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INVESTIGATION

NBET MD, Marilyn Amobi allegedly squanders billions, harasses staff with police

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The managing director/chief executive officer of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc., Dr Marilyn Amobi is in the news again for the wrong reasons, The Witness learnt.

She has been accused of flagrant disobedience to extant circulars and the desperation to allegedly amass wealth illegally thereby leading to her deployment of armed policemen with AK47 to harass and humiliate any staff who refuses to cooperate on her alleged illicit deals.

A staff who spoke on condition of anonymity confided in The Witness that some staff have petitioned the Inspector General of Police on the harassment being suffered from armed policemen stationed on the floors of the Bank of Industry building occupied by NBET at the Central Business Area, Abuja each working day. The policemen, we learnt, are being funded by NBET with taxpayers’ money.

Dr. Amobi, The Witness gathered was said to have bought cars worth over N400million in the last one year without commensurate performance in collections from Electricity Distribution Companies, otherwise called DISCOS. Our source disclosed that all the cars and office relocation expenses in the 2017 budget worth over one billion naira were allegedly procured using over-invoicing, contract splitting to avoid being queried by either the Federal Executive Council or ministerial approval threshold as virtually those procurements were wasteful spending of public funds. More worrisome is the shocking revelation from Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission that the commission was prudent by transferring the vehicle used by the vice chairman of the commission to the newly appointed chairman of NERC so as to minimise wasteful spending of public funds.

The Witness authoritatively gathered that both the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation have swung into action aimed at unraveling the alleged massive corruption being perpetrated in Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc by its boss and her cohorts. A whopping sum of N102million contained in the 2018 budget awaiting assent under the heading of library is currently being sponsored by a foreign donor in addition to funding for provision of legal advisory services among others, these amounts of money are still budgeted for by NBET in the 2018 fiscal year. Investors and other stakeholders are wondering why Dr Marilyn Amobi appears untouchable and why pre/post consideration of NBET budget by the National Assembly are not subjected to scrutiny given all the atrocities she has perpetrated since her assumption of office.

However, Dr Amobi is not new to scandals. A training institute in Denmark attended by both staff and non-staff of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) has affiliate with the firm incorporated in Nigeria by Dr Marilyn Amobi.

Several hundred millions of Naira from capital budget and receipts from distribution companies are being used to fund all the illegal foreign training, The Witness learnt. Our source further divulged that Dr. Amobi is able to perpetrate the fraud using her company incorporated as ESL Economics and Management Associates Ltd with RC NO- 1025108.

The registered address of the company is Plot 604, Hunkuyi Close, Area 11, Garki, Abuja and has the first directors as Dr Marilyn Chikaodili Nwanneka Amobi and Dr Ifeoma Edna Amobi holding 80% and 20% share respectively. A certificate number 751030 was issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission for increase in the company share from 1 million to 20 million and the address was changed to 46, Lobito Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja.

Upon the appointment of Dr Marilyn as NBET’s MD/CEO, The Witness gathered that the NBET Chief resigned from being member of the board of directors but retained her shareholding of 80% in the company till date. Professor Erik Reimer Larsen who was responsible for the academic training programme in Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University Denmark regarding professional training programme is a partner in ESL Economics and Management Associates Ltd.

Another scandal was loading when on 28th of November 2017, a whopping N65 Million from public funds was alleged to have been spent by the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) under her for an 11-day trip to Gainesville, Florida, despite federal government’s restriction on foreign travels and trainings abroad.

A circular conveying the message, titled ‘Restrictions on Foreign Trainings and International Travels by Public Servants,’ was issued from the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to all ministries, departments and agencies of the federal government in 2015, placing an embargo on foreign travels and international trainings.

“Public servants invited for foreign trainings/study tour, conferences by any organisation, government or other bilateral/multilateral organisation will be allowed to travel provided that no travel cost, estacode application or any other cost on government is involved,” the circular stated.

In defiance of the federal government’s rule, Dr Amobi had given a directive to spend $96,350 USD of public funds for participation at the 43rd International training programme on the utility regulation and strategy held in January 15-26 2018 in Gainsville, Florida, USA, by members of the National Assembly committees on power.

A whistleblower had alleged that the National Assembly members did not attend the event, describing it as a shocking waste of tax payers’ money.

The National Assembly members were Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, (PDP Abia), Senator Adamu Aliero, (APC Kebbi), Senator Lanre Tejuosho, (APC Ogun), Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, (PDP Abia), Hon. Daniel Asuquo, (PDP Cross River) Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo, (APC Bauchi).

Independent investigation revealed that an additional $7,200  was charged by the organizers of the training for each participant, revealing an additional N15 million tab by the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc.

