Cecilia Ibru booted from Economist Conference

•August 17, 2009 • 1 Comment

Cecilia Ibru was scheduled to speak at the CEO Agenda Nigeria, an elite event packaged by The Economist. However, it appears that the organizers have quietly removed her name from the list of speakers. Dayo Coker will soon reveal how “Mummy” Cecilia, and her son Oboden collaborated with the Ibru clan to push Oceanic Bank to the brink.

Erastus lent 250 Billion to Associates

•August 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

BusinessDay reports that Erastus Akingbola, former CEO of Intercontinental bank may have lent 250 Billion to friends and associates without following laid down regulations.

Aribisala Indicts His Bosses

•August 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Chief Ajibola Aribisala, Intercontinental Bank’s debt recovery agent and owner of Protea Hotel Kuramo Waters gave an interview to BusinessDay today where he accused banks of financial recklessness. This amazing u-turn comes less than one week after he published a controversial advert in The Guardian blaming the bank’s woes on a powerful “cabal”. Time flies.

Read the article here:

http://businessdayonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4519:how-over-ambition-weak-regulation-wrecked-banks&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=18

Erastus and Cecilia Spotted at The Camp

•August 16, 2009 • 3 Comments

The Sunday Punch reported that Cecilia Ibru and Erastus Akingbola were spotted at the Redeemed Camp praying and speaking in tongues. Special seats had been reserved for them in the front row. I hope that they did not divert the bank’s money to Adeboye’s Private Jet fund.

The Fall of Erastus Akingbola

•August 14, 2009 • 6 Comments

The fall of Erastus Akingbola
A Short History

The chickens have come home to roost. After years of bad management and dubious financial practices, the head honcho of Intercontinental Bank Plc has been sacked. This should not come as a surprise to readers of my blog. Five months ago, I pointed out Intercontinental Bank’s precarious state in a series of articles questioning the competence of its chief executive, Dr Erastus Akingbola. In these articles, I asked the bank to reveal its true financial state in the spirit of full disclosure.

After the publication of these articles, I was inundated with questions from journalists, executives and members of the public. While some of them denounced me as an agent of an imaginary northern cabal that was intent on taking over the banking sector by creating an unstable atmosphere, a majority of readers thanked me for the expose and encouraged me to continue with my investigations. My persistence paid off when the European Investment Bank exposed some of Intercontinental Bank’s bogus claims. I released my findings to the mainstream media who curiously decided not to further pursue the matter although their pages were suddenly filled with advertisements from the financial institution.
 
Rather than address the issues raised by several notable pundits including the respected eggheads at Proshare, Dr Akingbola proceeded to the tabloid press where he gave interviews to City People and other magazines. He also launched a smear campaign against Sanusi Aminu Lamido Sanusi, then the chief executive officer of First Bank. This wide reaching campaign claimed that Mr Sanusi was “de-marketing” Intercontinental Bank in order to increase his chances of being made the governor of the Central Bank.
 
 
In addition, the bank purportedly showed its books to Renaissance Capital whose resident analyst Kato Mukuru affirmed that it was strong enough to manage its risk. Renaissance Capital was wrong. Its PR supremo Matthew Pearson has already started a damage control exercise by trying to limit the damage wrought by his firm’s irresponsible analysts. But then Renaissance Capital is a dubious research firm backed by Russian oligarch money. Its chief executive, Stephen Jennings sees Africa as the next big thing and is happy to continue praising Nigerian banks as long as they steer their securities business to his other firms. This scenario has repeated itself time and time again in developed economies where analysts tout stocks backed by their employers in order to get profitable deals. That report should have been thrown into the trash but the gullible Nigerian press swallowed it hook, line and sinker.
 
Recent Developments
 
On Wednesday, August 12, 2009, Intercontinental Bank commissioned an advertisement in The Guardian where it appealed to the President and released an abridged version of a list of purported debtors. The list which was released by A.O.S Practice, its loan recovery agents, included three popular petroleum marketing firms Rahamaniyya, Capital Oil and Tanzila Petroleum. Their respective promoters, Alhaji Abdulrahaman Bashir, Patrick Ubah and Alhaji Shehu Badamasi were also named. To put it mildly, the advertisement was ill advised and stupid. A few bankers who agreed to speak to me yesterday unanimously agreed that Intercontinental Bank was trying to undermine the CBN and prepare the public for a huge bad loan provision in its financial statements.
 
Intercontinental bank issued a denial on Friday, August 14, 2009. This is a matter that the NBA should look into as one of the parties must be lying. If the bank did not authorize the publication, then the lawyer, Chief Ajibola Aribisala must be disbarred for acting contrary to his client’s instructions. But since Intercontinental Bank still retains the firm as its loan recovery agent, it is obvious that the two firms were acting in concert. The first statement of the advertorial reads: “We are the Solicitors to Intercontinental Bank Plc., hereinafter referred to as “Our Client” in respect and on behalf of whom we have instructions to write to your esteemed office.” In my opinion, there is no ambiguity in this sentence.
 
