For allegedly defrauding the mortgage firm of a sum to the tune of N32, 632, 667.91 million, the former Managing Director, MD, Mortgage PHB Limited, Bayo Adewakun, was today arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria.
Bayo Adewakun was arraigned by the office of the Department of Public Prosecution, DPP, of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, before Justice Saliu Saidu on four counts charge of reckless granting of loan facilities without having mandatory approval from the Bank.
Bayo Adewakun was alleged to have committed the offence between April 29, 2014 and June 28, 2019, while at the helm of affairs of the mortgage firm.
Bayo Adewakun was alleged to have recklessly granted loan facilities of more than 20 percent of shareholders funds to his firm, B. Waks Consultant.
The alleged offences according to prosecutor, Mrs. Gladys Ezinwa-Ukoha, are contrary to 15(1)(a)(i) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts and Financial Malpractices in Bank Act) CAP F2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and Punishable under Section 16(1) (3) of the same Act, and sections 20 and 18(a) of the Banks and Other Financial Institution Act (BOFIA) CAP F2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and Punishable under under Section 18(2) of the same Act.
The prosecutor, while arraigning the defendant, alleged that he recklessly granted a facility of N10 million, N5 million and N17. 632, 667.91 million, to his firm, B. Waks Consultant, without adequate security for such facilities .
The prosecutor also told the court that the defendant used the said facilities to partly finance the completion of a Housing Development at Victoria Garden City (VGC) for outright sale.
However, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Upon the defendant not guilty plea, the prosecutor asked the court for a trial date.
The defendant’s counsel, S. B Joseph and A. A. Kelani told the court that they have filed their client’s bail application and has been served on the prosecutor.
The counsel pleaded for a short date to hear and determine the application.
The prosecutor, Mrs. Ezinwa-Ukoha, admitted being served with the application but said she needed to go through the application and file her response.
With the parties demanding for a short date, Justice Saliu Saidu, adjourned the matter till Monday, March 16, for hearing and determination of the defendant’s bail application.
Justice Saidu however ordered that the defendant be remanded in the custody of Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS) till the determination of the bail application.
The Lagos House of Assembly, on Monday, passed a resolution sacking two of its principal officers and suspending two members indefinitely for gross misconduct, insubordination and action that could destabilise the House.
Speaker of the House, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, announced the punitive measures following voice votes by the members present during plenary session.
Obasa said the principal officers that were removed included the Chief Whip, Mr Rotimi Abiru and the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Olumuyiwa Jimoh.
The speaker also announced that the suspended members were Mr Moshood Oshun (Lagos Mainland Constituency II) and Mr Kazeem Raheem Adewale (Ibeju Lekki Constituency II).
Obasa explained that the House was the hope of the people and the heartbeat of democracy and as such should be well guided.
“I hereby invoke Section 68 and Section 70 4 (a, b) 2 and 3 of the House rules in respect of gross misconduct, insurbodination and action that can destablise this House.
“I hereby move that Hon. Moshood Oshun and Hon. Raheem Adewale be placed on suspension indefinitely,” the Speaker said.
The two decisions were supported through voice votes by the members present during plenary session.
The request for the removal notice of the two principal officers and change in the leadership was contained in a letter read at plenary by the Clerk of the House, Mr Azeez Sanni.
Sanni explained that the letter, signed by the 26 members, notified the House to change the leadership of the House including, Mr Rotimi Abiru as the Chief Whip and Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Olumuyiwa Jimoh.
He said their removal and suspension came amidst speculation that they were involved in critical issues that could divide the House and that more revelations might come in the coming days.
The House subsequently adjourned sitting to Tuesday.
The Ondo State Police Command, on Monday, said a 42-year-old Okada rider, Jimoh Adams, rammed into a stationary vehicle and died while avoiding Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s convoy in Owo.
ASP Tee-Leo Ikoro, the Ondo State Police Public Relations Officer, said in Akure that the commercial motorcyclist was trying to avoid the governor’s convoy when the incident occurred on Sunday night.
“There was an accident yesterday (Sunday) night in Owo where an Okada man on high speed rammed into a stationary Jeep and died on the spot.
“It was not the convoy of the governor that killed him, the truth is that it was the speed of the Okada man that was the problem, and he rammed into the stationary vehicle and killed himself.
