CBN: Coalition urges Tinubu to order probe of indicted persons, entities

A coalition of 259 anti-corruption, civil society and human rights groups, Coalition for Transparency and Economic Reforms (COTER) has called on President Bola Tinubu to order the immediate handing over of all the indicted persons and entities to the anti-graft agencies for immediate trial.

COTER said the President should also initiate the urgent recovery of the country’s stolen funds and properties being held by these indicted persons.

COTER warned the indicted persons to stop playing on the collective intelligence of Nigerians with their puerile defence of their looting of the nation’s commonwealth, having betrayed the confidence Nigerians reposed in them while they occupied public offices.

In a statement released Wednesday in Abuja, COTER’s President, Dr Peter Chima Chukwu and General Secretary, Mallam Auta Ibrahim Koko, stated that the defence of the heists by various indicted persons should be completely disregarded.

COTER said, “Emefiele and other indicted persons’ tactics to put up unnecessary defence are aimed at shifting the blame on former president Buhari to escape prosecution and  recovery of looted funds from them.

“All they are doing now is mere damage control. Unfortunately, it won’t fly with the Nigerian people, Government and the international community. They must all account for all their sins and transgressions against the Nigerian people.

“President Tinubu must not allow this matter to be swept under the carpet, Nigerian people and the international community are watching to see the outcome of all the investigations and how the report of the Special Investigator will be implemented.”

COTER also urged the President to initiate moves to recover the country’s stolen funds and properties being held by the indicted persons.

The call was sequel to the release of part of the report of the Special Investigation Panel set up to investigate the malfeasance which took place in the CBN. 

It was also gathered that the investigation team has sent out letters of invitation to the former Deputy CBN Governor, Tunde Lemo among others. 

The Team of the Special Investigator in its invitation letter to Lemo titled, “Re: CBN investigation activities: Invitation for a follow up meeting with the Special Investigator,” had described the TTB Chairman’s defence of the acquisition of Union Bank as “offensive”.

It noted that Lemo’s “offensive defence” of Union Bank’s acquisition by TTB contradicted the earlier statements made “under caution” by all those interrogated by the Special Investigator over the transaction, including Lemo himself, last August at the Department of State Services (DSS) headquarters in Abuja. 

The Team’s invitation letter also stated that the two foreign businessmen and shareholders of TTB had shunned an earlier invitation sent to them on August 28, 2023, in which they were requested to provide certain documents and information.

It added that up till Lemo’s public “offensive defence” of TTB’s acquisition of Union Bank on Sunday, the Special Investigator never heard from the two foreign shareholders and did not receive the requested documents from them. 

The invitation letter signed by DCP Eloho Okpoziakpo, Head of Operations, Office of the Special Investigator, and dated December 24, 2023, therefore, warned Lemo to inform both foreign shareholders of TTB to come along to the Thursday “meeting” with all the documents/information requested from them since August. 

It also informed the TTB Chairman that he’ll be expected to make “additional statements” during the Thursday meeting with the Special Investigator. 

The team, however, warned Lemo that if both Vink and Savara failed to honour Thursday’s invitation and provide/defend the requested documents/information, they’ll be deemed to have “decided to forfeit their purported shareholdings in TTB and Union Bank of Nigeria, irrespective of which vehicle that they are using to own the purported shares.”

It further warned the TTB Chairman not to also fail to attend the meeting physically “to provide additional statements to your earlier statements made in August 2023,” adding that should he decide to stay away, “It will be construed that you misled the Nigerian public with your reaction in the Punch newspapers today which has gained wide publicity in both electronic and print media. 

“This invitation is to further ensure that it is beyond reasonable doubt that the Federal Government of Nigeria has given you a fair hearing.”

The Team of the Special Investigator had in its earlier invitation to Vink, one of the foreign shareholders of TTB, requested him to avail the Special Investigator with the underlisted document/information:

i) Company registration, ownership, shareholding structure, profile, particulars of directors and related activities with regard to the two companies owned by Vink and Savara that acquired the controlling shares in Union Bank.

A) Luxis International DMCC, Dubai, UAE

B) Magna International DMCC, Dubai, UAE

It added that “further details of the said company should include the documentation that led to the licensing of Titan Trust Bank and the acquisition of controlling shareholding of the Union Bank of Nigeria by these entities, proof of funds, internationally verifiable bank statements (from inception of the entities to date) and the shareholders that gave interest-free loans to the two entities separately (names, nationality, source of the fund, proof of such funds, bank statements) as well as the relationships of the activities with Mr Andrew Chukwudi Ojei, Jerome Olagunju Shogbon, Rahul Savara, Winston Odeh, Adaeze Udensi, Ekene Samuel Louis, Godwin Emefiele, Macombe Omoile, Tunde Lemo, Mudassir Amry, Faruk Gumel, Oluremi Oni, Vink Corporation Middle East FCZ (together with the details of the shareholder that also gave Vink Corporation interest-free loan) and your good self. 

iii) Details of how Trust receipts (from Standard Chartered Bank), Zenith Nigeria Plc and Zenith Nigeria Plc and Zenith Bank (UK) was involved in the entire arrangements

iv) Minutes of the Board meetings, copy of the audited financial statements and Management letter that arose from the audit of the financial statements of the entities listed in (i) above as well as those of TTB and UBN from 2018 to date.

v) Details of any forbearance received from the Central Bank of Nigeria for UBN (before acquisition by TTB) and why. Should you not know, please, come along with anyone who knows about it (with evidence).

vi) Details of the loan capital from Afrexim Bank (Egypt), collaterals thereto and the involvement of the CBN in the entire arrangement.

vii) Any foreign exchange dealings that transacted with the CBN as retail or wholesale or facilitator with TGI, TTB, UBN, Luxis, Magna and other related entities, no matter how remotely connected.

viii) Any other document(s) that can assist the Special Investigator in arriving at an informed decision on the investigations of TTB, UBN, CBN and any other person(s) of interest in the entire arrangement.

5) You are to come along with Mr Rahul Savara (in person) along with the requested documents to the National Headquarters of the Department of State Services (DSS) in Abuja by 4pm on Friday 1st September 2023 for interaction in connection with the investigation.