MTN Nigeria Communications Plc on Saturday said that it was being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over listing of its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
A statement posted on the exchange web site signed by MTN Nigeria Communications, Company Secretary, Uto Ukpanah confirmed the investigation.
The statement said that the company received a letter on May 23, from EFCC requesting information and documentation related to the listing of our shares on the NSE.
“MTN Nigeria has not been accused of any wrong doing by the EFCC.
“We wish to reiterate that we received all regulatory approvals required to list our shares on the NSE, as publicly confirmed by NSE and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“As a law abiding and responsible corporate citizen, we are cooperating fully with the authorities.
“We are committed to good governance and to abiding by the extant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” said the statement.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that there have been reports of scarcity of the shares since after its listing, which resulted to alleged price manipulation.
Consequently, some minority shareholders had decried the inability of retail investors to have access to the shares since May 16 after the listing.
They accused capital market regulators of conniving with MTN Nigeria Communications to allegedly manipulate the performance of the share price at the exchange.
They said that the MTN Nigeria did not meet the free float of 20 per cent before listing.
Sunny Nwosu, Founder, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), in an interview with NAN described the listing as “a fraudulent game.”
“Our conclusion as shareholders is that they have come to play us a game which is not far from fraudulent game, the nominal value of MTN shares is not certain.
“These are areas I think SEC should ask NSE questions rather than the issue of gifts sharing at AGMS and ban of pre-AGM.
“We are not certain of MTN, up till now no prospective shareholder can tell you this is what MTN Nigeria stands for,” Nwosu said.
He said that the exchange had set a bad precedent in the market by allowing some companies to list without meeting the free float requirement thereby creating a bad image.
But the NSE recently said that the total number of MTN shares in the hands of over 700 Nigerians, who are not promoters, controlling interests, directors, that were unbundled upon listing was about 1.8 billion.
The pro-chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Wale Babalakin, has revealed the reasons behind the crisis brewing at the university.
He opened up in a letter to the House of Representatives Committee on Public Procurement.
The letter was a response to an invitation by the committee following a petition it received alleging that Mr Babalakin violated the Public Procurement Act 2007 by desiring to chair the tenders board of the University.
The petition had alleged that the Mr Babalakin-led Governing Council’s investigation of past and current management and governing council of the University for alleged breaches, including the violation of the nation’s procurement act, was driven by the pro-chancellor’s desire to chair the university’s tenders board.
￼The council is involved in a running disagreement with the University management and the leadership of the university’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The crisis followed the council’s decision to probe the university’s finances, the collapse of an uncompleted library and other alleged improprieties of the university’s vice-chancellor, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, his predecessor and other top officials of the institution.
The university’s chapter of ASUU is also at loggerheads with the council following queries issued to some lecturers. Earlier this month, ASUU accused Mr Babalakin of being dictatorial.
￼Mr Babalakin, however, denied acting outside the mandate of the Governing Council. He told PREMIUM TIMES that the actions of the council were legal.
In his letter dated May 17, addressed to the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Procurement, Oluwole Oke, Mr Babalakin explained the reasons he would be unavailable for a meeting the committee had invited him and other members of the Governing Council to.
He also addressed the allegation that the council’s investigation of the past and current management of the university was for personal reasons “including his desire to chair the Tenders Board of the university”, which runs afoul of Section 22(2) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
￼Section 22(2) of the act stipulates that the National Council on Public Procurement shall approve the appointment of chairmen of Tenders Board in government organisations.
“Subject to the approval of the Council, the Bureau shall, from time to time, prescribe guidelines for the membership of the Tenders Board.”
In his letter to Mr Oke, the official explained that the allegations made against him were “very grave” and thus required a response since he would not be available to make contributions during the planned meeting.
Describing the allegation as “completely untrue and fabrication of lies” he said it should not have occurred in a university environment.
￼He explained why the university’s council decided to investigate the finances of the university.
“The Council found out that it was consistently being given inaccurate figures about finances of the university. It also found itself in a position where it could not state that the account and figures presented to Council were a fair representation of the accounts in the university,” Mr Babalakin wrote.
￼Mr Babalakin added that the council suspected that the university management was cutting corners with the manner it executed projects in the university.
