and inefficiencies.

“All Ministries, Departments, and Agencies that are fully funded through the annual Federal Government budget (receiving personnel, overhead, and capital allocation) and on the schedule of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 and any addition by the Federal Ministry of Finance should remit 100 per cent of their internally generated revenue to the Sub-Recurrent Account, which is a sub-component of the Consolidated Revenue Fund,” the circular read.

The finance minister emphasised that augmenting revenues was a crucial aspect of a comprehensive execution strategy aimed at achieving a 78 per cent year-on-year rise in budgeted revenue for 2024.

He underscored the importance of implementing an upgraded government revenue assurance model, adding that the target was to reduce the budget deficit from 6.1 per cent of GDP in 2023 to 3.9 per cent.

“We have set out a robust execution plan for a 78 per cent y-o-y increase in budgeted revenue in 2024, but implementing enhanced the government’s revenue assurance model is critical with a target budget deficit of 3.9 per cent of GDP from 6.1 per cent in 2023.”

Edun underscored the government’s strategy of increasing the pricing of government securities, which had successfully attracted dollar inflows but at a higher cost to the government.

He further stated that the government had revamped the process for the commencement of 2024 capital expenditure payments by MDAs and GOEs through direct payments to contractors and employed prudent measures to minimise redundancy and reduce leakages through digitisation.

He said, “We have taken prudent expenditure measures by minimising unnecessary redundancy, reducing leakages through digitisation and eliminating inefficiencies. There is also a revamped process for the commencement of 2024 capital expenditure payments for MDAs and GOEs, which is through direct payments to contractors while promoting a government-wide cost curtailment culture across all MDAs & GOEs.”

 

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Goldman Sachs predicts N1,000/$ after bold reforms

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Goldman Sachs has described Naira as the best-performing currency this month (April), saying the currency will exchange below

Goldman Sachs has described Naira as the best-performing currency this month (April), saying the currency will exchange below N1,000 per Dollar.

The firm disclosed this in its latest report on Nigeria’s economic realities.

According to a report by Goldman Sachs economists, with the appreciation rate of the Naira in the foreign exchange market, the currency may exchange below N1,000 per Dollar in the coming months.

The report stated that the Naira rallied 12 per cent against the Dollar in April, adding to its 14 per cent surge in March.

Recall that in March, Goldman Sachs forecast that the Naira would appreciate to N1,200 per Dollar in 2024.

The group’s projection became a reality on Monday when the Naira exchanged at N1,230.61 at the official market and N1,200 at the parallel market.

With the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, intervening by selling FX to Bureau De Change operators at a revised rate of N1,101 per Dollar from N1,251, the Naira appreciated by N60, trading at 1,140 per Dollar at the Parallel Market on Friday.

In the past months, CBN has said the country has witnessed a surge in capital inflows on the backdrop of several policy interventions.

At its last Monetary Policy Committee, MPC meeting, the CBN raised the interest rate to 24.75 per cent, helping it retrace losses caused by two devaluations since June last year.

 

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Dana Air sponsors cabin crew contest in Port Harcourt

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Dana Air, Nigeria's foremost airline renowned for its commitment to Excellence, Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has

Dana Air, Nigeria’s foremost airline renowned for its commitment to Excellence, Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has announced its sponsorship of the Cabin Crew Contest in Wiiyaakara, Rivers State in partnership with the Crew Training Institute (CTI).

This initiative which is scheduled to hold on the 19th of April 2024 at the T-fad Hotel and Resort Wiiyaakara, Rivers State is part of Dana Air‘s broad corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts aimed at enhancing human capacity development, nurturing the passion of aspiring aviation professionals, and promoting professionalism in the industry said Kingsley Ezenwa, Dana Air’s Head of Corporate Communications.

According to him, ”this ”Special Edition” of the Cabin Crew Contest serves as a platform to identify and showcase the talents of young individuals aspiring to pursue careers in the aviation sector. By sponsoring this event, Dana Air demonstrates its dedication to nurturing the next generation of aviation professionals and providing them with opportunities for training, exposure, and career advancement.”

