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INVESTIGATION

NDDC Boss, Nsima Ekere In N188m fraud scandal, EFCC petitioned

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*Ekere accused of defrauding Akwa Saving and Loans Limited
* Bank petitions EFCC, Demands Prosecution

Nsima Ekere, the managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is embroiled in another massive financial scandal in which a bank has dragged him to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, demanding a refund of N188 million and prosecution for financial misdeeds.

The alleged fraud dates back to when Nsima Ekere was deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State from May 2011 to October 2012 when he unceremoniously resigned to avoid impending impeachment. According to the bank, the former deputy governor illegally withdraw money from 9 bank accounts belonging to the state government and diverted them to an Ekere family company.

Ekere is also involved in a financial scandal in which a court froze all his accounts in Nigerian banks and ordered the forfeiture of his Ewet Housing property. The details of the case cast the picture of a troubling level of personal financial recklessness.

In a petition exclusively obtained by The Trent titled “PETITION ON FINANCIAL CRIMES AGAINST MR. NSIMA EKERE, MESSRS TECHSEL PRODUCTS LIMITED, MR. IDORENYIN UDO EKERE, DR. ANIEKAN UDO EKERE AND UTIBE IDORENYIN EKERE”, copies of which were sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and other security agencies, the petitioners describe Ekere’s actions as “unconscionable financial crimes” and accuse the NDDC boss of “unlawfully and fraudulently siphoning” the sum of N188 million from the Akwa Ibom State government account.

The petition is signed by Abasiama Idiong, the company secretary of Akwa Savings and Loans Limited, “a bank incorporated under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having its Head Office in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State”.

The bank has been in existence for 24 years and recently, the bank’s fortunes have been threatened due to the fraudulent activities of certain individuals which brought the bank to its knees, our investigations revealed.

“We hereby respectfully report to your office financial crimes committed by the above listed individuals (Nsima Udo Ekere, Idorenyin Udo Ekere, Dr. Aniekan Udo Ekere and Utibe Idorenyin Ekere), which has unlawfully deprived the Bank of the huge sum of N118 million Naira, illegally and fraudulently obtained from Akwa Ibom State Government accounts with the bank,” the petition read

In the facts of the matter, the petitioners went further to state, “Mr. Nsima Ekere, the present managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) between May, 2011 and 2012 served as the deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State.

“He used his office as deputy governor to defraud the state government of the sum of N118 million by unlawfully and illegally transferring monies standing to the credit of the state government from nine (9) separate accounts to a private company owned by his family members named TECHSEL PRODUCTS LIMITED,

“The fraud was committed when Mr. Nsima Ekere, without any authorisation or approval:

“(a)    Unlawfully closed the various Accounts of the State Government (particulars of which are supplied below) and transferred the credit balances therein to the private account of his family company (Techsel Products Limited held with Akwa Savings and Loans Limited with Account No: 0101-102-0013130.

“(b)   Unlawfully transferring the sum of 118 million from the State Government Account called Raffia City Account held with Akwa Savings and Loans Ltd to the account of the same private family company-Techsel Products Limited and withdrawing same for his personal use.

“In a detailed particulars of fraud, the petitioners listed the “unlawful and fraudulent transfers of 100 million Naira from 9 bank accounts of the Akwa Ibom State Government Accounts with Akwa Savings and Loans Ltd to Techsel Products Limited,” part of the petition stated.

The petitioners also maintained that there was a further “unlawful and fraudulent transfer of the sum of 18 million from the State Government Account (Raffia City Account) to Techsel Products Limited Account (0101-102-0013130). Both accounts are with Akwa Savings and Loans Limited.

The document also details that “the N100 million was withdrawn from Techsel Products Limited Account on July 23, 2013 with Voucher number 268 and went further to also state that “the N18 million was withdrawn from Techsel Products Limited Account on January 13, 2014 with Voucher number 127”.

“These facts” the petitioners stated “can be verified from Techsel Products Limited statement of Accounts with Akwa Savings and Loans Ltd.

Throwing more light on the company profile of Techsel, the petitioner stated that “Techsel Products Limited is a private company with Registration No. RC: 400093. It was incorporated on March 14, 2001 and is 100 percent owned by the Ekere family.  The other directors of the company are Idorenyin Udo Ekere, Dr. Aniekan Udo Ekere, and Utibe Idorenyin Ekere.

The prayers of the petitioners  are that: “ in the light of the foregoing detailed and easily verifiable facts backed by documentary evidence, and further to the avowed and acclaimed resolve of the present Government to fight corruption, we humbly but emphatically pray as follows:

That you use your good offices to cause immediate investigations into the allegations of financial fraud levelled against Mr. Nsima Ekere and his cohortsRecover the N118 million from Mr. Ekere and his cohorts Prosecute Mr. Nsima Ekere and all others found to have complicity in the said fraud”.

Since Ekere became the top boss at the Niger Delta Development Commission, he has sought to cast himself as a corruption fighter who was appointed to “clean out” the agency.

“The above allegations are weighty and call to question the character and integrity of Mr. Nsima Ekere to hold public office,” a former senator who is also a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who didn’t wish to be named, told our reporter in reaction to the exposure.