“The Council also observed that projects in the University hardly ever comply with terms of the award. The projects are rarely completed on schedule. As of today, there are many projects in the University that have been ongoing for an unreasonable length of time.
“Recently the Library building under construction collapsed in the university which reflects very clearly the weakness in the procurement process and the supervisory capacity of the university. We were very lucky that no life was lost.”
￼He said the council, therefore, set up a committee to investigate the suspected sharp practices of the management.
He added that the council appointed Olutola Senbore, a former chairman of First City Monument Bank, to assist the committee with the investigation.
“The committee in its report amongst other things found out that the procurement process in the University of Lagos was weak and felt that the previous system of having the pro-chancellor chair the Tender Board Committee would ameliorate the situation. The committee felt that the University management had not done well in the exercise of its procurement responsibilities. It felt that the move would reduce the number of uncompleted projects in the University,” he wrote.
￼He explained that despite the committee’s recommendation, he declined to chair the Tenders Board.
“I stated clearly that I was not interested in chairing any tenders Board. That recommendation was thus rejected by the Council.”
Mr Babalakin then wondered why the writer of the petition was in such haste when the University Governing Council was yet to accept the report of the committee.
“Sir, as at the 9th of May 2019 when the notice of your committee was issued, the council had not accepted the report of the committee on this item, and so, no issue had arisen whatsoever. Consequently, there was nothing to petition about. Thus, the petition had no basis.
￼“Furthermore as at 16th of May 2019 when the hearing was billed to take place, the issue of the chairmanship of the Tender’s Board had been tabled and discarded. It was a dead issued,” he wrote.
He then suggested that the writer of the petition ”may be trying to stop the University Council from acting on the report of the committee.”
“Sir, I continue to wonder how any member of the University community could have written a petition like this that has no foundation. The writer of the petition must explain its motive because the petition was premature. Was it designed to blackmail the Council so that it will not discuss the reports of the committee of Council?” he asked.
Donations to University
Mr Babalakin further explained to the House of Representatives committee on Public Procurement that since he was appointed pro-chancellor of the university, ”he has not made any money from his position which begs the question why he would want to be made the chair of the university Tender’s Board.”
Mr Babalakin explained that he had donated over N46.1 million and $5,000.00 of his money to the university since he was appointed pro-chancellor of the university or in the six years that he had worked as pro-chancellor in other universities.
￼According to him, the donation included N12.5 million, to pay the fees of consultants who investigated the university books, N8 million to the Faculty of Law paid on a monthly instalment from January 2018, N6.4 million to the Department of Creative Arts paid on a monthly instalment of N400,000.00 from January 2015, and N5.1 million.
Other donations Mr Babalakin said he made to the university were N5 million to fund the 2019 pro-chancellors lecture, N5 million made towards the refurbishment of the Faculty of Law Auditorium, N3.1 million made in 2018 to outstanding graduates of the Faculty of Law during convocation, N.7 million to purchase equipment for the Faculty of Pharmacy, N2 million in favour of the Alumni Association, $5,000.00 to the Faculty of Environmental Sciences and N1.3 million as prizes for the 2019 outstanding graduate of the Faculty of Law.
￼“I have never collected one kobo from the University of Lagos. I have not collected any sitting allowance, council allowance, travel allowance or any allowance whatsoever from the University of Lagos since I became Pro-Chancellor.
“I do not even allow the University to provide me with any facility, including a vehicle for official use. I do not allow the university to pay for any services for me. When I host events at my lodge, I insist on providing the food and drinks consumed in the lodge.
“I have not expressed any interest in any contract or service in the University of Lagos. I will never express any financial interest in any organisation where I have offered my services as a charity. I am in UNILAG to offer my service free of charge.
￼“Is it reasonable that an individual who spent this amount of money over two years without requesting anything in return, will now seek to chair the tender’s board for personal gain?” he asked.
When reached for comments, Mr Oke told this newspaper investigation into the matter was ongoing.
“We are looking into the issue. We are looking at the submission of both the Pro-Chancellor and the university management. We will come to you at the end of the investigation,” he said. (Premium Times)
It was a marriage doomed from the beginning, and after 13 years, it culminated in a tragedy. Presently, the couple, who live in Lafia, capital of Nasarawa State, are gradually coming to terms with the fact that they have opened a Pandora’s box.