” Dana Air recognizes the importance of passion and professionalism in the aviation industry. Through initiatives like the Cabin Crew Contest, our aim is to instill these values in aspiring cabin crew members, emphasizing the significance of excellent customer service, safety consciousness, and teamwork.” He Added.

Apart from the airline’s partnership with MMA2, opening its aircraft doors to students of secondary and tertiary institutions during facility tours for educational purposes, recall that Dana Air also recently recruited young licensed aviation professionals and youth corp members across various departments empowering them with necessary hands-on training and exposure to the beautiful world of aviation.

Dana Air is one of Nigeria’s leading airlines, operating domestic flights to major cities with a focus on safety, reliability, and customer satisfaction. The airline is committed to excellence in service delivery and making a positive impact on society through its corporate social responsibility initiatives.

 

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Zenith Bank announces remarkable three-digit growth in 2023

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Zenith Bank announces remarkable three-digit growth in 2023

Zenith Bank Plc has announced its audited results for the year ended December 31, 2023, achieving a remarkable triple-digit growth of 125% in gross earnings from NGN945.6 billion reported in 2022 to NGN2.132 trillion in 2023. According to the audited financial results for the 2023 financial year presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), this impressive triple-digit growth in gross earnings resulted in a Year-on-Year (YoY) increase of 180% in Profit Before Tax (PBT) from NGN284.7 billion in 2022 to NGN796 billion in 2023. Profit After Tax (PAT) also recorded triple-digit growth of 202% from NGN223.9 billion to NGN676.9 billion in the period ended December 31, 2023.

The increase in gross earnings is primarily due to growth in interest and non-interest income. Interest income increased by 112% from NGN540 billion in 2022 to NGN1.1 trillion in 2023. Non-interest income grew by 141% from NGN381 billion to NGN918.9 billion in the same period. The increase in interest income is attributed to the growth in the size of risk assets and their effective repricing, alongside the rise in the yield of other interest-bearing instruments over the year. Growth in non-interest income was driven by significant trading gains and an increase in gains from the revaluation of foreign currencies.

The cost of funds grew from 1.9% in 2022 to 3.0% in 2023 due to the high interest rate environment while interest expense increased by 135% from NGN173.5 billion in 2022 to NGN408.5 billion in 2023. Notwithstanding the 32% growth in operating expenses in 2023, the Group’s cost-to-income ratio improved significantly from 54.4% in 2022 to 36.1% in 2023 due to improved top-line performance. Return on Average Equity (ROAE) increased by 118% from 16.8% in 2022 to 36.6% in 2023, underpinned by improved gross earnings, as the Group sought to deliver better shareholder returns. Return on Average Assets (ROAA) also grew by 95% from 2.1% to 4.1% in the same period.

The Group has continued to deepen its market leadership in key corporate and retail deposit segments as customer deposits increased by 69% from NGN9.0 trillion to NGN15.2 trillion in 2023. Its retail drive continues to yield dividends as retail deposits now constitute 46% of total deposits (compared to 44% in 2022) and grew by 77% from NGN3.97 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.04 trillion in 2023, also reinforcing increased customer confidence in the Zenith brand.

Total assets increased by 66% from NGN12.3 trillion in 2022 to NGN20.4 trillion in 2023, largely due to growth in total deposits and the revaluation of foreign currency deposits. Gross loans grew by 71% from NGN4.1 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.1 trillion in 2023 due to the revaluation of foreign currency loans and the growth in local currency risk assets. As a result of the disciplined and diligent approach to risk assets creation and management, the loan growth did not significantly impact the Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratio, which increased marginally from 4.3% to 4.4% despite the heightened risk environment and challenging operating environment, an attestation to the Group’s resilience despite headwinds and a challenging macroeconomic environment. Also, the prudential ratios remain within regulatory thresholds, with the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) and liquidity ratio at 21.7% and 71.0%, respectively, at the close of 2023.

As a demonstration of its commitment to shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend payout of NGN3.50 per share, bringing the total dividend to NGN4.00 per share.