“He suddenly heard the governor convoy’s siren, he was speeding and to avoid the convoy, he rammed into a stationary vehicle (Jeep).
“When the police heard about the incident, we came down to the scene immediately, but before we got there the family of the deceased had taken him away for burial.
“The jeep is in our station in Owo,” he said.
The governor’s convoy was said to be returning from Oka-Akoko in Akoko South-West Local Government area for Akure when the incident occurred.
According to family member, the deceased, a resident in Oba-Nla Street, Okedogbon Quarters, Owo, is survived by a wife and children.
Alhaji Aminu Ado has been announced as the new emir of Kano. The Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji made the announcement today, hours after Muhammadu Sanusi ll was dethroned.
Alhaji said the appointment was in line with the provision of Kano state Emirate Council Law 2019.
“Section 11 (1) of the Law has empowered the governor to appointment Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero as the emir of Kano,” he said.
The secretary to the state government said the four kingmakers of Kano emirate had earlier recommended the appointment of Aminu Ado Bayero as the emir of Kano.
Bayero is the 15th emir of Fulani. Until his appointment as emir of Kano, Bayero was the emir of Bichi, one of the four newly created emirates. Bayero is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University Kano.
He was also a former Danmajen Kano, Dan Buran, Sarkin Dawakin Tsakar Gida and Wamban Kano. He was later appointed emir of Bichi after the creation of Karaye, Gaya, Rano and Bichi Emirates by the present administration.
Union Bank recently marked International Women’s Day, reaffirming its commitment to women empowerment with the launch of the Alpher Mentorship Programme.
The Mentorship Programme aligns firmly with the global IWD 2020 theme – Each for Equal, a call for individuals to join the push for gender parity across the world.
The Mentorship scheme will provide a platform for young women to be mentored for a year by successful career women within Union Bank.
Speaking concerning the IWD celebrations and the launch of the Alpher Mentorship Programme, the Head of Retail Banking and Digital, Lola Cardoso said:
“As we join the world to celebrate International Women’s Day, we are especially proud to unveil the Alpher Mentorship Programme, an initiative which will provide young women with the support they require to thrive. Through our Alpher proposition, we will continue to support and enable success for women of all backgrounds.”
A key part of the event line up was the one-woman show Naked, by the award-winning actor, Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju. The play shines the spotlight on the highs, lows, achievements and failures that women are faced with as they strive to forge ahead in life.
The annual IWD celebrations at Union Bank also coincide with the anniversary of its Women Empowerment Hub (Wehub) – the Bank’s initiative established in 2016 as a platform to motivate, connect and provide support to its women.
At the IWD Celebrations last year, the Bank awarded 40 scholarships to women entrepreneurs to build their capacity through the Enterprise & Leadership Program (ELP) organised by China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in partnership with Leading Ladies Africa.
Union Bank remains committed to women empowerment. Last year, the Bank established an innovation hub for women from low-income communities in partnership with MamaMoni Empowerment Foundation. The first set of 60 women recently graduated from the scheme, empowered with life skills to establish and run their own businesses.
The Bank also recently launched Alpher, its unique proposition established to ‘enable success’ and empower women across all segments of the Nigerian society through capacity building opportunities, networking platforms, scholarships and tailored financial services for women.
The Kano State Government has given reasons for the dethronement of the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi II.
Among the reasons stated were alleged insubordination, refusal to attend official meetings and breach of Kano Emirate Law.
The Kano government made this known in a press statement signed by Secretary to the State Government, Usman Alhaji, announcing the removal of Sanusi.
Before the announcement on Monday, members of the Kano House of Assembly had engaged in a free-for-all over an attempt to remove the Emir.
The statement noted that Sanusi’s removal was a unanimous decision of members of the State Executive Council.
The statement read, “The Kano State Executive Council under the Chairmanship of his Excellency, the Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi GAnduje, has unanimously approved the immediate removal/dethronement of the Emir of Kano Emirate Muhammad Sanusi II.
“The Emir of Kano is in total disrespect to lawful instructions from the office of the state Governor and other lawful authorities, including his persistent refusal to attend official meetings and programmes organised by the Government without any lawful justification which amounts to total insubordination.
“It is on record and in so many instances Malam Muhammad Sanusi II has been found breaching part 3 Section 13 (a-e) of the Kano State Emirate Law 2019 and which if left unchecked will destroy the good and established image of Kano Emirate.