It started with the husband’s deceit hiding his impotency from the woman he intended to marry; it got messier with the woman’s effort to break her 12-year barrenness by sleeping with the houseboy and she committed worse sin by murdering the 21-year-old househelp in order to keep her secret. Then a final twist: it turned out the houseboy was actually her husband’s son, born out of wedlock while he was a randy youth. This family calamity with the accompanying incest and murder was spawned by too many secrets between husband and wife.
Strange and improbable it may sound, this is actually a true-life story, a revelation that came straight from the horse’s mouth from the main protagonist herself the nine-month pregnant wife, Rebecca Bako, who prodded by guilty conscience on her own volition knocked on the door of a minister on May 20, 2019, to narrate the travails of her matrimony.
Rebecca Bako, arriving at the minister’s house by 8 am at first sat quietly on the bench outside. Few minutes later, she was sharing her story with the pastor in the presence of Saturday Sun correspondent.
It was a bizarre, complex, mind-numbing story of 12 years of fruitless marriage, with what would have been the climax the birth of the nine-month pregnancy becoming an anticlimax.
What was Rebecca’s purpose for involving the pastor? To make a confession, seek God’s forgiveness and plead with the pastor to talk to her husband to forgive her, she clarified.
In an emotion-laden voice, the beleaguered housewife recounted how a perfect marriage gradually turned sour due to barrenness. Her narrative highlighted the aggravating factors, such as a toxic mother-in-law who harangued her endlessly, her husband’s lackadaisical attitude to their childlessness, her own fear of impending menopause and the bad advice of Rose, her childhood friend.
A marriage doomed by childlessness
Before she began her story proper, Rebecca Bako spent two minutes wiping her tears.
She started with a recollection of the sunny days. “He was my best friend before we got married. We had a beautiful wedding. Our honeymoon was fun. We were ready to have children as quickly as possible so we could move on.”
As with most marriage, barrenness begets misery.
“After 12 years, I didn’t conceive, I became apprehensive because I was not young any longer and I was nearing menopause. My mother-in-law was even more desperate. She pressured her son to take another wife. I understood her position. My childhood friend, Rose, who is married in Makurdi, advised us to adopt a child, but my husband wouldn’t buy the idea.
“My mother-in-law later came to live with us in the house and she became my nightmare. She made life a living hell for me, to the extent that I contemplated suicide countless times because she insulted me and claimed that I charmed her son who is the only son in the family.”
A friend’s sinful counsel
At her wit’s end, she turned to friends for advice.
“At a point, I had to share my experience with my friend, Rose, who confessed to me that she once faced a similar problem. She suggested that perhaps my husband might have been the source of the problem all these years. Her advice to me was to find a younger lover and try having sex with him to see whether it would work. According to her, that was how she gave birth to her three children. When she discovered that her husband was finding it difficult to impregnate her after more than two years of marriage, she devised a means of bearing children for him by having an affair outside, and it had worked perfectly for her, that had been the secret to her 10 years of a successful marriage.”
Rebecca recounted her friend’s advice to her: “Go for a guy who is not yet married, who is strong enough to give you the best of sexual satisfaction any time an opportunity presents itself, whether in the night or daytime. An unmarried man can easily walk away without accepting responsibility since he will equally get married someday to raise his own family, so there won’t be complications of laying claims to the child, but do not let the guy know that he is responsible.”
She at first found such advice impracticable. “I had never cheated on my husband before,” Rebecca said. “But I was equally considering my age too just a year away from menopause. For several weeks, I thought over it. I didn’t understand how I would submit my private part to a man other than my own husband; I didn’t know how to find a man who would sleep with me, get me pregnant, and then just walk away.”
Unfortunately, she had, at the time, reached the limit of her endurance, and the circumstance around her was not in her favour. “I’d prayed to God for a way out, but I didn’t get any immediate solution; worse still, I was conscious of my fast-approaching menopause. I concluded that if I did not act fast, I risked losing my marriage once I reach menopause the following year because my mother-in-law was not ready to take chances. She had taken the matter seriously that I must give way for her son to marry another wife who can bear her grandchildren.”