In 2024, the Group will complete the transition to a holding company structure, which is anticipated to position it advantageously for exploring emerging opportunities in the Fintech space while bolstering its digital and retail banking initiatives. Furthermore, the Group is undertaking urgent necessary actions to meet the new minimum NGN500 billion equity capital requirement to maintain its international authorisation within the timeframe stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This will strengthen its presence in key markets to continue positioning for sustainable growth and value addition for stakeholders.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, including being recognised as Best Bank in Nigeria, for the fourth time in five years, from 2020 to 2022 and in 2024, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; the Best Bank for Digital Solutions in Nigeria in the Euromoney Awards 2023, being listed in the World Finance Top 100 Global Companies in 2023; being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 14th consecutive year, in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023, in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022 and 2023; Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and 2022; Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for four successive years from 2020 to 2023, by the Ethical Boardroom; Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria in the International Banker 2023 Banking Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation in Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards.

Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021; Bank of the Year 2023 and Retail Bank of the Year for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards. Similarly, Zenith Bank was named Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.

 

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Boardroom of Mess…. How Tinuade Sanda crisis tears Eko DisCo apart, Otubu, Egeregor, Etomi double standards’ and can of worms

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As the nation grapples with electricity challenge, Eko Electricity Distribution Plc’s (EKEDP) boardroom crisis is deepening. Directors are

As the nation grapples with electricity challenge, Eko Electricity Distribution Plc’s (EKEDP) boardroom crisis is deepening. Directors are bickering over what they described as undue personalisation of board authority, abuse of due process and vested interests.

From a managerial crisis around alleged ghost workforce and call for proper investigation, the crisis has engulfed the entire company and its private holding company.

The Federal Government, which controls 40 per cent equity is now being looked upon to intervene before things fall totally apart.

EKEDP, one of the 11 DisCos controls one-sixth of power distributed from the national grid. It covers several major commercial centres within the Lagos-Ogun axis. Its business covers three geographical areas, segmented into 11 districts, including highbrow southern part of Lagos State – Lekki, Ibeju, Islands, Orile, Ijora, Apapa, Mushin, Festac, Ojo, Ajah and Ogun State’s economic cluster of Agbara.

According to documents obtained, the crisis has become a polar fight between the chairman, Mr. Oritsedere Otubu and few directors on one side and majority of other directors on the other side, with accusations and counter-accusations of underhand dealings and impropriety.

Last year, many whistleblowers alerted the management to an entrenched malfeasance including ghost workforce, misappropriation and diversions. At the centre of this was a top official. After incessant pressure, the managing director, instituted a process for thorough investigation of the allegations, but this ran into a boardroom storm of tricks as directors openly alleged plans by certain vested interests to cover up the misdeeds.

Some directors felt Otubu, a non-executive chairman, was usurping the authority of the board and acting like an executive chairman.

Citing several documents to back up their claim, they alleged that Otubu, a minority shareholder who also represents the interest of West Power & Gas (WPG) Limited, was acting as a sole business owner and against all boardroom ethos and standards. EKEDP is a subsidiary of WPG, the core private sector majority shareholder.

Battle of wits

The simmering battle of wits snowballed into direct confrontation with the unilateral decision of Otubu to countermand the recall of EKEDP’s chief legal officer, Wola Joseph to WPG and subsequent redeployment of the managing director, Tinuade Sanda, to WPG. Most board members felt Otubu was allegedly acting a script.

Integrity is the first of the six corporate values of EKEDP, which included excellence, responsiveness, value-driven, safety and empathy.

In some of the documents, Otubu and the chairman of WPG, George Etomi, stoked a long-running boardroom intrigue, with other board members joining the fray. While Otubu authorized the recall of suspended CLO, Wola Joseph on December 5, 2023, Etomi and other directors fumed such undermined the integrity and authority of the EKEDP board and its parent company, WPG.

Otubu had written against the recall of the CLO thus: “Dear Wola, I was copied in a letter from Chairman of WPG dated 5th of Dec 2023 recalling you from the position of Chief Legal Officer to EKO DISCO. Kindly disregard this letter in its Entirety. Eko Disco will continue with its process of looking into the matter. Eko DISCO MD, Dr. Tinuade Sanda who is copied should note accordingly.”

