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Obazee Report: CBN wields the big stick, sacks boards of Titan Trust, Union, Keystone, Polaris Bank

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.Nigerians in Diaspora raise $24bn to alleviate poverty in Nigeria –Sen Umeh

.Blasts FG for starving NIDCON of funds

Comfort Ekeleme

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has with immediate effect sacked the boards and management teams of Titan Trust Bank, Keystone Bank, Union Bank and Polaris Bank.

According to a CBN source, the decision was taken in a meeting led by the apex bank’s governor, Yemi Cardoso, on Wednesday in Abuja.

The source who pleaded anonymity, disclosed that an official statement dissolving the board of directors will be sent shortly.

The source said, “In the next hour, there is going to be official communication from the bank. We are working on it and an official statement will be sent soon.”

The decision, Daily Champion learnt followed a report submitted to President Bola Tinubu by the Special Investigator on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and related entities, Jim Obazee.

The decision to dissolve the boards was taken after a meeting between the CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso, Obazee, and the boards of the four banks including Titan Trust Bank’s investors who had earlier avoided meeting with the Special Investigator.

 

In December 2023, the office of the Special Investigator had insisted that the Chairman of Titan Trust Bank (TTB), Tunde Lemo, Cornelius Vink, and Rahul Savara, must appear before it over the acquisition of the Union Bank of Nigeria.

 

The Special Investigator who had summoned Lemo, who is also a former deputy governor of the CBN, rejected Lemo’s request for an extension of time for shareholders to prove their ownership of Titan Trust Bank.

 

Obazee insisted that Lemo and others summoned in a December 24 letter must appear to prove that their acquisition of Union Bank followed due process.

 

It noted that they risked losing the financial institution to the Nigerian government.

 

In a letter dated December 24, 2023, signed by the Head of Operations, Office of the Special Investigator, DCP Eloho Okpoziakpo, the Special CBN Investigator directed Lemo to report at the Department of Force Intelligence, opposite the Force headquarters, Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja on Thursday, December 28, 2023.

 

 

According to the letter, Babatunde who was expected to be questioned over the UBN acquisition, was instructed to come along with the promoters of Titan Trust Bank, Mr Vink and Mr Savara, to meet with the team of special Investigators.

 

The letter directed all the summoned persons to “come along with all the documents/information requested from them by the letter to Mr Cornelius Vink dated 28th August 2023 (attached herewith as Appendix 1).

 

“You will also be required to make additional statements to your earlier statement on that day.

 

“Kindly note that if Messrs Cornelius Vink and Rahul Savara refuse to attend this meeting and provide/defend the requested documents/information, it will be construed that they 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,” the letter reads.

In another development, Chairman, Senate Committee on  Diaspora,Sen. Victor Umeh, has revealed that Nigerians in Diaspora  remit  an estimated sum of $24billion to Federal government to alleviate poverty in Nigeria annually.

 

This is even as he has accused the Federal government of  starving Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCON) of funds to discharge it’s responsibility to Nigerians living in foreign lands.

 

Speaking in an exclusive interview with our correspondent in Abuja, Sen Umeh lamented that despite the enormous contributions of Nigerians in Diaspora to assist  the federal government in the fight against poverty in the country, government pays lip service to  NIDCON that is charged with handling issues that affect the wellbeing of  Nigerians in Diaspora.

 

“Well, I am very happy that the chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation has acknowledged the fact that Nigerians in Diaspora Commission is poorly funded.

 

“Looking at what Nigerians in Diaspora are doing in contributing to the country’s development, you would see that allocating such paltry sum of money in one year to them is very non responsive to the needs of that commission.

 

“In 2022 alone Nigerians in Diaspora made remittances to Nigeria totalling about $24billion.

If you check what it is in our local currency, it’s a lot of inflow into this country and those who generate this money from outside Nigeria have various needs and challenges and these things come under the supervisory function of Nigerians Diaspora Commission.”

 

Continuing he said,”Wherever they are threatened, beaten or killed, it is the NIDCON that will be on hand to check and cross check what has gone wrong and they have no money to do that.

 

“So, people who contribute $24billion to the Nigeria foreign exchange inflow and you don’t have up to $1billion for example, to look after their welfare, it shows that they are being ignored. Apart from that, we discovered that Nigerians are doing very well globally.

 

“In most times, when you hear about Diaspora, people think about those who are involved in petty crimes here and there.

There are Nigerians who are holding very high positions in very huge corporation in America, in Europe, in Asia etc .

Some of these personalities are occupying positions such as Vice President of a country, Executive Director etc they are Nigerians and they are in their comfort zones, the only thing they do is that they remit money to their relations in Nigeria to be able to cushion the effect of hardship on them.

If you aggravate it in one year, it translates to $24billion.

 

“So, what about those people who generate this money, can’t we bring them closer to the government of Nigeria. Some of them we have found out are in top technical Institutions abroad in America in healthcare, in Agriculture, in Energy generation and in sundry services.

 

“So, we should be able to bring them nearer to Nigeria and get them to invest in Nigeria.”

 

The Lawmaker advised the Tinubu led APC government to harness the economic potentials of Nigerians in Diaspora in his economic drive to lift Nigeria out of poverty.

 

“That calls for the need to have a Diaspora Investment Summit. Outside Nigeria we had one just a month ago in Abuja here but those people you are looking for were not there. Nigerians that are in top places globally who can assist the government of Nigeria weren’t in the Summit.

 

“They are very busy people over there if we have Diaspora Investment Summit by Nigerian government say in America, in Canada, in the UK, anywhere in Europe, in Malaysia, in China for example, in India or South Africa you would be able to bring these people to a closer Round Table chat they will know the opportunities we have in Nigeria.

This is the way to get them.

 

‘We also have a program for Diaspora Data mapping so as to know where Nigerians are living. Nigerians are so many in millions scattered all over the world. There is a need to document where they are. How many of the are in America, how many of them are in Canada, what do they do. How many of the are in major countries in Europe, what do they do.

 

“This because with such data you would be able to bring them closer to Nigerian government and if government tries it, year alone you may be targeting invests into Nigeria through this important Nigerians in theses corporations abroad.

 

” They will come home and invest. So, ignoring the NIDCON is misplaced. There is no way that  commission can engage in international travels with N28million in a year. Even local travels here, they can’t,” Umeh noted.

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