Seducing the houseboy
Bako decided to take her chances after giving the issue a lengthy contemplation.
“I concluded that it is better I sleep with our houseboy, Kenneth, who is 21 years old. I had seen his crotch whenever he wore his boxer to keep the house clean. I realised that his manhood was long and sizeable enough to perform such functions. My husband had brought Kenneth from his village to live with us. He had just finished his secondary school and was preparing to go to university. I started admiring him anytime my husband went to work.
I summoned the courage and made advances, wooing him with gifts like new trousers and shirts, takeaway food and other attractive items. In no time, he succumbed to me and we started having sex. I warned him never to reveal it and threatened to kill him if tries it. He was not too perfect in bed because of his age, but he was strong enough to give me sexual satisfaction because it takes him longer to release. We progressed in that direction and it became regular.
“After two months of this, I missed my period and the result was pregnancy. I was very happy and informed my friend, Rose that her advice has worked; what my husband could not do for 12 years, Kenneth has done it in less than three months.”
Another diabolical advice
After about four months, Rebecca’s friend, Rose sold her another terrible suggestion. She asked her to eliminate the houseboy who impregnated her. Her reason: He might one day reveal the secret and try to claim the child, thereby bringing shame and embarrassment to the couple.
“Something held me back because he was innocent and did not offend me,” she claimed. “After all, I lured him into having an affair with me against his wish.”
She continued: “But Rose continued to pester me, pointing out the dangers to me. Eventually, I had mixed Sniper (a deadly insecticide), otapiapa and rat killer with his food. I kept the meal for him and went to the hospital for medical checkup. Before my return, he had eaten the poisoned food and later died of stomach pain after four hours in the hospital.”
She cleverly managed the aftermath by convincing her husband the houseboy’s death could be due to spiritual attacks from the village. One week after his death, the body of the 21-year-old was buried, in December 2018.
“I was sad after his death. I regretted taking such action. I prayed to God to forgive all my sins and I distanced myself from Rose––I stopped picking her calls.”
While the death of the houseboy has eliminated the possible risk of future embarrassment, all she got was cold comfort.
“I notice that my husband was sad and affected by Kenneth’s untimely death. He was affected psychologically so much so it almost cost him his job at the bank. He ceased to be a happy man, even with my pregnancy. I tried severally to discuss with him about the future of my unborn baby, but it never interests him, at the time, I was in the fifth month of my pregnancy. Even though the test shows that we are expecting a baby boy, the man was still not happy at all.”
Then comes the dark secret
Three months later, early in the morning of April 30, 2019, her husband had abruptly woken her. She came awake to find him in a disturbed and depressed state. The man broke down, crying uncontrollably, unable to tell his wife the cause of his misery.
After a 30-minute cry jag, he was calm enough to tell her why he was crying.
He narrated a terrible and shocking story.
Rebecca recalled: “He started by apologising to me for not being fair to me by hiding from me what he ought to have told me from the first day of our marriage 13 years ago. I was confused. What fairness is he talking about? I became curious. Could it be that I am not the only one hiding secrets in this marriage?”
She recalled verbatim what her husband told her.
“He said: “While growing up many years ago, I lived a very rough life. I contracted a Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and was too ashamed to go to the hospital to treat it, but opted for a local treatment, which was not working. Later I had some medical complications, the untreated virus damaged my testicles and rendered me impotent forever. I didn’t know how to tell you all these years, but earlier before the infection, my girlfriend then in my diploma programme years back got pregnant for me, and refused to abort it, and that cost our relationship. But after three years, she brought a boy to my father. I wanted to reject it but my father accepted the boy and took responsibility while I proceeded to the university. It was the same girl that gave me the disease. She died a few years later as a result of the complications too.”
At this point, his wife had asked about the whereabouts of the boy and how he was faring. Her husband’s reply confirmed her worst fear: “The boy is the late Kenneth who had lived with us as a houseboy. I didn’t want you to know his true identity. I was afraid you might maltreat him or even kill him as most women do to children who are born into their matrimonial homes from another woman. I wanted to protect him since I wasn’t going to be able to get a woman pregnant in my lifetime again.”