Etomi fired back in a memo circulated to all directors thus: “Dear Dere, my attention has been drawn to a recent email sent by you to the Chief Legal Officer (CLO) and the MD/CEO EKEDP, among others, instructing that the WPG email containing the CLO’s Letter of Recall from EKEDP be disregarded in its entirety.

“I am very surprised at this turn of events because instructing the CLO to disregard a directive from the Chairman of WPG, her employer, can be considered an act of encouraging insubordination. This may easily be construed as setting a wrong precedent that could empower management staff to undermine the directors of the board at all levels.

“As you are aware, WPG is well within its rights to recall any of its staff based on the operations and management agreement executed between WPG and EKEDP.

“The rights to recall and/or discipline staff are consequential rights of WPG as the CLO’s employer. The Letter of Recall to the CLO constitutes standard practice in such cases, pending the conclusion of the investigation and determination of the matter.

“Kindly be aware that the issues that have necessitated the recall are very grieveous and nothing whatsoever should be done to condone or cover them up. Without prejudice to whatever action you want to take, WPG will go ahead to conduct a full investigation into the matter and I advise all our nominees on the EKEDC Board not to lend themselves to any cover up. The instruction to recall stands and ignoring It will be at the peril of whoever does so.”

However, not satisfied with the content of Etomi’s reply, Otubu responded insisting that the recall of the CLO to WPG was a nullity as far as he was concerned. Otubu wrote: “Dear Chairman, I’m kindly surprised at your letter as I had spoken to you on why your “Letter of Recall”’ should never have been issued in the first place and was therefore disregarded.

“I had pointed out to you that it was clearly improper for you to ‘singlehandedly’ issue instructions of such significance on behalf of WPG and on a matter that relates to you without wide consultations.

“Furthermore, these instructions are to officers in a separate company, Eko Disco, with significant government shareholding and its own processes. Issuing threats to Eko Disco staff is kindly ill-advised and of no value.

“I would therefore kindly request you to allow us the space to conduct the investigations properly. Without prejudice, I will no more be joining issues with you on this matter as you are expected to recuse yourself.

“Be that as it may, you can kindly rest assured that this matter would be handled fairy and with the seriousness it deserves. I would also kindly assure you that we will not protect anyone found guilty of wrongdoing.”

Etomi responded with a stinker that opened a can of worms. He wrote: “Dear Dere, Let me remind you that when you spoke to me it was more about how this matter can be suppressed and I told you very clearly that I would not stand for that.

“Given the reference to GEP of course I will recuse myself from any investigative panel that will be set up to look into this matter. I do not see how recalling a WPG employee that serious allegations have been made against can be wrong. On the contrary, your assumption of my guilt is what shows your bias and I do not trust any process in this matter that is chaired by you.

“I know of people you have spoken to insinuate my culpability. I will not allow you or anyone else use this inexcusable action of the CLO to tarnish my hard earned reputation.

“Thankfully, a thorough investigation will reveal the truth. The federal government participation in our business is all the more reason why nothing should be swept under the carpet. You can do whatever you like but it will not be at my expense.”

Few against many

Most other board members felt there were untoward abrogation of due process and board authority. A director, Simon Ani, in a document circulated to board members, detailed their concerns. Ani wrote: “Dear Ernest (Oji) and Chairman Dere (Otubu), I want to respond to both your e-mails regarding the matter of Eko’s CLO Wola, as follows:- “Re Ernest’s below mail.

“Ernest (Oji), you have a good point and I agree with you, but you will also note that George (Etomi) has called for a WPG Meeting on the 19th and this matter is already listed on the Agenda. And in one of George’s mails to Dere, George has already said he will recuse himself. But your point was in order.

“Re Chairman Dere’s Mails of 05th December 2023 to Wola copying Eko Directors and 06th December 2023 responding to George and copying WPG Directors and shareholders.

Charman D (Otubu),

“I’m sorry to say, but honestly, I think your mails are ill-advised and inappropriate For two reasons:- (a) WPG have written earlier this year to all of us directors on Eko’s board, clarifying that we are there representing WPG’s interest. We are not there for any other purpose. We are not there representing our own shareholdings. WPG nominated us to sit there to look after WPG’s interests.

