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Police slam ₦2.5bn fraud charges against Access Bank CEO, three others




The Police Special Fraud Unit in Lagos has charged the managing director and chief executive officer of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, with 21 counts of conspiracy and stealing before an Ogun State High Court.

Wigwe, Alawode Oluseye, Bayo Adesina, and Access Bank Plc are accused of conspiring and stealing 23,754.413 metric tonnes of steel billets valued at ₦2.5 billion belonging to BMCE Bank International Plc.

The alleged crime took place in June 2017 at the premises of Metal Africa Steel Products Limited along Sagamu/Ikorodu road, Ewe Jagun, in Ogun State, the police said.

According to the police, the defendants falsely presented themselves as the owners and sold the steel billets to Metal Africa Steel Products Limited without the authorisation of the actual owner.

The police said the defendants forged the Bill of Ladings number: MJINLOS150007’1A’; MJINLOS150007 ‘1B’; MJINLOS150007 ‘1C’; MJINLOS150007 ‘2A’; MJINLOS150007’2B’; MJINLOS150007 ‘2C’; MJINLOS150007 ‘2C’; MJINLOS150007 ‘2D’; MJINLOS150007 ‘2E’; MJINLOS150007 ‘2F’; MJINLOS150007 ‘2G’; MJINLOS150007

‘2H’; MJINLOS150007 ‘2I’; MJINLOS150007 ‘2J’; MJINLOS150007 ‘2k’; MJINLOS150007’2L’ and
MJINLOS150007’2M’, which they claimed were issued on January 9, 2016.

The offences according to the police are contrary to and punishable under Sections 518(6), 434, 383(1)(f) and 390(9), 516 and 464 and 467 of the criminal Code of Ogun State of Nigeria, 2006.

The offences also contravened Section 1(1)(a) and 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related offences Act No. 14 of 2006.

During their arraignment, only Mr Oluseye was present in court. He pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

Edoka Onyeke, counsel to the defendants, however, informed the court that his clients were exploring an out-of-court settlement with the complainant.

He requested for a short adjournment.

N.I Agbelu, the judge adjourned till April 4 for report of the settlement.

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Crisis rocks AEDC over equity share holding as foreign investor alleges agreement terms violation



CEC Africa Investment Limited, one of the foreign investors in the nation’s power sector has alleged that its massive investment in Nigeria’s power sector faces a high risk.

It also explained that the emerging risk followed the alleged hijack by a powerful cabal of KANN Utility Company Limited, a consortium where it has majority shares.

TIMELY POST gathered that KANN even brought the 60 percent of equity of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC.

Further, it was gathered that KANN is a consortium owned between CEC Africa Investment Limited and Xerxes Global Investments Limited that bought the Abuja electricity company.

But an attempt by the CEC Africa Investment Limited to enforce terms of agreement with its Nigerian partner, Xerxes Global Investments Limited, the two companies that own KANN consortium, and safeguard its investment is currently the subject of what stakeholders have described as “unnecessary and embarrassing litigation” at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The Case reference number FHC/Abuja/CS/684/2018 explains that between 2012 and 2013, KANN’s two shareholders viz CEC Africa Investments Limited, which has over 60 years history of power operations across several southern African countries and Xerxes Global Investments Limited agreed to jointly bid for the purchase of 60% equity stake in AEDC valued at $164 million.

The two companies agreed that CECA and Xerxes would own and hold 50% each of the shares of KANN and that each of the two parties would make equal financial contribution towards the acquisition amount and costs with regard to the purchase of 60% shares of AEDC.

The two companies also agreed to fund 25 percent of the AEDC equity share ($41 million) by cash contributions in their 50%/50% shareholding interest and KANN would borrow the remaining 75% of the acquisition costs of $123 million from a third party lender, the United Bank for Africa (UBA.

However, Xerxes could not raise its equity contribution when the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) demanded for the initial 25% ($41 million) upfront payment; CECA alone raised initial 25% equity payment fully in March 2013.

It was also gathered that Xerxes could not also guarantee the 75% balance of loan repayment at the UBA, thus CECA provided a mandatory Debt Service Reserve Account of $40 million as a security cover for the UBA loan thereby bringing CECA’s total, both to BPE and loan repayment to $81million.