The embattled husband once again burst into tears. The couple then came to the knotty part of their matrimonial misfortune when the husband dropped the next bombshell: “ I knew all these while that the baby in your womb is not my own, but I was too ashamed to confront you; now that everything has come to the open, please tell me, who is the father of our unborn child?”
This was how Rebecca found herself in a classic catch-22 situation. At that point, it was clear lies would further complicate the situation.
She decided to come clean, she claimed.
“I burst into tears and cried uncontrollably. I found it difficult to explain to him. Since he had been plain with me, I knelt before him in tears and confessed to him that the late Kenneth was the father of my unborn baby boy and that I was also responsible for his death. I pleaded with him to forgive me of all my sins, that I took that course of action to protect the marriage, and the consolation is that the new baby boy will replace his late son.”
According to Rebecca, her husband’s mien had briefly reflected anger when he learnt about the circumstances surrounding his son-houseboy death. He, however, appeared conciliatory, advising his wife to let go of the past.
Since their mutual confessions three weeks ago, life has not been the same between the Bako couple. Deteriorating relation between them has put Rebecca on tenterhooks.
“My husband has become a changed person completely,” she said. “He has emaciated, looking sorrowful nowadays. He hardly eats at home. He keeps late nights. As a banker, he gets home around 7 pm. Yet, he still goes out, which is very unusual of him. We hardly talk now. He hardly responds to my conversations. I am worried and even afraid to stay with him under the same roof. I suspect that he might also kill my son too when I delivered. His aloofness really worries me.”
On that note she concluded her story, bursting into tears again.
Pastor Joshua promised to meet with the husband by the weekend to hear his own side of the story before taking any decision.
Saturday Sun correspondent who was privy to the confession subsequently contacted Rebecca’s husband, who was hardly available due to the tight schedule of his job.
Daniel Bako was forthright in his response. “My brother, I am not myself. I am confused. I don’t deserve to be alive again. I am contemplating suicide. I wanted to give Kenneth the best education because he was my own blood, my only child in my entire life. I am yet to decide whether to be alive or not.”
On his wife, he is “confused about what to do with her.” He said: “It is not enough to kill my son in the name that she wants to protect the marriage. What marriage? What she did is an unforgiving crime, even if he (Kenneth) was not my son, it is wrong anywhere.” (The Sun)
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared Bello Matawalle of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of Zamfara state governorship election.
Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, announced this during a press conference in Abuja on Saturday.
He also said the party won all but one of the elective positions in the state. Kabiru Hassan of the National Rescue Movement (NRM) won the election in Maru south state constituency.
Yakubu said this followed the supreme court decision sacking all candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the general election.
The apex court had ruled the party did not hold a valid primary election and subsequently voided its votes.
Matawalle had scored 189,452 to emerge second in the governorship election. (The Cable)
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Friday evening commissioned the ultra-modern Lagos Theatre in Epe, expressing fulfillment with the projects executed by his administration within the ancient town and the adjoining communities.
Governor Ambode, who is exiting office on May 29, said it was particularly fulfilling that he was able to implement a number of projects which changed the outlook of the town and made life further comfortable for the people, as well as improve the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the State.
“This is more or less a fulfilling day for me; if there is anything for me to say, it is the fact that I am fulfilled that a day like this can come in Epe. I mean, four days to go, in four years, we have turned things around. God has given us that grace that we can come back here and actually spend my last weekend here with my people.
“We are very delighted that among the Art Theatres that we have established, we have the opportunity to come and commission the one in Epe. The first one – the Lagos Theatre in Oregun was commissioned by Mr President and then followed by the one in Igando. That of Badagry will be commissioned on Monday making four out of the six that we had actually planned. Two to go and believing strongly that the vision to actually bring out the best of the talents of our younger ones is part of this structure that you are seeing here,” Governor Ambode said.
He said the initiative to construct the theatres across the State was borne out of the vision to create a framework to bring out the creativity and innovative skills of talented youths, as well as serving as a platform to scale up communal bonding among the people.
On other initiative in the tourism sector, Governor Ambode said: “We are also renovating Glover Memorial Hall; it’s been fully paid for and in another few months, they should be able to commission it also so that we can have top class tourist attractions in all these locations. People can decide to come and watch a play in Epe and then drive back to Lagos.