“Also, WPG have written clarifying that we are all ‘non- executive directors’ including you, Chairman, you are a ‘non-executive charman’. As such, none of us, including you chairman, has the authority to unilaterally issue orders and directives. We can only do so as part of the Board Meeting Process.

“Therefore, it is wrong for you to unilaterally countermand Chairman WPG’s e-mail bringing the Wola matter to WPG board. If we feel strongly about it and disagree, the WPG boardroom is the time and place to put those arguments forward. WPG employed all senior management, Wola is one of them. And, under the O & M (Operation and Management) Agreement, WPG has overall supervisory responsibilities for Eko.

“The moment we undermine constituted authority we also in the process create room for our own authority to be undermined. Very serious allegations have been made against Wola, as a WPG employee it now becomes a WPG matter.

“And Dere (Otubu) you cannot openly and brazenly disrespect our holding company chairman and expect people to respect your chairmanship of Eko. Given that you didn’t consult with or include your colleagues in your persona feud against Mr. Etomi, you are equally culpable of the acts you accuse him of.

“Like Mr. Etomi and myself, you are also a minority shareholder, yet you acted and wrote in your email as the sole proprietor of the business, so what’s good for one is good for all.

“You also have to disqualify yourself as well because it is clear that you are more interested in the accused Wola, or in the matter, than meets the eye. Moreover Mr. Etomi stated in one of his mails that you appealed to him to kill the matter. That alone stops you from any role in the investigation.

“As a result of your alleged interference and approach to Etomi you have exposed yourself to allegations of unprofessionalism and inappropriate behaviour as a non-executive chairman. I therefore implore you Dere (Otubu), for the sake of safeguarding your credibility as a non-executive chairman and to preserve our institutions, that you please urgently recall your e-mails and recuse yourself from the matter”.

Ani stated that EKEDP directors had been inundated with anonymous messages from whistleblowers calling out the company on the ghost workforce scandal, with the general staff of the company also keenly following the ugly development.

“Everything we do is being watched by over 5,000 staff, who have seen a lot of very poor governance from their leaders (all of us), over the past decade. Morale is low. Theft is high. Resentment is even higher now!

“For once, please let us do things the right way, and at least come out of this with a little respect in front of all our staff and our stakeholders, even if we cannot recover our money, which we should!

“I believe Wola’s recall is the right thing to do in a matter of the gravity. Her subordinates will need to be interviewed and some of them taken on record. Her presence will intimidate them and she can interfere with the investigation process. It is the norm (standard practice) everywhere in the world where there is serious allegations of malfeasance or misconduct or misdemeanour, that such persons steps aside for thorough investigations to be carried out.

“I am shocked that anyone of us will try to interfere in this matter, considering the potential consequences of the allegations. The real issue is how much more of these acts have gone undetected. How many ghost workers do we have in our over 5,000 staff and who are their sponsors or fellow conspirators,” Ani stated.

According to Ani, what should concern the directors as investors should be stopping the rots in the company rather than bickering over a petty show of power – Eko vs WPG, while investors are losing money.

“The far-reaching consequences of Chairman D’s (Otubu) countermand of George’s (Etomi) letter, I believe wasn’t properly thought through. The sooner we retrace and harmonize positions, the better for us all. My view is that the WPG letter should remain and NOT be withdrawn since it’s her staff that is being called to question.

“A WPG committee should immediately be set up to investigate the allegations whilst Wola remains recalled until conclusion of investigations. Lastly Unity and Integrity should be our guiding principle in these very trying times,” Ani stated.

Rancour over investigation committee

Board members also felt dissatisfied with the way Otubu carried on with the constitution of a “Human Resources Investigation Committee”, raising objections to the terms of references, which were allegedly drawn up unilaterally by Otubu.

In response to a document circulated by Otubu titled, “Terms of Reference for Investigation Committee,” a board member and Chairman, Legal, Corporate Governance and Regulatory Compliance Committee, Babor Egeregor, objected to the terms, accusing Otubu, like others, of usurping the authority of the board and acting as an executive chairman.

Egeregor wrote: “Dr. (Dr. Tunji Olowolafe), please, deliberating on this extraneous Terms of Reference as singularly and surreptitiously introduced by Mr. Otubu, who openly admitted to being conflicted will be tantamount to deliberating on falsehood and illegality.