More revelations show that Dr Marilyn has unplucked wings because of her rooted relationship in the Ministry Of Power, Finance, National Assembly and the Presidency that she can do and undo. Our undercover journalist had earlier reported how N650million not included in the 2017 budget proposal submitted by Mr President to the national assembly found its way into 2017 appropriation tagged as office relocation wherein the current office being used by NBET is befitting enough.

The approved N650million was forcefully cash backed and has been syphoned. Reports had it also on how Dr Marilyn used the national assembly through house committee on power to publish public hearing notice on the dailies against her employer, disagreement erupted when the document given to Dr Marilyn for publication on Calabar PRG was tampered with before been published; the said public hearing was eventually swept under the carpet because of the betrayal of NBET boss. A clerk with the knowledge of the shoddy dealing informed us on the condition of anonymous that there was no evidence of neither approval nor payment for the publication of the public hearing notice.

Several reports on social media shows unethical dealings of NBET boss since her assumption of office till date and nothing was done to investigate those deals by the anti-graft agencies of the federal government due fear.

In line with The Witness investigative journalism practice, our reporter contacted Dr. Amobi for her angle to the allegations, but there was no response as at press time.

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INVESTIGATION

Ex-staffers battle Diamond Bank over unpaid severance fee

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We are not owing them  – Diamond Bank

 

Diamond Bank Plc. led by Uzoma Dozie is now at war with the 370 workers that were sacked by the bank with no severance entitlements.

This newspaper learnt that the management of Diamond Bank on 27th of May 2016 at about 5:30am sent an electronic mail to 370 of their member staff to notify them of termination of their appointment, without stating any objective reason. Most of the workers who didn’t receive the termination mail before leaving home to work were caught off guard as they couldn’t access their various work stations and were only able to find out about the termination of their appointment after renting their friend’s phone.

We gathered that the workers took their case to the National Assembly Committee on Public Petitions and the bank’s MD/CEO, Uzoma Dozie was summoned to appear before the committee on January 18th, 2018. Instead of showing up, he sent the Head Human Capital Management of the bank, Mr. Gabriel Nwokeafor to represent him.

Sources said that Mr. Gabriel Nwokeafor told the House Committee that the bank was ready to settle the matter and a meeting was held to that effect at Reiz Hotel, Abuja on January 19th, 2018 between Diamond Bank, its lawyer and seven representatives of the sacked workers alongside their lawyer and the bank agreed to pay the severance/redundancy benefits as computed but on the condition that the loans collected by the ex-workers will be deducted and the balance paid to them.

Be that as it may, we were told that the bank had reneged on that agreement. Besides, Mr. Gabriel on 28th March, 2018 refused to appear before the House Committee instead he sent two lawyers who refuted the agreements he made with the ex-workers and their lawyer on January 19th, 2018 on the ground that the case was still in Court and the sacked workers were asked to withdraw their case from the court.

The ex-workers not fully aware of the implication of their next action, subsequently withdrew the case from Court.

Sources added that Mr. Gabriel on April 24th, 2018 said that he cannot deny knowledge of the agreement he signed with the ex-workers and their lawyer, and the withdrawal of the case in court that there is no way the decision he reached with the sacked workers could be wholly binding as the CEO/MD of the bank was not present at the time. He added that he did not know that the entire decisions at the meeting was been recorded.

But in a statement made available to THE WITNESS on Thursday July 19, 2018, Diamond Bank however denied the allegations.

The statement reads in part “At Diamond Bank, we understand the value of strong governance principles that protect and places a premium on the welfare of our people.”

“The exit of the staff was in line with best practice and complied to all regulations.”

“Out of the 370 persons who left the employment of our bank, 274 of them voluntarily resigned their appointments and several of them have requested and have been issued with favourable references.”

“They were paid all their terminal benefits as stipulated under their contracts of employment.”

“Presently, we are not indebted to any of them. However, a number of them are indebted to the Bank over loan facilities they obtained and failed to repay.”

“We wish to state that this issue has been reported and deliberated upon by the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as Federal Legislative bodies.” The lender stressed.

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INVESTIGATION

Fresh crisis hits Wema Bank

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Ademola Adebise, Managing Director, Wema Bank Plc.

 

One of the third tier financial institutions in Nigeria, Wema Bank Plc is in crisis. This newspaper gathered that the new Managing Director, Ademola Adebise has clampdown on ex-Managing Director, Olusegun Oloketuyi’s loyalist.

Insiders at the bank squealed to us that the new MD is plotting to remove some top bank employees loyal to the former MD and install his own loyalists in their place.

We were told that Ademola Adebise who came to power few weeks ago has already sacked five managers loyal to Olusegun Oloketuyi.

Our sources told us that the new MD is bent on flushing out all those who came from Skye Bank with the former MD.