“In totality, beyond the fact that we are trying to bring out the talents from the younger ones, the ultimate goal is to increase the GDP of Lagos because in the services provided here and all the other things that would be done in other locations, you have more people that would be earning income; you would have more people that would be paying taxes; you have more people that you can generate income from which you can now use back to improve on the lot of Lagosians.”
While thanking people of Epe Division for standing by him and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Ambode urged them to also support the incoming government of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu to further develop the State.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank all the people in Epe here including Eredo, Ibeju Lekki and then in Agbowa. You stood by me and in area where we decided that we should go in the same direction to uplift the party so that we can bring in the next Governor, you all cooperated with us and I want to say a very big thank you.
“Whatever kind of support that you have given in the course of my own four years, in the course of election and also in the spirit of upholding the tenet of the party, all that must be extended to Mr Sanwo-Olu to also make sure that things that we have achieved in the last four years are not disrupted and that is the whole essence of humanity.
“The whole essence is have I improved on the way I met Lagos four years ago? It’s left for the people to judge and we know also that whoever is coming next must also use mine as a benchmark to improve on the lot of the people of Lagos. The whole idea is to continue to improve and ensure that people don’t suffer and then people enjoy the dividends of democracy,” Governor Ambode said.
He also urged the people to take ownership of project with the view to properly maintain and sustain it.
Speaking earlier, veteran Nollywood actress, Joke Silva commended Governor Ambode for the theatres, expressing optimism that the next administration would build on the gains recorded in the sector in the last four years.
“I remember when I heard about the building of the theatres, I was just so so excited that finally we have someone who understood the need for culture in the life of the people; someone who understood that when people meet you one of the first things that they come in contact with about you is your culture.
“There are lots of people in my industry who believes that because the theatres are in the communities there would be a challenge to make them thrive and I think that is totally wrong because theatre grows in communities when the people take ownership. I believe from theatres like this, we are going to have some amazing writers; we are going to have the new Wole Soyinkas of this world and so on who would have the opportunity to fine-tune their works because they have a space such as this,” she said.
Also, Chairman of Epe Local Government, Hon Adedoyin Adesanya said the people of Epe were grateful to Governor Ambode for the projects executed in the division, saying that the theatre would go a long way in boosting tourism and entertainment, as well as create jobs for the people.
Facilities at the theatre include standard furnishing, gallery, artiste changing room, rehearsal hall, restaurant, restrooms, power generating sets and well-laid out car park, among others.
The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has stated that Africa is the strategy of Ecobank. Akinwuntan who was speaking in commemoration of Africa Day 2019 noted that Ecobank’s “approach to doing business in Africa is to create a united and integrated brand and platform that reflects the values of Africa as a whole whilst leveraging its diverse talents and resources to tackle its common challenges and realize its immense opportunities as one market”.
“With a larger African footprint than any other bank in the world operating in West, Central East and Southern Africa, we are the only bank that spans 36 African countries, but operates a truly integrated African network.
“That is One unified integrated Ecobank Mobile Banking App, that works seamlessly across all 33 operating countries in Africa; One Ecobank Omni and Omnilite serving all Multinationals and SMEs in Africa; One Rapidtransfer app that breaks down country borders and allows the diaspora community send money directly to their loved ones, instantly and affordably across Africa; One Ecobank Online Banking platform that you can access easily whether you are in Abuja or Kinshasha,” he stated.
Further, Mr Akinwuntan reiterated that Ecobank is the Pan Africa bank, contributing to the development and advancement of the continent through financial integration with uniform world –class practices and proprietary technologies.
According to him Ecobank is making profound impact across the continent by ensuring customers can own a bank account, transact and unlock opportunities with ease.
“We make Africa better. On this year’s Africa Day, we celebrate who we are, where we have come from and where we are going; but most of all, we are celebrating our commitment to make Africa greater”.
First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has rewarded another set of its Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) customers in Season 2 of the Bank’s reward scheme tagged “FCMB SME Race to China Promo”.
The winners emerged through rounds of electronic selection from the pool of qualified SME customers in the first draws of the promo (for the months of March and April) held in Lagos, Kano, Abia and Oyo states.