“This removal is made after due consultation with the relevant stakeholders and in compliance with Part 3 Section 13 of the Kano State Emirate Law 2019 and other reasons stated above.
“The removal was reached in order to safeguard the sanctity, culture, tradition, religion, and prestige of the Kano Emirate built over a thousand years.”
The governor subsequently called on the public to remain calm, law-abiding and to go about their normal businesses.
“A new Emir of Kano will soon be appointed,” the statement added.
In the bid to stimulate the growth of the economy, Nigeria’s leading retail bank, Access bank plc has launched TraderLite, an account that enables micro businesses, with turnover between N50, 000 – N1Million, operate their businesses with their individual name or registered business name.
Speaking at the launch of the new product, Victor Etuokwu, Executive Director, Retail Banking, Access bank plc, told newsmen that the bank looks at its customers beyond being just customers but also as partners.
In his words: “The future of Nigeria’s economy is Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises because they can provide more than enough jobs to the unemployed if empowered. And that is why the bank’s passion is to offer more than financial services to its customers and also work with them in growing and expanding their businesses. Whichever category you fall into; we are here to work with you to take your business to a whole new level.”
TradeLite, a variant of the Diamond Business Advantage account within the Bank’s emerging businesses portfolio, is specially designed for micro businesses with the aim of providing financial inclusion for businesses in that segment while equipping them with the required skills to grow their businesses.
The product has two variants namely: DBA TraderLite Individual, which is for individuals with unregistered businesses and DBA TraderLite Business, for registered businesses.
The Diamond Business Advantage proposition from Access bank has been designed to add value to Micro, Small and Medium scale business owners so that they can grow their businesses with smart banking. The proposition provides SME’s market linkages, increased referral base and networks that enable them scale the hurdles of accessing new markets for their products.
Networking sessions such as Business Clubs, Business clinics, and Business seminars enable MSME customers expand their referral base through interacting with other MSMEs. Please click HERE to know more about TraderLite and other exciting products and services from Access bank targeted at MSMEs and register to take your business to the next level.
Access Bank is the leading retail bank in Nigeria with over 600 branches and more than 40 million customers. The Bank offers products and services tailored to suit the lifestyle of every Nigerian irrespective of age and demographic.
The duo of Jerry and Meriton (Jeriton) have been checked out of Ultimate Love, proudly Naija reality television show.
The couple became the second couple to bid the Love Pad goodbye during the live check-out show on Sunday after they received the least number of votes out of the seven nominated couples from the voting public last week. They, however, went home with N600,000 and other items in their portmanteau, after they played the Jeopardy game on stage.
Meanwhile, five couples were nominated for possible check-out during the live nomination show on Sunday. The couples as announced by the show’s hosts, Dakore Egbuson-Akande and Oluwaseun Olaniyan, are Bolar (Bolanle and Arnold), Roksie (Rosie and Kachi), PreshDavid (Presh Talker and David), Jelo (Jenny Koko and Louis) and Chivia (Chiddy Bankz and Sylvia).
Bolar led the pack this week with six nominations, Roksie had four nominations each; while PreshDavid, Jelo and Chivia got two nominations respectively.
However, Aunty has the power to save one of the couples from possible eviction and the couple will be saved after performing a real-world mission task as chosen by her. The couples selected for the task by the show’s Aunty– Adesuwa Onyenokwe are PreshDavid and Jelo.
The couples with the least number of votes will be evicted during the live check-out show next Sunday.
Voting will start on Tuesday at 8 pm and will close on Thursday at 10 pm. Voting can be done via the Africa Magic website, mobile platforms as well as DStv and GOtv Apps.
Ultimate Love is live 24/7 on DStv Premium, DStv Compact Plus, DStv Compact, DStv Confam and DStv Yanga packages on channel 198; and on GOtv Max and GOtv Jolli packages on channel 29.
Information reaching us reveals that the Kano State government has removed the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II (Emir Sanusi).
Earlier on Monday, members of the Kano State House of Assembly fought over plan to submit a report, recommending the removal of the Emir.
A group had on Wednesday last week submitted a petition before the house, calling for the emir’s removal for alleged violation of culture and tradition of the state.
