No Court Order to forfeit Sales Value of Our Airtel Shares – O&O Networks Limited, Subsidiary of Ecobank Group

O&O Networks Limited, Special purpose vehicle owned by the Ecobank Group says contrary to certain media reports, there is no forfeiture order of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in its proceedings that is directed against Ecobank Transnational Incorporate (ETI) or Ecobank Nigeria Limited.
 O&O Networks Limited is defending long-standing proceedings in the Federal High Court relating to its ownership of shares in Airtel Networks Limited that were once owned by it.
The company previously owned by Oceanic Bank, formed part of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated’s (ETI) in 2011 after the acquisition of Oceanic Bank. Legal proceedings were first initiated against O&O Networks Ltd in December 2006 by Broad Communications Ltd (“plaintiff”), in the Federal High Court of Nigeria.
A statement released by O&O Networks, pointed out that there is no forfeiture order of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in these proceedings that is directed against ETI or Ecobank Nigeria Limited.
According to the statement, there have been no material legal developments in the plaintiff’s substantive claim for monetary compensation since 2017, though a trial date on the substantive merits was recently fixed for May 28, 2019.
The statement reads: “Contrary to certain press reports, there is no forfeiture order of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in these proceedings that is directed against ETI or Ecobank Nigeria Limited, and neither ETI nor Ecobank Nigeria Limited has made or is required by law to make any payment to the Federal High Court of Nigeria in relation to this long-standing litigation. There have been no material legal developments in the plaintiff’s substantive claim for monetary compensation since 2017.
“In 2006, the plaintiff’s claim was grounded  on an alleged right of first refusal over shares in Airtel Networks Limited that O&O Networks owned.  The plaintiff claimed ownership of the Airtel shares based on its right of first refusal. In 2017, the plaintiff amended its claim to seek monetary compensation of USD equivalent of Naira 10 billion (approximately US$28 million) in place of its claim of ownership of the Airtel share.
” Since the matter was filed in 2006, it has not proceeded to trial on the substantive merits of the claim to date though a trial date on the substantive merits was recently fixed for May 28, 2019
“In August 2018, O & O Networks sold its shares in Airtel Networks Limited for Naira 22.5 billion (approximately US$62.5 million) with the permission of the Federal High Court on 7 June 2018 and subsequently in September 2018, the plaintiff filed an interlocutory application requesting the Federal High Court of Nigeria to grant an order directing O&O Networks to place Naira 22.5 billion (approximately US$62 million) – the entire proceeds of the sale of the Airtel shares and an amount which is significantly in excess of the plaintiff’s total monetary claim – into an escrow account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the court, pending the final determination of the substantive claim.  The Federal High Court of Nigeria granted the plaintiff’s interlocutory application on 7 March, 2019.
“O&O Networks has filed a notice of appeal and an application for stay of execution to this ruling. O&O Network’s appeal to the interlocutory order is currently pending, and it intends to prosecute the appeal vigorously.
Major General Umaru Mohammed Is A Bad Debtor; Trying To Arm-Twist Ecobank

The court case instituted against Ecobank by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) involving Major General Umaru Mohammed is best described as that of a recalcitrant debtor trying to avoid the debt he owes the bank. The bank is advised to pursue the case to its logical conclusion.
 This was the position of an ex-banker who pleaded anonymity. He said the indebtedness arose from a Mastercard Credit Card Major General Umaru Mohammed obtained from the Bank with an outstanding debt of over Nine Million Naira to the bank.
He stated that “Major General Umaru Mohammed was indeed indebted to the Bank and only decided to retract paying his debt recently upon an upsurge in recovery activities on unpaid account. The ex-Banker queried why General Umaru did he not act since 2013 when he discovered the said alleged fraud on his account.”
The EFCC had Thursday March 7th, arraigned the Bank and its ex-staff, Aniekan Udoh for “negligently failing to exercise due diligence in relation to the conduct of financial transactions with Major General Mohammed.” The defendants pleaded not guilty.
The ex-banker who is privy to the transaction and have been following the case maintained that Ecobank is a financial institution in the business of taking deposits and lending money to the public and the issue at stake is purely a banker -customer relationship matter with no crime or intent to commit crime whatsoever.
According to him, Major General Mohammed appears to be using the court process to evade his obligations to the bank. He further said “everybody privy to the history of the case is surprised that the debtor could resort to legal ambush method.”  He does not believe however that his tactic will be successful given the antecedent of the Bank in recovering all unpaid debts in a bid to safeguard depositors fund.
He noted that Ecobank Nigeria is one of the banks strictly guided by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rules and Code of Conduct guiding financial institutions in its day to day operations, stressing that in dealing with customers, the bank believes in equity and fairness. “Ecobank is an ethical bank that carries out its business in compliance with global best practices. The court I am sure will do  justice in this matter. People should not use their position to avoid paying their debt”.
At Tuesday’s hearing, the Lawyer representing Ecobank, Emuobonuvie Majemite of Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors, maintained that the Bank will pursue the case to its logical conclusion to ensure justice.
Ecobank to Collaborate With CIBN on Financial Inclusion, Capacity Building

Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan  has reiterated the need for collaboration between the Bank and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) on financial inclusion and capacity building with a view to moving the industry forward. 

 

Akinwuntan, who was speaking against the backdrop of Ecobank’s giant strides in the digital banking space during CIBN stakeholder’s engagement with the Bank in Lagos, noted that partnership with the Institute would further boost the financial strategy of the industry regulators.

 

 According to him, Ecobank will continue to leverage its digital banking in a sustainable manner to bring banking services to every household in Nigeria. He added  that the bank is at the forefront of providing mobile payment solutions in n the country.  “Ecobank through our various innovative digital payments and collections is attracting many unbanked and under-bank in the country to the financial landscape. Further collaboration with such a notable organisation as the CIBN will further boost the financial inclusiveness the regulators are pushing,” he said.

 

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He took the stakeholders through the various digital payment solutions such as RapidTransfer, EcobankPay, QR Technology, EcobankPay zones, Xpress Account and Mobile Payment, among others, stressing that apart from stress-free transactions, the product and services was boosting business and economic activities across the country and the Africa continent. He disclosed that the Bank has concluded plans to commission 50 EcobankPay zones across the country within the next six months to boost transactions in market clusters.

 

In his comment, the President and Chairman Of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Dr. Uche Olowu commended Ecobank’s strategies at attracting the unbanked and under-banked in the country through its various digital offerings. He affirmed that Ecobank’s recent activities across various markets clusters are a major boost to the regulators financial inclusion policy.

 

Dr Uche Olowu alluded to the various digital payment solutions that bank currently parades. He noted that apart from stress-free transactions process enjoyed with these digital products, they are fast boosting business and economic activities across the markets.  In his words, the CIBN President said: “We commend the bank on its promotion of digital banking and payments through its various platforms which have won it many awards. This is certainly the way to go. And, we also appreciate your support to the Institute’s activities and programmes.”  

In closing, Dr Olowu said the institute is collaborating with banks, that includes Ecobank to promote capacity building, ethics and professionalism in the sector. According to him “your activities in developing the industry aligns with the Institutes’ new leadership strategic areas which include; skills and competency, ethics and professionalism, research and advocacy.  We facilitate registration and enrolment of members of staff for professional banking examinations and other certification programmes. We enable the registration of senior executives of the banks on the Chartered Banker MBA Programme (An international fast tract/flexible route to becoming a chartered banker). There are many things we can do together to move the banking industry forward.”

Alleged Fraud: Ecobank Turns in Former Manager; Court Remands Him in prison

A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has ordered the remand of Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike, a former manager of Ecobank Nigeria, over allegations of defrauding the bank’s customers to the tune of N411million.

Azike, who was handed over to the police by the investigative unit of the bank was arraigned before Justice Ayotunde Faji on Tuesday, by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force on a three-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretenses, false representation and fraud. The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge upon his arraignment.

Following his plea of not guilty, police prosecutor, ASP Daniel Apochi urged the court to remand him in prison pending trial. Consequently, Justice Faji ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison till 8th of March, 2019 when his bail application would be heard. In a charge marked, FHC/L/56c/2019, the police alleged that between 2016 and 2017, Azike fraudulently obtained N150 million from a customer of Ecobank Nigeria under false pretence of buying him Federal Government Treasury Bill in his bank.

Azike was also alleged to have forged the bank customer’s signature, picture and letter of Instruction which he used in opening another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin with account number: 5333063028. The police also alleged that the bank manager without the consent of the bank fraudulently converted the sum of N411 million belonging to the bank to his personal use.