“As Chairman, Legal, Corporate Governance and Regulatory Compliance Committee, I am obligated not just to my shareholders, but also to the company (partly Federal Government owned) and my God, to stand on the side of truth at all times.

“We must be governed by the resolutions of the board, which is the highest decision making body of the company. Mr. Otubu is acting as an executive chairman, which he is not and definitely not an emperor as he is attempting to be.

“When we do things like this then we are saying we have thrown caution, corporate and good governance out of the window. When we get to that meeting, I won’t be a part of this fake and fabricated terms of reference”.

Egeregor, a life coach who specialises in leadership coaching and values reorientation, did not let the matter rest. He followed up with another lengthy response to board members on reasons for his objection to the terms of reference while advocating for the board to operate within the guidelines of the decisions reached at WPG’s board meeting.

Egeregor wrote: “Dr (Dr Tunji Olowolafe, Chairman, Investigation Committee). I feel I should urgently raise my objections on the email you sent to us which had an email trail from Mr. Dere Otubu highlighting what he (Otubu) referred as “Terms of Reference”.

“I actually wanted to await the commencement of the meeting tomorrow before raising my concerns; but thought against that position as this pertains to falsehood and outright miscommunication of what we discussed at the board meeting, hence, this mail.

“It might interest you to know that this supposed Terms of Reference emanating from Mr. Otubu is at best his sole idea and completely at variance with the board resolution asking us to investigate the CLO and the allegations of ghost workers as raised by the MD.

“I am therefore at a loss to Mr. Otubu’s reference to investigation of any other parties outside of the board resolution. Also recall, that Mr. Otubu had earlier made moves to kill/cover up this matter by reaching out to George Etomi as captured in Mr. Etomi’s mail to us all. I also recall that Mr. Otubu confirmed at the last board meeting that he was conflicted and me and your good self vehemently denied being conflicted in any way. Hence, the committee cannot in all good conscience accept a term of reference solely crafted by him from whatever source that didn’t emanate from our board meeting.

“At best, other parties can be invited to testify if and when the need arises. These extraneous allegations against persons not discussed nor named in our very detailed and extended meeting now being introduced into this otherwise simple matter is at best kicking the can down the road.

“Ultimately the truth will prevail. Please kindly consider my concerns and take appropriate measures to allow us abide by the board resolution on this subject matter”.

Olowolafe carefully responded: “Dear Babor (Egeregor), I am sure there is a misunderstanding. I sent to all members of HR committee a memo sent to me by Chairman Eko disco. When we meet tomorrow, we will deliberate on how we intend to handle the assignment from the board. I am not in a position to comment further”.

The intrigues around Sanda’s recall

With tempers high at the board level, the uncompromising stand of Managing Director of EKEDP, Dr. Tinuade Sanda, placed her in the battleground. Otubu allegedly worked to send Sanda back to WPG because of her insistence on due process.

Taking advantage of escalating media reportage of the scandalous issues emanating from the board crisis as well as agitations from staff union on the need to the right part in resolving the controversial issues of corruption, in January, Otubu warned Dr. Sanda of his displeasure at her inability to manage these developments.

In a document, Otubu expressed worries about the crisis coming to limelight and its consequences, calling on her to put a stop to it.

Otubu wrote: “Recall that we have been under unprecedented assault from whistle blowers, the union and the press since the matter (ghost workforce) came up. You are kindly instructed to take action and protect the integrity and image of the company, the directors, shareholders and all stakeholders from such attacks.

“Kindly show leadership and competence and treat this matter as extremely important and urgent. The board will take all necessary action to protect the company if management fails to do its job”.

Dr. Sanda, with an outline of a preferred course of actions based on the company’s rules and regulations, wrote: “As the MD, I have at all times taken steps to ensure the protection of the company’s integrity and brand, which was why, I initiated the ghost workers queries in the first place after I was alerted by a whistle blower within the company and did some investigations:

“(A) On 27th Nov, when the email from a “Third Eye” was sent to the board, I immediately forwarded the email to JP Attueyi to trace it and unravel the source. Unfortunately, the email was traced to an IP address in US (USA).

