The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Saturday hauled in two more big fishes from the troubled waters of the five dirty banks. John Maha, the Managing Director of Afribank Securities was lured out of hiding while Niyi Opeodu, Managing Director of Union Capital Markets was arrested from his Lekki residence, in Lagos.
This is just as one of the flamboyant billionaires in the country (names withheld) has sold his hotel at a give-away price to ensure that he was not caught napping at the end of the day.
Our source disclosed that the billionaire owes one of the banks over N14 billion, but did not say how much the hotel was sold.
Recalcitrant debtor, James Ibori & his partner in crime Dodgy Cecilia Ibru
"This hotel is not your run-of-the-mill hotels. It is a very big one largely used by expatriates and oil industry employees. Because of the huge embarrassment an EFCC arrest could cause his reputation, the man has decided to let the hotel go, believing that he who fights and runs away would live to fight another day. I am not sure how much he sold it, but the buyer could not have paid the actual worth of the property", the source told our reporter.
Also, one of the debtors of Oceanic Bank and chairman of the Dangote Group of Companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, paid a whopping sum of N3.1 billion to the bank on Thursday.
Confirming the payment on Friday, acting Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Mr Joseph Ajewole, said the bank has recorded giant strides in debt recovery.
He said: "A lot of the delinquent debtors have reached us. Many have paid substantial amounts while others have come forward to discuss with us about their plans to repay."
As the seven-day ultimatum given to the debtors of the five troubled banks draws near, some of them have started selling their assets to recover the money to pay up before the ultimatum expires. It was not clear on Friday how the debtors raised the funds to offset the debts, but Sunday Sun learnt that most of them are selling their choice property in choice locations in Abuja and Lagos to enable them beat the Wednesday deadline by the EFCC for them to pay up.
So far, about N18 billion has been recovered from debtors of the five distressed banks, whose management and managing directors were sacked by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, penultimate Friday.
Sunday Sun gathered at the weekend that Intercontinental Bank Plc has so far recovered N4.8 billion while Afribank Plc has recovered N3 billion. Others are Oceanic Bank Plc N4.5 billion and Union Bank about N6 billion.
Meanwhile, Mr. Femi Babafemi, the anti-corruption agency’s spokesman, told Sunday Sun that John Maha had been playing hide-and-seek with the agency for six days before the long arms of EFCC reeled him in at the weekend.
"The EFCC had been on his trail since Monday, but each time we got closer he changed location. We decided to use other operational tactics to lure him out of his nest to a place where our operatives were waiting for him."
Babafemi also disclosed that both Maha and Opeodu had been fingered in further allegations of book cooking, setting up fake companies to process out loans that are not repaid.
With few days to the EFCC deadline for bank debtors to pay what they owed the banks or go to jail, highly placed sources at the Commission told Sunday Sun that at the expiration of the deadline, every defaulter would become the guest of EFCC.
"We are prepared for the task ahead and nobody should delude himself that he or she is too big to be arrested by the EFCC. The Chairman has given express instruction that all and anybody who does not do the honourable thing by Tuesday should be brought in. We have enough space for all of them.
"Some of those already arrested will be arraigned and taken to prison to make room for new ‘intakes’, the source assured.
Sunday Sun also learnt that bank CEOs that have so far refused to show up at EFCC risked being declared wanted. "It is a shame really that these people Nigeria once trusted with their hard-earned money are unwilling to submit themselves to the law. After receiving awards from everywhere, they are now on the run. We know what to do and it is in their interest to submit to EFCC instead of waiting until after they are become fugitives from the law. We are closing in on them and whether they stay in Nigeria or escape abroad, we believe it would really be a shame if a former bank chief executive’s face and photo is displayed as one of the ‘wanted men’ in the same newspapers and television screens that once carried their awards", our source said.
The EFCC source went on to say that one of the CEOs on the run would most likely surrender as her pastor and church are seriously persuading her to save herself and the church the embarrassment of being declared wanted.
"The CEO in question is a member of a big Pentecostal church and her quite respectable General Overseer and elders are persuading her to come out of hiding.
The anti-graft agency decided to take the tough stance because, according to it, there is urgency in salvaging the banking industry from economic strangulation orchestrated by the heavy debt burdens on the banks.
The debtors, who include the who-is-who in business and political circles in Nigeria, are together owing the five distressed banks about N747 billion.
The EFCC, according to its chairman, Mrs Farida Waziri, will enforce Section 42 of the Establishment Act 2004, which states that "any offence committed or proceedings instituted before the commencement of this Act under the provisions of the(a) miscellaneous Offences Act (b) the Banks and Other Financial institutions Act 1991 as amended; (c) Failed Banks ( Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, as amended (d) the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act (e), the Money Laundry Act or any other law or regulation relating to Economic and Financial Crimes, shall as the case may be, required to be enforced or continued to be enforced by the commission."
The CBN had, on Thursday, published the list of debtors (both institutions and individuals) who secured the loans worth over N747 billion from the five banks. It included names such as Alhaji Musa Bashir, Bashir Adamu, Abba Dasuki, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, Chudi Ajaegbu and Chiamaka Ajaegbu; Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola and a host of others.( Culled from the sun)