The former senator asked, “Is this man fit to hold public office? Is he not making a mockery of the Buhari led Administration determined efforts to fight corruption.”

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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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INVESTIGATION

How DMO DG, Oniha’s management style is killing Nigeria’s economy

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-As financial experts call for her sack

By Festus Onajite

Nigeria’s economy is heading for more tough times ahead going by current happenstances at the Debt Management Office, DMO, manned by Ms. Patience Oniha.

There have been red alerts pointing towards a major crisis in the Nigerian economy since Oniha took over about a year ago from Dr. Abraham Nwankwo as the director-general. And despite the several millions of naira allocated to the agency, DMO itself is presently a shadow of its old self due largely to the perceived incompetence of the current DG.

The major worry at the moment is that despite the rising debt profile of the nation, the federal government has been unable to develop a fresh debt management strategy, seven months after the expiration of the Debt Management Office’s (DMO) five-year Third Strategic Plan initiated by Oniha’s predecessor.

Investigations also revealed that DMO is bereft of its own internal working plan, which we learnt, is in the pipeline.

Nigeria’s total public debt increased by 4.52 per cent in the first three months of 2018, the DMO had revealed, adding that the country’s debt increased from N21.73 trillion in December 2017 to N22.71 trillion at the end of the first quarter of 2018.

Financial experts attribute the above trend to lack of administrative skills exhibited by Ms Patience Oniha in handling affairs at the DMO. It is further argued that if no drastic steps are taken by the federal government concerning the Debt Management Office, the Nigerian economy risks a further nosedive in a few months to come.

“She is an analogue administrator who cannot operate in the digital age of debt management,” a financial expert quipped recently. He called for the sack of the director-general to be replaced by a more competent and experienced hand to manage an agency as strategic as the DMO.

As it stands, the prospect of the debt portfolio has become higher as Nigeria has just signed an agreement with France for $475million loan facility for some projects in Lagos, Kano and Ogun States.

The Debt Management Agency is a very critical arm of the federal government as far as debt management is concerned. Section 6(c) of the DMO Establishment Act 2003 states that the agency must, “prepare and implement a plan for the efficient management of Nigerian’s external and domestic debt obligations at sustainable levels compatible with desired economic activities for growth and development; and participate in negotiations aimed at realising those objectives.”

Due to its very critical role in the economy, the Debt Management Office has always operated with a strategic plan since it was establishes on 4th October 2000 to centrally coordinate the management of Nigeria’s debt. Its last strategic plan that expired last December was the third since its establishment.

Though the director-general of DMO had said that Nigeria’s steadily rising debt profile was not a big issue, the International Monetary Fund has expressed deep concerns over Nigeria’s capacity to repay its rising debts. IMF officials recently warned the government that Nigeria has been sliding down towards debt trap.

At a press conference on the sidelines of the World Bank Group Spring Meetings in Washington DC, recently Mrs Catherine Pattillo, Assistant Director, Fiscal Affairs Department of IMF, described Nigeria’s debt to revenue ratio, which she put at 63 percent, as “extremely high.”

According to her, “Borrowing by countries can create benefits if used for investments of high returns. Our evidence suggests that’s not the case in some countries, especially in Nigeria. So rising debt can create the vulnerabilities.”

Chirstine Lagarde, the head of International Monetary Fund corroborated this last month while addressing financial leaders from some developing countries. She said that global debt had soared to 220 per cent of global output, a staggering level that did not bode well for member economies.

In most economy, the debt problem was casting a shadow over future growth prospects, she said.

All efforts to reach Ms. Oniha for her angle proved futile as her mobile number 0802..…….79 was not reachable as at press time.

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INVESTIGATION

Customer battles Diamond Bank over N1.5bn fraud

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Diamond Bank Plc may have to shell out the princely sum of N2.6 billion if it loses the suit brought against it by a limited liability company Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria Limited. The company which specializes in construction is suing the bank for allegedly mismanaging its accounts domiciled in the bank.
The statement of claim filed by B. A. M Ajibade (SAN) averred that the deponent had sometime in 2004 opened a main account with Diamond Bank to execute construction projects. Moreover, in the course of the normal relationship between bank and customer it was able to secure overdrafts, loans and bank guarantees.
According to a copy of the statement of claim obtained by this newspaper, trouble began when the bank allegedly began to overcharge the company’s main account with sundry levies including Commission on Turnover (COT), lending fees, bank guarantee fees, transfer fees and interest on loans in a manner contrary to the written agreements the company had earlier signed with the bank.
The statement claimed further that an audit of the company’s accounts revealed that it had been overcharged to the tune of N1.5 billion by Diamond Bank. It further claimed that Diamond Bank voluntarily admitted to having charged excessively to the tune of about N246 million.
The company further claimed that the uncertainty surrounding its accounts with Diamond Bank and the bank’s withdrawal of funds from its accounts through illicit charges caused cash flow problems and delays for the company and contributed to the company’s inability to execute some major projects, including the Akwa Ibom Airport, in a timely and efficient manner.
It is therefore claiming N564 million in damages for loss of profit, N1 billion in special damages for consequential loss, another 1 billion in general damages for breach of the banker/customer relationship, and an additional N100 million in legal costs.
The suit has been adjourned till 15th of October, 2018 for hearing.
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