The offenses were said to be contrary to Sections 1 (1) (a), 15(1)(2) and 15(2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud related Offence Act No. 14 of 2006, and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

Nigerians’ Remittances 100 % Sure Through RapidTransfer App – Ecobank MD

  

Image result for Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan

Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Ainwuntan has said the bank’s decision to charge zero fee of (on) RapidTransfer remittances is borne out of the need to ensure Nigerians abroad are able to send home 100 percent of monies made through hard work. According to him,” “Because we are able to do it per scale and because we know that when Nigerians work abroad, close to 7 per cent to 8 per cent of their sweat is taken as commission when they are sending money home, we decided to make the cost of sending money home free. We want 100 per cent of the money made through the sweat and hard work of Nigerians, find its way back to Nigeria, to support and develop our economy in Nigeria. This is why we made the RapidTransfer charges zero.”

The Ecobank Nigeria Managing Director, who was speaking during round table meeting with the media in Lagos noted that“any Nigerian in the Diaspora can download the Ecobank RapidTransfer App from any of the stores, attach his or her card, say in Canada, UK or US and remit $50, $30, £30, £25 or £100 instantly to a recipient in Nigeria. The recipient could have a bank account in Ecobank or any other bank in Nigeria”.

He affirmed that Ecobank leverages on the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), which he said has done a great job in bringing a common settlement platform for all the banks in Nigeria. “ The payment will get to the account of other receiving bank, because Ecobank has put together a global App available for all Nigerians globally to be able to send money home,” stressing that “we offer best exchange rate available. If your relative or friend does that transfer from Canada or Paris today you will get an equivalent of N360 to a dollar instantly at no charge to the sender. So, the entire money made by your relation or your friend or yourself abroad finds its way back to Nigeria to support Nigerians back home, which is why most relations go to work abroad,” he said.

Ecobank Start Promo of #CashlessNigeria drive with EcobankPayZones

It was an exciting weekend as Ecobank staff stormed markets across the country to bring easy and convenient banking services to Nigerians, especially businesses, and more possibilities for growth.  EcobankPay and Xpress Point were stars of the storm, which form a critical part of our digital offering, aimed at boosting Nigeria and Africa’s digital economy.

 

“We will not rest until we serve you better. #EcobankPay and #XpressPoint buzzing in Alaba, Badore, Victoria Island, Abuja, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Kano, Ibadan, Osun, Kwara, Akwa-Ibom joining 32 other countries in Africa. We are determined to support the building of a better Africa.  #EcobankOn for a #CashlessNigeria”  said Ecobank Nigeria Managing Director, Patrick Akinwuntan on twitter this past Saturday https://twitter.com/PAkinwuntan/status/1086617122598457349

 

 Leading product for the storm was EcobankPay, which allows businesses/individuals to receive instant payment into their accounts when Ecobank and non-Ecobank customers scan their QR Code or use their terminal ID on USSD for goods and services.   All that is needed is a phone for both the customer and the merchant, allowing them to receive payments anytime, anywhere unlike POS or cash, therefore making doing business easier and more convenient.  EcobankPay is the only product in the market allowing merchants to receive mCash, mVISA and MasterPass payments thus simplifying business for merchant, who no longer need to manage accounts across financial institutions for various payment channels as interoperability lowers cost and QR code removes need of having a point of sale (PoS).   Xpress Point was also part of the drive, which allows customers to digitize or liquidate their cash by depositing and withdrawing cash closer to home using their phone anywhere they see Ecobank Xpress Point sign.  

 

By offering EcobankPay and XpressPoint services, Nigerian businesses save time and money spent in collecting, counting, securing and banking cash bringing cost savings to their business, and more importantly, in the near future their cashflow shall allow them access to other financial services such as loans, insurance and more to grow their business.  We hope more businesses can join the #CashlessNigeria initiative by offering their customers simpler payments and digitization of cash.   

“We will relentlessly work to bring our digital to every household and make money management moreeasy, reliable and fast.  Ecobank offers a wide range of digital financial services for businesses – from straight-forward cash management to payment tools that capture their turnover securely, which come with e-Alerts of debits and credits on your account sent by push notiffications, SMS and email,” said Ayo Olaiya, Head of Transaction Services Group, Ecobank Nigeria.

 

Ecobank Market storm continues across the country every Tuesday and Saturday, we look forward to seeing and bringing you on this journey.