“(B) On Friday, 12th, when another email was received from a whistle blower claiming himself/herself to be a staff, I requested JP to do a similar search, and he has now requested the originating email which I will forward to him shortly.

“(C) I discreetly and carefully managed the Vice Chairman of NERC when he reached out on the matter to avoid any outburst or unwanted action from NERC. (D) On 10th Jan, when received the letter from NUEE, I immediately forwarded it to the board and sought guidance on what response to provide or how to deal with the matter, and I am yet to get guidance in this regard”.

Dr. Sanda outlined that she had internally managed several staff who have come into her office at different times requesting updates and justice on the matter without escalating this to the board as her automatic reflex instincts was always to defend and protect the company.

“There can be no doubt whatsoever of my understanding of the MD’s role and my consistent defense of the company at all times, whether in cases such as the present matter or in reaction to NERC or any other party. I always protect the integrity and image of the company at all times and continue to do so unflinchingly. However, it is clear that the staff are anxious to know how the matter will be investigated and decided. This has been their clamour since this matter was escalated to me in November 2023.

“There is a feeling of resentment amongst staff at the way the company handled previous instance of job abandonment for relatively small amounts, yet here, a senior officer has been accused on a similar issue, and for much larger sums of money, yet no visible actions. There is a strong and growing perception of injustice and double standards”, she wrote.

On how to protect the integrity and image of the company, the directors, shareholders, and others from the brewing public attacks, Sanda recommended that the relevant provisions of the company’s rules and regulations be applied.

She said: “My recommendation to ‘protect the Company from such attacks’ would be that Chapter 10 of the Company’s Conditions of Service (CoS) should be applied. Please note that Paragraph 10, page 40 (new CoS) and page 38 (old CoS) state that an employee may be interdicted from his/her duty if he is suspected to have committed an offence which under this chapter attracts dismissal as the penalty, provided that disciplinary proceedings have been or are being instituted against him.

“This would send a clear message to all staff and external observers that the company does not have double standards, that the same process that has been applied to junior staff in the past is being applied today to senior staff, etc.

“This will go a long way to assuage and pacify feelings which will give the time needed for the HR Committee to complete their investigation and submit their report to the board.

“You would agree with me, Sir, that this is not an operational matter, hence, authority on matters such as this clearly lies with the board. Therefore, I kindly await your further directives, sir(s)”.

Misdirection of energy

Many board members were worried about seeming misdirection and openly raised concerns. In one of such relating to the way and manner Otubu continued to run the company, especially fixing board meeting of EKEDP where the decision to redeploy Dr. Sanda to WPG, Ani listed a lot of concerns on the probity of recent actions.

Ani wrote: “I was surprised and appalled to wake up this morning to see the below mail calling an emergency Board meeting to deliberate on the special HR investigation committee’s report, for the following reasons:-

“Our Committee are yet to meet and review a report which I believe is a draft only submitted in the last day or so, how can we call a board meeting to deliberate on a report which is yet to be finalized and submitted? Except if the outcome has already been decided and these meetings are all only a smokescreen? Is this the message we really want to send out to the many interested observers of this matter sir?

“The person at the center of the allegations being investigated has recused herself from the company’s affairs, in area of invoking the Company’s CoS disciplinary measures, interdictment, Etc. In this context, her recuse from the company’s affairs should be absolute, so how can you now copy this person openly in a Board Meeting to discuss the allegations against her?

“I think the correct protocol, which we have followed as long as I have been a Director, is that we copy the DG of BPE, I do not recall multiple persons at BPE being copied into any previous calls for meetings or Notices, etc. Why are we now deviating from this protocol?

“I thought there are rules governing how to call meetings, even emergency meetings, certain time needs to be given, Etc. Why are we now waiving our own constituted rules? The above are formal thoughts occurring to me.

“In addition, on a practice level, how do you think it looks to the outside word, that the HR Meeting to review the 1st draft of their investigation report is called for 2pm today, then at midnight last night, an e-mail goes out can go for an emergency board meeting to review the committee’s report at 3 pm today? Even to the most disinterested observer, don’t you think we are sending a clear signal that this whole process is contrived, that the desired outcome has already been decided. And this after so many warning signals from the NLC, from NERC, Etc . . .