The advertisement then goes on to classify the Nigerian banking sector into two groups; those devoted to the growth of Nigerian industry and those acting on behalf of foreign-based institutions. In his inimitable Yoruba-influenced English, Aribisala then goes on to say that Intercontinental Bank belongs to the former group. According to him, “By using its broad financial base, our client as with other banks of its ilk, have patriotically oiled the wheels of wholly Nigerian owned manufacturing entities, production companies and investments corporations with the allocation of the needed finance to such businesses and companies ostensibly driven by persons perceived to be (sic) immense integrity.” He argues that it is wrong to classify Intercontinental Bank as risk-prone while other less patriotic banks are being recognized for their financial prudence. Aribisala ends this rambling preamble by suggesting that there is a cabal of influential people who are bent on destroying the banking sector by defaulting on huge credit facilities.
 
 
However the most curious part of the advertisement is the complaint which Intercontinental Bank presents to the president. It says that it does not have a “preponderance of bad loans” on its books but has been held hostage by an influential cabal whose members have saddled with non-performing loans. What is the meaning of this dumb statement? Mr Aribisala who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria then shockingly condemns the Nigerian legal system which has made him wealthy enough to acquire the Protea Hotel Kuramo Waters, Victoria Island.
 
The lawyer also asks the government to amend the legislation covering financial crimes in order to strengthen the system. If he is really serious about such reforms, then Erastus Akingbola should end up in jail for his role in plundering shareholder funds. The timing of this letter is highly suspicious. For instance, the Tanzila Petroleum case was reported well before Sanusi became the CBN Governor. Why didn’t Intercontinental Bank write to the president then? Why start this media campaign now?
 
Opinion and Analysis
 
Intercontinental Bank is an institution built on quicksand. Its top executives have never felt the need to instill a culture of ethics and good corporate governance. Buoyed by soaring oil prices and a bubble stock market, they invested heavily in high risk sectors such as downstream oil marketing and margin trading. Now that the house of cards has collapsed, Intercontinental Bank is trying to shift the blame to businessmen and a convoluted legal system. Alhaji Shehu Badamasi’s case is a good example. The oil and gas man used 600,000 shares of a small insurance company to borrow 17 billion naira from the bank and then used the money to buy luxury houses. What sort of bankers would sign off on such a glaring case of diversion?
 
 
Dr Akingbola is the Madoff of Nigerian banking, a crook who brazenly diverted funds to his wife’s companies while emasculating all his top management executives. He hides behind the cloak of religiosity using his “Christian” carapace to fool members of the public. He has decimated an institution by refusing to hire competent managers and allowing parochial ethnic and religious considerations to influence key judgements. Even junior staffers of the bank are taught that the bank is built on Jesus and cannot be “pulled down” by detractors. This sort of shallow thinking encourages sloth and inefficiency. How can managers be effective when they are not held accountable for their actions?
 
Intercontinental Bank’s argument that a cabal is trying to destroying the financial sector holds no water. If a “smaller” bank like AccessBank could force African Petroleum, an energy behemoth, to meet its obligations, what prevents Intercontinental Bank from using the same means unless its people have dirty secrets? The bank is at war with nearly all its clients in the energy trading sector as a result of its sharp practices. These firms know that they have the bank over a barrel and will continue to use this as a bargaining tactic. The bank’s venture into real estate has also been a failure as the economic meltdown has cooled the market for luxury houses. 
 
Erastus Akingbola’s foray into downstream marketing had less to do with patriotism and more to with good old lucre. The bank’s bosses saw the sector as an easy way to exploit oil traders by charging abnormal management charges and “upfront” interest. Since most of these marketers were swashbuckling cowboys who desperately needed these loans to finance imports, they did not bother to contest the loansharking habits of the bank. There is a lack of accountability and transparency in Intercontinental Bank. Intercontinental Bank also borrowed heavily from foreign financial institutions and regular loan repayments have exacted a heavy toll on its balance sheet.
 
During his days at the helm of First Bank, Mr Sanusi said something very important when the he spoke to the Financial Times. He explained that the size of a bank was secondary to its ability to manage risk. This ideology explains why some banks have been able to weather the storm in spite of their huge loan portfolios. GTBank, for instance, recently gave a 50M dollar loan to AMNI International and was part of the consortium that financed a recent Lafarge WAPCO project. What project has Intercontinental Bank financed this year? Instead, Dr Akingbola has been on a nationwide tour lobbying Northern traditional rulers to put pressure on Sanusi L. Sanusi. In the past three months, he has visited countless emirs, the Sultan and northern governors.
 
In spite of the bank’s professed patriotism, the bank has done nothing with the 100 million dollar loan that it got from the African Development Bank. Instead, Intercontinental Bank keeps making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The bank was named in the controversial Gbenga Daniel affair where a lowly cook had 400 million transferred into his account. It was also named as one of the underwriters that refused to meet their obligations to African Petroleum’s public offer.
 
The End of Erastus Akingbola’s banking career.
 
Sanusi has done the right thing by dismissing Erastus Akingbola and his fellow travellers in the banking industry. We can no longer allow ourselves to get sentimental over matters of such importance.
 
 
Thank you for your time.
 
