…Insists Buhari’s family has no shares in 2 firms

  • …Wants party, others to verify ownership structure at CAC.

Due to incessant allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that President Muhammadu Buhari’s family has ownership of shares in the Etisalat Nigeria and Keystone Bank, a group of investors in Lagos State, under the leadership of Mr. Michael Akekehgon, has condemned the claim, saying sale of both institutions followed due processes with the involvements of industry’s regulators. For instance, after about a year of back and forth struggle, process of selecting a preferred bidder for the sale of 9Mobile, formerly Etisalat, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) jointly, in their roles as regulators, opted for an innovative approach to deal with a distressed company – 9mobile operated by Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services Limited (EMTS) which its predecessor, Mubadala Group, Etisalat International brand pulled out of the country due to massive debt. Speaking further, the serial investor, Mr. Akekehgon told The Daily Times that the CBN in collaboration with the NCC, had in July 2017 appointed a Board of Directors chaired by Dr. Joseph Nnanna, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, to oversee the affairs of the company pending the completion of regulatory due diligence of the bid documents submitted by Teleology and sixteen others for its acquisition. He explained that Barclays Africa superintended the bid process, adding that there was no way the sale process could have been doctored as claimed by the PDP, because the entire procedures were open and plain, hence, the emergence of Teleology Nigeria Limited, who has since completed payment of $301 million to acquire 9Mobile. He, however, advised the aggrieved persons, group or political parties to approach appropriate agencies to verify their claims. “Whoever that is in doubt of the ownership structure of both Etisalat and Keystone Bank, have the liberty to verify his or her claim at the CAC. “In fact, the last payment of $251.1 million to complete the total sum of $301 million to perfect the full takeover of the mobile network operator was sourced from Afreximbank,” he said. The new owner of 9mobile had said: “Teleology is pleased to announce the constitution of a new Board of Directors for Nigeria’s multi-award-winning telecommunication company, 9mobile, following the successful completion of the tenure of the former Board appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and in fulfillment of the consequential transfer of final ownership to the new investors, Teleology Nigeria Limited.” “We thank all out-going members of the Board for helping to shepherd 9mobile through the critical transition phase it has passed through since July 2017 and wishes them the very best in their future assignments. “For us, the composition of the new Board of Directors is another significant milestone, and this follows the issuance of final approval of no objection by the Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to the effect that the technical and financial bids Teleology submitted for 9mobile met and satisfied all the regulatory requirements. This is indeed the dawn of a new era in the evolution of the 9mobile brand in the Nigerian market”, it added. The new Board of Directors of the telecommunication company are Nasiru Ado Bayero, Chairman; Asega Aliga, Non-Executive Director; Adrian Wood, Non-Executive Director; Mohammed Edewor, Non-Executive Director; Winston Ndubueze Udeh, Non-Executive Director; Abdulrahman Ado, Executive Director and Stephane Beuvelet, Acting Managing Director. Similarly, the new owners of Keystone Bank who were referred as a Consortium of local investors called Sigma Golf Nigeria Limited and Riverbank Investment Resources announced transitional governance arrangement that include new Board Chairman; Acting Managing Director/CEO; Executive Director and two Non-Executive Directors. The lender, which had since 2017 handed over officially to its new owner by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), has since named transition board team including new Board Chairman, Alhaji Umaru H. Modibbo, Hafiz Bakare, a Non-Executive Director; Titilayo Tairat Adebiyi; Mr. Dan-Habu, and Mrs. Isichei who was the then Executive Director in-charge of Operations and Technology at Keystone Bank Limited. Meanwhile, the PDP presidential campaign organisation has again declared that Nigeria’s president and candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, no longer has the moral standing to seek re-election until he directly responds to corruption allegations by its candidate, Atiku Abubakar. The PDP presidential candidate had demanded a probe into the ownership of Etisalat Nigeria and Keystone Bank. Abubakar, in a statement by a spokesperson, Phrank Shaibu, said the call was necessary, “in view of reports that members of Mr. Buhari’s family now own substantial share in Etisalat Nigeria, which has an estimated $2 billion (about N727 billion at 360 per dollar) of its estimated $20 billion global net worth.” The PDP campaign council, in a statement signed by its director, media and publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that Buhari should perish the thought of going ahead with his re-election campaign without clearing what he described as a pertinent issue, because it directly bothers on his integrity, both as a person and the exalted