The speaker of the Assembly, Abdulaziz Gafasa, without reading the exact content of the petition, then set up a committee headed by the deputy speaker, Hamisu Chidari, to investigate and report within one week.
But crisis broke in the Assembly on Monday Morning when the deputy speaker sought the approval of the house to present the report today.
As members of the opposition PDP insisted that the report must be delayed till Tuesday for further investigation, the session went wild and the mace snatched by member representing Warawa Constituency.
I travel to meet Dr Adesola Adeduntan in Edinburgh, where he has been invited to give a keynote address at the Edinburgh School of Business about the role of financial institutions in driving financial inclusion. Fittingly, as you land in Edinburgh, you are greeted by billboards from different investment funds advertising their credentials in responsible and sustainable investment and how environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations underpin their activities.
With economists and politicians questioning capitalism and the Western liberal model, today the emphasis is very much on a stakeholder-based approach, whereby growth and prosperity is more equally attributed and takes into consideration the needs of the wider community. Sustainable investment has become de rigueur among corporate jargon.
Dr Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan, CEO of First Bank of Nigeria, is a veteran in the Nigerian banking and corporate world. His overriding message, clearly expressed throughout his interview responses, and also at the various talks he gave during the day (at the Business School and at a law firm), is on the importance of doing good if you’re to do well – financially – in Nigeria and indeed, Africa.
A telling sign
FirstBank is actually the oldest bank in Africa. It was established in Lagos in 1894 as the Bank of British West Africa. Last year it celebrated its 125th anniversary. It is also the biggest bank in Nigeria in terms of assets and branch network.
For Adeduntan, a veterinary doctor by training, it becomes clear, once we have settled down for our discussion, that the institution’s longevity is a telling sign: it not only proves the bank’s resilience, it also shows that it has the right structures in terms of governance and the right business model, with the country’s development at its core. The theme of the anniversary celebrations was about how the bank has been woven into the fabric of Nigerian society.
The clear message to the industry is that while it is possible to make a quick buck, you can only enjoy the sort of longevity it has if you conduct your business with the interests of the country at heart.
Nonetheless, it’s apparent Adeduntan does not want to dwell too long on past glories. Using the analogy of a car, he says that there is a reason why the windshield is large whilst the rear-view mirror is small.
The challenge of fintech
As in most sectors, traditional ways of doing business have been coming under increasing disruption from ever-evolving technology. The banking industry is no exception and seems to be under siege from an expanding fintech onslaught.
I ask him if he is worried that non-financial companies will be entering the banking sector, especially given the recent change in regulation by the Central Bank that allows non-traditional finance institutions, namely mobile operators, to enter the fray.
He says he is not worried as his bank has one of the best defined strategies when it comes to financial inclusion and that it has the largest digital banking network in Nigeria.
Much of this has been developed through the bank’s FirstMonie Agents system: 46,000 agents represent the bank across the country. Currently, 9m customers transact on their USSD platform (by mobile phone, both smart and analogue) in addition to 3m customers transacting on the FirstMobile platform.
The agent network, the biggest of its kind in the country, enables the bank to provide services to the most remote rural communities; and because it doesn’t need to have an extensive branch network, it means that these services can be supplied at a fraction of the cost of a ‘legacy’ banking model.
Adeduntan prefers to use the phrase ‘financial deepening’ when talking about the unbanked. Financial inclusion has increased from the low 20s to approximately 40% in Nigeria over the past seven years and is expected to double to the mid-80s within the next five years.
He says ‘financial deepening’ occurs when financial inclusion starts playing an important role in economic development. It’s about layering additional products on the current agency banking network – services such as micro-credit, micro-insurance and micro-pension.
The aim is to provide value-added services whilst at the same time increasing the savings rate; this aspect, which is critical in driving investment rates, has been one factor behind Asia’s rapid growth.
It is in this area, he says, that the bank has a vital role to play and a distinct advantage over new entrants. Technology, he emphasises, will play a crucial part in broadening financial inclusion. In addition, it is important to partner and collaborate with different stakeholders such as NGOs and other organisations dealing with the bottom of the pyramid, to help them reach out to different groups and also improve financial literacy.
Last year saw a boom in venture capital investment into Nigeria. For example, $400m was invested in a number of fintech start-ups during November alone. Is he not worried that these fintech players, with their lower cost base and ability to use technology, AI and big data to overcome traditional hurdles, are going to take the majority share of the pie when it comes to servicing the unbanked?