Source: Top Celebrities

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INVESTIGATION

EFCC to probe Delta Gov. Okowa’s N736m substandard road project

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…..As Community Youths Protest Low Standard Job

 


 

Information reaching The Witness has revealed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), are set to take over the lingering case of the ongoing substandard road contract awarded to PORTPLUS limited, a marine service company, at the sum of N736, 404, 555.60 by the Delta State government.

It would be recalled that in March, 2017, Delta state governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa, had awarded to Portplus Limited, the contract to construct a three kilometers concrete pavement road with both sides drainages at Ikpide-Irri, a riverine community, Isoko South local government area of Delta state.

The substandard collapsed culvert.

The contract which is said to be a ‘kola-nut’ from the governor to the chairman of Portplus Limited, Mr. Immanuel Omoefe, an indigene of the community is already generating controversy following the substandard work and usage of low quality materials by the contractor, resulting to protest by the locals.

Speaking with our reporter, an EFCC official who does not want his name mentioned confided that, “Please don’t quote me, but I can tell you that the commission has been following stories from online media concerning the contract. We saw in the whole contract elements of fraud especially in the area of execution. We are very must interested in the issue”

One of the culverts being constructed with 10mm rods as against the specified 16mm on the BOQ

According to pur EFCC source, “As we talk, we are talking with the lawyer to the concerned indigenes of the community who petitioned governor Ifeanyi Okowa on the substandard work and he is cooperating with us.

“Once we receive the petitions been expected, our Benin city office in Edo state will swing into action and all names that will be mentioned especially the contractor would be invited for questioning. A colleague of mine in the ICPC told me too they are interested and will also step into the matter.”, Our EFCC source disclosed.

The concerned indigenes of the community through a petition addressed to governor Okowa last week and signed by their counsel, Mr. Chuks. F. Ebu, had raised the alarm of substandard job by the contractor saying that instead of construction of both sides drainages, using of rods and other materials specified in the Bill Of Quantity, (BOQ), the contractor went for substandard materials.

The 10mm used to construct one of the culverts.

The petition which was made available to tbis medium, copied the Commissioner of Police, state commissioner for works, member representing constituency 1 in the state house of Assembly, Orezi Esievo, State Director, SSS, Chairman, Isoko South local government area, all branch chairmen of Ikpide-Irri unions, President General, Isoko Development Union, (IDU) and others.

According to the petition with the title “Re:Construction Of Ikpide-Irri Township Roads: Protest Against The Substandard Job And Call For Strict Adherence To The Bill Of Quantity.”, failure by the contractor to adhere strictly to the Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation, ( BEME), the BOQ and other contract papers, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies would be invited into the contract.

“That the culverts should be reconstructed because the converts construction was not met as rods used was 10mm at interval of 300mm instead of 16mm at interval of 150mm spacing specified in the drawings and the original Bill Of Quantity (BOQ) and concrete mixed was very poor. Also the size specified in the drawings was not professionally followed.”

Our correspondent reliably gathered that few days ago one of the controversial culverts carrying 10mm rods as against the specified 16mm collapsed during a visit by some persons from the Ministry of works.

Meanwhile, the community youths on Sunday staged a peaceful protest in the community and called on the contractor to as a matter of urgency and importance follow standards in the execution of the contract or be ready to face the music of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Speaking during the protest, the leader of the protest, an activist and indigene of the community who doubles as the President of Isoko Monitoring Group, (IMG), a Pan Isoko group known for championing of development in Isoko, Delta and beyond, Mr. Sebastine Agbefe, lamented the substandard work by Portplus limited and called on the contractor to immediately destroy and reconstruct all the culverts in the community that were done with 10mm instead of 16mm according to the BOQ.

“This is a fraud of the highest order, this is pure wickedness and we can no longer folds our arms and watch one man shortchange us because of his personal greed and selfishness. We are warning the contractor to destroy all the culverts done with 10mm and reconstruct same with 16mm according to the BOQ.

“The contractor should also make sure that both sides drainages are constructed on the road and must use standard materials specified on the BOQ. And again, Portplus must adhere strictly to the specifications on the BOQ and any attempt to compromise standards as far as this contract is concerned, Portplus will be made to face EFCC and ICPC.”, Mr. Agbefe stated.

The IMG president, however enjoined indigenes of the community, especially the youths not to take the laws into their hands even as he challenge all communities in Isoko nation to be involved in the monitoring of execution government projects in their various domains.

It was gathered that some of the youths and other indigenes who came out enmass were scared away from the protest by parents and relatives for fear of been victimized by power that be in the community that is already compromised by the contractor.

Our correspondent reliably learnt that video clips and photographs of the substandard work taken during the protest will be sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) as requested.

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