office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. “The PDP Presidential Campaign challenges President Buhari to explain how his family members came about the sum of N1.032 trillion for this scandalous acquisition,” Ologbondiyan said in a statement. He said Nigerians are not interested in “mere rhetoric or attempts by the Buhari Presidency to divert public attention from the issue at hand, but demand that President Buhari, who hitherto, prides himself as Mr. Integrity, squarely addresses these grave issues in person.” “This is not an issue for President Buhari’s aides to howl about in the media, it touches directly on his person, particularly his perception as a symbol of the Talakawas. He must, therefore, address them on this issue.” “It is a norm that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. President Buhari and his family members have entangled themselves in corruption. Mr. President’s hands can no longer be said to be clean until he proves otherwise”, it stated. But in a swift response to the allegations by the PDP campaign organisation, spokesperson of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, Festus Keyamo, in a statement sent to The Daily Times accused the PDP of a plot to release a series of wild, unsubstantiated allegations against the president and vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, including their friends and family members, in the next few weeks. “With the latest revelation,” he said, “the said shares are preferably linked to relatives of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, it has become a case of the thief calling the farm owner the thief, as the Yoruba would say, in a popular proverb. “These impending wild allegations would naturally border on corrupt practices, without any evidential basis.” Keyamo said the purpose is to attempt to dent the greatest forte of the president and vice president, which, according to him, is their integrity, ahead of the 2019 elections. He said the latest tactics of the main opposition is premised on the following grounds: “Since their stuttering campaigns started, they have felt the pulse of Nigerians and realized Nigerians have not forgotten their misdeeds of 16 years while in office. “They have decided to run a campaign of “we-are-all-corrupt” rather than defend their sordid records of merciless looting of the public purse, which has brought us to where we are today. “The aim is to push Nigerians to equate an Alhaji Atiku Abubakar with President Muhammadu Buhari on matters of corruption. They want to deceive Nigerians to think that the 2019 elections is a choice between two “corrupt” persons. “By repeating the lies a million times, they aim to get Nigerians to begin to give some serious thought to the lies. This is how the “Jubrin from Sudan” story started, before even some well-exposed and educated Nigerians were nearly converted on that issue. “Their latest desperate diversionary tactics is because even the most uneducated Nigerian has now understood that all the issues upon which the main opposition is campaigning are self-indicting issues, especially on the Economy and Security.” He said the foundation for the challenges in these sectors, are firmly rooted in what he termed as “16 years of disastrous governance which he said President Buhari has just started rebuilding. Keyamo said Nigerians should brace up for six weeks of despicable lies from the pit of hell against the president and vice president, to try to suggest to Nigerians that the president and his deputy are part of the league of looters to which the PDP belongs. “But Nigerians should understand that the choices before them have never been this clear: It is between a fugitive from the law in America and a President who has never been accused of stealing anything in his entire life and is respected both locally and internationally”, he explained. Commenting on this development, the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, has proffered solution to verifying President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged acquisition of Etisalat Nigeria and Keystone Bank Plc. Buhari is said to have acquired mouth-watering shares in Keystone Bank with total assets of $1.916bn, as well as purchasing about N3 billion worth of shares in the new Pakistani Islamic Bank. Reacting, Sani took to his Twitter page urging Etisalat and Keystone to publish names of shareholders. According to him, this is the only way to settle the allegations raised against Buhari. “Given the moral dust raised by the questions on the shares of the two firms now on the scale of integrity, Etisalat and Keystone should publish the full names of their shareholders, to exhale the billows of smoke and clear the dark clouds hanging over the landscape of our nation”, Sani wrote. However, there are questions in need responses, because in our fact findings, we discovered that 9mobile acquired Etisalat for $50 million or (N18.1bn) at a conversion rate of N362 to a dollar, but the confusion here is how can Buhari’s family have shares worth a whopping N727 billion from company currently valued at N18.9 billion in both assets and liabilities? Also, Keystone Bank in its latest financial report, put the value of the bank at N57.6 billion. If there is outright acquisition today, the value of the bank cannot be higher than N65 billion. So, how can Buhari’s family own share worth of N307.5 billion in a bank that is worth an extrapolated amount of about N65 billion?

© Motolani Oseni