He says that will only be the case if the banks do not manage to reinvent themselves. In Edinburgh, he actually spent a large part of his day visiting tech hubs around the university in the city and speaking to fintech companies. FirstBank, he adds, has a number of partnerships with fintechs as well as its own Digital Laboratory developing new solutions for the bank.
Nevertheless, he firmly believes that the ‘legacy banks’ will still continue to play a very central role, especially “in this part of the world where banks are quite dominant and they have significant buying power”.
In terms of settlements and deposits, he sees many of these new players as partners they can work with, even if in some areas they will be competitors.
Scope for growth
Despite the impressive strides made by the banking sector in Nigeria, Adeduntan believes there is still a massive scope for growth for the sector. He points out that none of the country’s top banks have made the Top 10 Banks in Africa list, despite Nigeria being the continent’s largest economy.
He thinks that with the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, “we are entering a very interesting period for the banking sector, not only in Nigeria but Africa in general”.
On the domestic front, does he expect further consolidation? “Within certain thresholds,” he answers. “Anything that would allow the strengthening of the entire banking sector, I am sure the Governor of the Central Bank would be positive about.”
He also points to demographics and the high rate of the unbanked as great opportunities for the growth of the sector continentally. “According to UNICEF, two billion babies will be born in Africa in the next 30 years,” he says. “And in places like DRC [where FirstBank has a presence] financial penetration is as low as 5%.” Put the two sets of figures together and, in theory at least, you get vast opportunity. But he adds the all-important caveat that demographics are only good if managed properly.
Supporting national champions
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the bank, however. Adeduntan inherited a bank with several large exposures in the oil & gas and energy sectors, at a time when the oil & gas prices fell considerably, resulting in the devaluation of the naira against the dollar.
He says his management weathered the storm, reduced NPL levels to under double digits, and has strengthened the risk infrastructure, thus enabling the bank to better deal with cyclical downturns in future.
Discussing the role of large companies in the commercial landscape, Adeduntan says it is essential to have big banks like FirstBank, just as it is vital to have national champion companies that have the scale and wherewithal to make transformative investment. Such companies require financial institutions of similar scale to support them. The Dangote Group’s investment into what will become the continent’s largest oil refinery is a case in point, he adds.
Role of the Central Bank
We move on to the regulator and the role of the Central Bank. Does he think that it is too interventionist, dictating how much banks should lend, where they should place their assets?
Adeduntan refused to be drawn into criticism of the regulator, with whom he says he, and other bank CEOs, have a strong relationship. But he did say that the role of a central bank in the development of an emerging economy is clearly different from the role of a central bank in a developed economy.
“It is not unusual that the Central Bank intervenes in critical sectors allied to the loan to deposit ratio. It’s about economic growth; it’s about development; it’s about channelling credit in sectors that are very important for the national economy.
“Let us take agriculture – again, we are one of the biggest lenders into that sector. We found the Central Bank intervention in some of those critical sectors extremely useful and not just for us as a bank, but for the country as a whole. When you look at intervention in agriculture, you have to put it in the context of the size of the population. Nigeria is a country of 200m people today. The business of feeding 200m people is a strategic business. Everything that is being done to ensure that at least we are self-sufficient in food production is strategically important. We find the Central Bank intervention in those areas quite useful and of national importance.”
He reflected the positive attitude of many Nigerian entrepreneurs to the country’s future. He says he has a lot of time for the Economic Advisory Council – composed of credible business leaders and economists – that has been put together by President Muhammadu Buhari. And despite reports that the government is not economy-minded, he thinks that it is a pro-business government.
It is nearly 10.00 in the evening when we finish our talk, his day having started at 07.30am. We go back to sustainability and the role of financial services to make sure they are lending to institutions that are ethical about their business and operating in a sustainable manner.
He says that the journey has started even if it is still early days. “But ultimately,” he says, “this is where we are headed. The Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principle speaks to this particular question. I think it’s evident from the points that I’ve made today, you can say that FirstBank is a bank that is happy to forego a few basis points in terms of its net margins, if that means it is contributing to development in a more ethical and sustainable way.
“We’ve always made a point that profitability is very important for us at FirstBank, but economic growth and national development is equally very important and speaks to the sustainability question.”