At the Lagos regional draw, Eternal Fabrics Enterprises and Gold Tech Multi-Global Limited, won the star prizes for the months of March and April, respectively, while Jahved Ventures and Sapart Integrated Services Limited in Gombe State emerged winners at the Northern regional draw which took place in Kano.
Similarly, Soupah Farm-En-Market Limited and Lade Olagbenro & Company were the star prize winners at the regional draws for South-west, held in Ibadan, Oyo State. Ife Progress Resources Limited and The Congregation of the Mission emerged lucky winners at the South-east/South-south regional draw held in Aba, Abia State.
Among the winners of $500 preloaded shopping cards, power generating sets and laptops are Suraj Furniture Limited, Smoothie Express Limited, Pisces OEA Multibil Limited, Goldmet Ventures, Exclusive Champion Limited, Kingdom Ideas Integrated Limited and Brands Yard Limited.\
Season 2 of the ‘’FCMB SME Race to China Promo”, which commenced in May and will run till October, is an extension of the first phase held last year following the huge success and impact recorded. It is designed by FCMB to give extra value, empower and reward its Business Banking/SME customers for their patronage and loyalty over the years. The promo is targeted at business customers who operate any of the Bank’s local currency accounts. There will be a total of 6 draws which will hold monthly.
Speaking on Season 2 of the ‘’FCMB SME Race to China Promo” the Executive Director, Business Development of the Bank, Mrs. Bukola Smith, said, “this is part of our initiatives to demonstrate our commitment to the growth of SMEs, which are key drivers of economic development. The second edition of this promo has been enhanced to ensure that more customers have the opportunity to emerge as winners.
“From 43 winners in the first edition held last year, a total of 320 customers will win either a trip to China, $500 pre-loaded shopping cards, business enablers and other gifts that are on offer in the second edition. We will continue to create opportunities and offer the very best of products as well as services that will grow the business of our SME customers in a sustainable manner.”
In their comments, the winners commended FCMB for considering it worthy to reward and empower its SME customers. According to the Managing Director of Ife Progress Resources, Mr. Ezeike Ifechukwu, “I was in shock and at same time very happy when I was called by FCMB that I have won a trip to China. I have never been lucky, not even once in my life to win anything.
So when I received a text message from FCMB telling me about the Race to China Promo, I didn’t really bother. But having won the star prize, I thank the Bank, our Bank. I am a shareholder of FCMB, a customer for more than ten years, and I maintain series of accounts. FCMB has always been my number one Bank. Today, I repledge my loyalty to FCMB. I will ensure that I drive more customers to FCMB”.
Another star prize winner of a trip to China, Mrs. Joyce Ajanah, who is the Managing Director of Gold Tech Multi-Tech Limited, said, “I am very excited, really short of words and extremely grateful to FCMB. This is definitely going to make my business grow significantly. The FCMB Race to China promo is a very good initiative. The Bank is going places”.
Seven months after he was released from prison custody in Port Harcourt, Rivers State over kidnapping, Sorbari Apollolos has found his way back to the place for the same offence.
Popularly known as Blackie among his gang members, Apollolos was recently arrested by the police for kidnapping a 67-year-old businesswoman identified only as Obianuju.
Apollolos and three other suspects, Daniel Johngbo, Harridon Barryira and Lebara Tobia, were apprehended at several locations in the state.
City Round learnt that Obianuju was returning home from a church in a Toyota Sienna on February 7, 2019, when the gun-wielding kidnappers ambushed her some metres away from her Rumuobiakani residence.
The suspects, some of whom were reportedly dressed in military camouflage, whisked the woman away in her vehicle.
They allegedly held her hostage in a forest for six days and collected millions of naira in ransom before she was released.
Our correspondent learnt that the woman petitioned the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who directed the Intelligence Response Team of the Force to find the perpetrators of the crime.
IRT operatives tracked down Apollolos at his hideout in Kono-Bowe community in the Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
He was said to have confessed to the crime and given the police team information that led to the arrest of the three other members of the gang.
Speaking with City Round during the week, Apollolos noted that Obianuju’s kidnap was coordinated by one Gbenena, who is still at large, adding that he (Apollolos) got a share of N350,000 from the ransom.