“Please sir, recall the call for an emergency board meeting, allow the committee to do their work and submit their report to the board, circulate the report to the board members, then call for the board meeting allowing sufficient time for the report to be digested. At least let us pretend that we are observing minimum due process and governance protocols

“Lastly, please recall my earlier mail where I cautioned against actions which may damage our company, individual shareholders will take steps to safeguard their investments”.

With the lingering crisis snowballing into increasing poor performance at the disco, stakeholders said the matter might force the federal government to intervene to protect its significant 40 per cent equity stake and the general interest of the Nigerian public.

 

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Economy

Ten African countries with the most affordable internet rates

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Ten African countries with the most affordable internet rates

Internet connectivity is one of the most important drivers of economic growth. However, because of their economic status, it is expensive for many Africans.

According to experts, Africa needs to make internet access cheap and affordable for its citizens. According to research by Cable.co.uk, here is a list of African countries with the most inexpensive internet.

Malawi
The internet in Malawi is the cheapest in Sub-Saharan Africa. One gigabyte of data costs $0.38, which is about 400 in the Malawian currency. Interestingly, internet prices in Malawi used to be as expensive as $27.41 per gigabyte, which was a very high percentage of the citizen’s income.

Nigeria
Nigeria’s internet prices are the second cheapest in sub-Saharan Africa. One gigabyte of data costs $0.39, which is about N300, putting the country at 31st globally for the cheapest mobile data. However, these prices may differ according to the mobile provider and data plan.

Ghana
Ghana is third on the list, and a gigabyte of data costs about $0.40, which is about 4.60 Ghana Cedis.

Somalia
Somalia’s internet costs about $0.50, which is also the currency used in the country. However, some plans may fall as low as $0.19. Somalia has a very competitive telecommunication market, with several providers offering various data plans and rates. This competition helps to keep prices low for consumers. Sometimes, the most expensive data plans can get as high as $1.67 per gigabyte.

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Internet in DRC costs about $0.52 per gigabyte, with the cheapest being $0.36. DRC has many options for fixed internet plans, even though mobile data is more prevalent.

Rwanda
Rwanda’s internet costs $0.55 per gigabyte, which is 666.67 in the country’s currency. According to VisitRwanda, major cities in Rwanda have high-speed 4G LTE wireless broadband. WiFi networks are also available in high-end places like hotels. In recent years, the Rwandan government has invested heavily in building its internet infrastructure. This has led to a significant increase in internet penetration in the country.

Kenya
Internet in Kenya costs about $0.59 per gigabyte, equivalent to 86.11 KES. Kenya’s internet penetration is about 32.7 percent. Mobile phone data is more prominent as mobile network operators (MNOs) have extensive coverage nationwide.

Mauritius
Internet in Mauritius costs $0.67. Mauritius boasts of a high internet penetration rate, which data puts at 75.76 percent, with many homes enjoying internet access. Mauritius has invested in building a robust internet infrastructure, including two undersea cables for international internet capacity and plans for two more.

Sierra Leone
One gigabyte of data costs $0.67. However, depending on the plan, prices can range from as low as $0.64 to as high as $1.19 per gigabyte. Sierra Leone’s internet access is still developing, so it is only readily available in the capital city. It is also slower than the global average.

Congo
In Congo Brazzaville, one gigabyte of internet costs $0.68. It may sometimes move to $1 and even $5 at austere times. The internet here is slower than globally acceptable. Also, the lack of developed infrastructure, especially fibre optic cable networks, hinders wider internet access.

Six of the top 50 cheapest internet-cost countries in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa. Africa also has five of the ten most expensive countries in the world, with Zimbabwe being the most expensive on the continent and globally at $43.75. Saint Helena is next at $40.13, South Sudan is next at $23.70, the Central African Republic is next at $10.90, and Zambia is last at $8.01.

According to experts, internet usage has increased on the continent because of the adoption of smartphones, improved network infrastructure (4G and 5G), affordable data plans, the availability of mobile-friendly content, the popularity of social media and apps, and overall economic development in various regions.

 

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