Notably, however, to secure this repayment, XerXes pledged 25% out of its 50% shareholding in KANN to CECA thus making the later (CECA) becoming 75% equity owner of KANN in a written agreement, according to the arguments contained in the the court case.

But now, CECA, in its claim to the court with documentary evidences, is alleging that apart from the fact that Xerxes has failed to honour its agreements with CECA on equity ownership of KANN on 75% and 25% basis, Xerxes is systematically sidelining CECA, plotting takeover of AEDC by trying to change key management positions and leave CECA, the biggest investor in denial.

The parties went for arbitration of the matter at the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and CECA on October 28, 2016 won the case after which CECA took a step further by going to the Federal High Court, Abuja, Nigeria, where the LCIA judgement was adopted as its judgment. Xerxes however appealed the judgement

On account of this case, it has become difficult for KANN to hold statutory meetings of the consortium as every effort to convene general meeting is allegedly being frustrated by Xerxes.

Besides, sources told our correspondent that CECA has been recently harassed by the Department of State Security but the spy agency didn’t find any substance in the issues raised against the company.

Industry players have asking why a co-investor (CECA) is left to bear the responsibility of such a massive transaction but it is not willing to accept terms of agreement it entered into with its partner because the local partners have influence in government.

“We have been following the case. It is rather very unfortunate because with this kind of case, no serious investor wants to bring his or her hard-earned money here to come and invest”, said a chief executive a leading DISCO who pleaded anonymity.

He added that, “this is economic sabotage against what President Buhari told us. We are hoping that the court will give justice to the right company because this is a bad precedence in a critical sector such as power”.

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Senate issues 7-day ultimatum to CBN, FIRS, others to declare statement of accounts



Senate on Wednesday issued 7-day ultimatum to the Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Federal Airport Authority, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation presently defaulting to submit their statements of income and expenditure accounts spanning from 2017- 2019 to do so.

It also urged the defaulting agencies to submit their lingering responses on issues raised about the belated statement of accounts as contained in their earlier exchanged correspondences.

Other agencies are the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Niger Delta Development Commission, Nigerian Investment Promotion Council, Federal Airport Authority and National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure.

Also defaulting are, Nigeria Football Federation, Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, National Space Research and Development Agency, Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and Industrial Training Fund.

Those invited also include, Presidential Amnesty Program, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Petroleum Equalization Fund Management Board, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, Nigeria Railway Corporation and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency.

The Senate also invited Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Nigeria Insurance Trust Fund and National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.

This development followed the Public Account Committee (PAC) of the Senate’s press briefing in National Assembly wherein it disclosed that some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government, have not disclosed their accounts for years, as stipulated by law.

Senator Matthew Urhoghide, Chairman of the committee, told Journalist that the PAC had issued correspondences to the affected agencies to submit statement of accounts, to enable the committee carry out “special oversight functions”.

The committee said it has the backing of sections 85, 88 and 89 of the 1999 constitution of federal republic of Nigeria and Order 97(5) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended.

Despite several notices for agencies to submit their statement of accounts, the committee said many of the MDAs have refused to comply.

“In the light of this, all the defaulting agencies are by this notice, given the last opportunity to make submissions before their invitation to the scheduled public hearing”, Senator Urhoghide said.

“The committee therefore, gave 7-day ultimatum to the defaulting agencies, to make submissions “on their responses to the issues raised by the committee in its various correspondences regarding their income and expenditure operations from 2017-2019”.

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Bill to regulate Social Media passes second reading



A bill to regulate the use of Social Media as well as curb fake news on the internet has passed the second reading at the Senate.

The bill, ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019,’ sponsored by Mohammed Musa was introduced in the Senate two weeks ago.

This comes a few years after a similar anti-social media bill introduced in the eight Senate, sparked outrage across the country.

The second stage of the new bill was passed after lawmakers debated details of the bill during plenary.

Leading the debate, Musa said the bill does not intend to gag the media but to check the spread of false information on the internet.

He also prescribed up to N300,000 fine for an individual if found guilty; and up to N10 million for corporate organisations.

While three lawmakers supported the bill, Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu East) opposed the passage of the bill.

He said the bill was completely unnecessary given the provisions of the Cyber Crimes Act.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, then put the debate to a voice vote. Majority of the senators supported it.

Lawan referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. The committee was asked to report back after four weeks.

As part of its work, the committee is expected to conduct a public hearing on the bill.

Details later…

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