Apollolos, who said he was in prison for offences bordering on kidnapping and cult-related activities, told our correspondent that he took to the crime again to raise money to settle a lawyer who facilitated his release from the prison.
He stated, “I am a member of De-Gbam cult. I was initiated in 2011 by one of my friends known as Tambake Tax, who is the unit head of the confraternity in my community. I was introduced to kidnapping by one Ayapsi, alias Gbenena, and one Gboma. We were all involved in the kidnapping of Mrs Obianuju. I did that ‘job’ because I needed money to balance my lawyer who helped to secure my release from the prison in September 2018. I was held for engaging in cult-related activities and kidnapping in March 2016.
“I approached Gbenena for financial assistance and offered him my farmland in exchange for the money but he refused. He said he had a kidnapping job that would be more profitable for me. On February 5, 2019, one of Gbenena’s friends, who had been monitoring our target (Obianuju), came to his house and told us that it was time to strike. Gbenena also informed us that he had made arrangements for an army uniform that would be used by the driver of our vehicle, Barriyra, to beat security checkpoints.
“On February 7, 2019, Gbenena invited me to his house and when I got there, I met Barriyra and Gboma’s brother, who was holding an army uniform. I also saw a Toyota Corolla, and two AK-47 rifles. Gbenena prayed for us at his shrine and we headed for Port Harcourt. I took one of the AK-47 rifles, while Gboma’s brother with the army uniform was armed with an English pistol.”
Apollolos said ransom negotiation and collection were carried out by Gbenena, noting that a resident of the area where Obianuju resides gave the “job” to the gang.
Recalling his kidnapping escapades, the 28-year-old man stated that he took to the crime in 2015 and participated in two operations before he was arrested in March 2016.
He said he got N150,000 share from N800,000 ransom they collected from the relatives of one of their victims whom they kidnapped in Nyorkwe community.
He added, “My gang members and I also did another kidnapping job in March 2016 at Ogboro village. We were four that went for the operation. We kidnapped the man from his pharmacy. He jumped out of the vehicle as we were approaching traffic around Wimpey Junction. All my gang members jumped out of the vehicle, but I was not lucky. Police arrested me and recovered an AK-47 rifle from me.
“I was taken to Kala Police Station before I was transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, where I spent six months. I was charged to court and was in prison from March 2016 to September 2018, when my lawyer secured my release. My boss’ name is Solomon. He controls over 200 boys in his camp. He has over 30 AK-47 rifles and ammunition in his camp.”
In his confession, 20-year-old Johngbo said Gbenena engaged him to take care of Obianuju during her stay in captivity.
He said Obianuju prayed for him before she was freed and advised him to turn a new leaf.
He said, “I didn’t go out with the gang on the day they kidnapped the woman. The wife of our gang leader (Gbenena) gave me N1,500 to buy fried rice and chicken and Gbenena took me on his motorcycle to give the food to the woman in the camp. I spent the night there and the next day, Gbenena gave me N3,000 to buy an asthmatic drug for the woman.
“When I came back, the woman told me that my gang members had been beating her. Out of pity, I decided to stay in the camp so that they wouldn’t beat her again. On the third day, the woman prayed for me and promised to send me to school. She gave me the address of her church at Rumuomasi Market Junction and advised me to give my life to Jesus Christ.”
The driver, Barriyra, 33, said he met Apollolos and Gboma in January 2019 at Kono-Bowe community when he visited his wife, who hails from the village.
“We became friends afterwards. On February 7, 2019, they called to invite me for a job. Few days after the woman was kidnapped, Gbenena gave me N500,000 as my share of the ransom. He told me that N6m was paid as ransom,” he added.
Narrating her ordeal, Obianuju, said the kidnappers initially demanded N80m in ransom and subjected her to series of torture. She said the abductors told her they had been paid N40m to kill her.
Obianunju recalled, “After I was abducted, the kidnappers slapped me several times. They told me that they had been trailing me since 2008. The beating persisted and I almost suffocated. They took me to the forest where they resumed the beating. They flogged me several times. One of them hit me on the forehead with a hammer. At that point, I informed them that my family could raise the N80m ransom they demanded and they opened negotiations with them.” (Punch)