 
 
Dayo Coker.
Blogger and Policy Analyst
dayocoker@gmail.com

Fidelis Anosike and the fraud at Daily Times

•August 10, 2009 • 1 Comment

In 1995, a young, brash graphic designer came from nowhere to take over the assets of the Times, formerly the crown jewel of Nigerian journalism. At the time of the acquisition, the publishing house was in dire straits after years of mismanagement by successive government-backed boards. Mr Anosike’s controversial billion naira takeover was in line with the privatization creed of the Obasanjo administration which believed that the private sector would be more adept at managing government-owned companies.

Mr Anosike’s ultimately won the battle for the marquee brand after a protracted legal battle involving the defunct Hallmark Bank; its financial backers who had tried to wind up the company after Anosike defaulted on a loan agreement. Mr Anosike eventually settled the rift and assumed control of one of Nigeria’s most powerful publishing brands.

A consummate showman and social climber, two of his first employees were Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, a This Day columnist and Nike Oshinowo, a former beauty queen. He placed the duo on huge salaries while employees were owed a backlog of salaries. Today, the company is in ruins in spite of several attempts to reclaim its previous market dominance. In spite of a management deal with renowned consulting firm, PwC and the recruitment of Mr Stanley Egbochukwu, a respected journalist as MD, its titles have been unable to stay on the newsstands.

What is responsible for the company’s lingering problems?

Dayo Coker caught up with the firm’s South African former COO, Monwabisi Allen Nkomentaba who agreed to answer his questions.

Read the EXCLUSIVE interview.

Dayo: What’s happening to Daily Times of Nigeria?

Monwabisi: I was employed by Folio Holdings as the Head of Strategy and later as COO after Mr Stanley Egbochukwu resigned for obvious management related reasons after several misunderstandings with Fidelis Anosike. The chairman made me the COO of Daily Times and used me to get funding from investment banks. But these funds never made it to the company as he used them to fund his extravagant lifestyle.

To cut the long story short, Fidelis Anosike chops and changes managers after exploiting them. I am a living testimony to that. His abusive behaviour cannot be tolerated by any sober qualified professional. For me it was almost surreal as I come from South Africa where workers rights are enshrined in the constitution. During my time at Folio, I watched Mr Anosike treat Mr Stanley, the former Daily Times and BusinessDay Editor-In-Chief as a “garden boy” and I resolved that it would never happen to me. When he ultimately attempted to subject me to the same treatment, I boarded the next flight to South Africa.

Dayo: I understand that firm has been mismanaged by Mr Anosike and that employees have been owed salaries for several months.

Monwabisi: Well, he owes me two months’ salary. Regarding the issue of salaries, it is plain that the man is evil. He obtains loans under the pretext of paying salaries but once the company account is credited, he returns to his ostentatious lifestyle while staffers go unpaid. I will never forget the time in December 2008 when employees went without salaries not only for the Christmas period but for up to 7 months in some cases.

I would like you to ensure that the EFCC investigates the entire Folio Holdings and DTN Financial statements. The company’s assets have being stripped by Anosike and it is important to unearth how the money was stolen. I am questioning the ENTIRE sale of Daily Times of Nigeria to Folio Holdings.

Some of the practices I observed at the firm are:

Huge debts to creditors, hotels and other sundry contractors.

Illegal alteration of contracts of employment reducing salaries and benefits.

Nonpayment of staff salaries

No governance structure. He is everything, Board, Director, Publisher etc

No investment in the business.

Indiscriminate selling of DTN property

Abuse of staff

The Nigerian government has to do something about this.

During Monwabisi’s time as COO, the South African dispatched a memo to Mr Anosike suggesting ways to save the company from its descent into financial ruin.

This document is available on request from Ms Yeside Solanke, who can be reached on yesolanke@gmail.com.

Issued by
Dayo Coker,
Investigative Blogger and Public Affairs Analyst

Jomo Gbomo Denies Amnesty Deal

•August 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment
As the hours of the August 6, 2009 Federal Government of Nigeria’s amnesty offer draw near, it is important to clarify certain insinuations as well as set the facts straight to counter propagandists and rumour mongers.
It is true that Boyloaf who is a MEND commander in Bayelsa state has expressed a desire to return to civilian life and as such he is in Abuja in furtherance of his personal pursuits. Already, a replacement has been effected to take over his command.
Boyloaf is not acting on behalf of MEND which is already in consultations with the Presidential Special Adviser on Niger Delta, Mr Timi Alaibe.
The outcome of these negotiations will determine MEND’s approach to the governments offer.
We deny speculations that Farah Dagogo, our commander in the Eastern Delta is in Abuja for the same purpose as Boyloaf.
Henry Okah will not be leading the Boyloaf led bunch into any kind of talks that will  focus on monetary negotiations rather than address the root issues that has led to the Niger Delta unrest.
MEND denies any involvement in a cash for arms deal which we condemn in very strong terms.
When we choose to disarm, it will be done freely; knowing that the reason for our uprising which is the emancipation of the Niger Delta from neglect and injustice has been achieved.
Jomo Gbomo