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FALSE AND DEFAMATORY PUBLICATIONS AGAINST NESTOIL GROUP AND ITS GMD, DR. ERNEST AZUDIALU – OBIEJESI

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CEASE AND DESIST AND PRE-ACTION NOTIFICATION

Our attention has been drawn to fake and false news circulating on social media and some online news media, namely: Witnessngr, Newstrack, Idoma voice, Nigerian voice, Sayflexxyblocg, amcomrade, Globaltimesinternational, Naijaworld, Pejoweb, and newsdawnng, and others, alleging that Nestoil Limited and its Dr. Ernest Azudialu – Obiejesi, Group Managing Director (GMD) are the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for financial crimes and fraudulent activities.

Ordinarily, the Nestoil Group will not dignify such unscrupulous with a response given that the accusations are baseless, misconceived and malicious.

The Correct Facts

The correct factual position is that one of the bankers of Nestoil whose loan had been repaid by about 90%, had, despite a pending litigation with subsisting court orders of status quo, petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) on the same matter but in the process made misleading allegations, which EFCC had later discovered as incorrect and misleading. EFCC had further observed that there was indeed a pending litigation with subsisting orders of status quo made by the Federal High Court binding the parties (ie. Nestoil and the bank); the facility in question had evidently been restructured by the petitioner-Bank. EFCC consequently,directed the cleaning of the erroneous marking on the property at Ikoyi belonging to one of the affiliates of the Nestoil Group, thereby closing out the matter since June 2021, after openly warning the Bank for misleading the Commission with false allegations in relation to the loan facility. Again, EFCC had noted that the subject matter of the petition was a purely civil involving a bank and its customer in the ordinary course of business and had no iota of criminality.

It should be emphasised that at no time did the EFCC take over the said Ikoyi property neither was it pledged as collateral to the Bank. Again, Dr. Ernest Azudialu -Obiejesi, was neither the subject matter of the petition nor the concluded EFCC investigation. Similarly, Nestoil Tower located at Akin Adesola Street, Victoria Island, was neither charged to the Bank, marked by EFCC, nor formed part of the concluded investigation, as had been misrepresented in the mischievous stories.

Cease and Desist and Pre – Action Notice

Consequently, we demand that the following online media houses, namely: Witnessnger, Globaltimesinternational, Naijaworld, Pejoweb, and newsdawnng, who had been publishing various damaging, defamatory, injurious and disparaging stories, which appear to be sponsored by our detractors, and in the process resorted to criminal blackmail and extortion, to cease, desist and publish retractions with the same degree of publicity and intensity as their related stories.

Meanwhile, please note that your offensive and nauseating actions have both criminal and civil consequences under the law. Failure to desist, cease and publish widely circulated retractions and apologies in respect of your aforesaid offensive publications within seven (7) days from date of first publication of this notice May compel us to initiate a criminal process pursuant to section 24 (and other relevant sections) of Cybercrimes Act 2015 and any other relevant Nigerian penal Laws in that regard. For the avoidance of doubt, the punishmentfor this offence under section 24(b) of the Cybercrimes Act is a fine of N7,000,000.00 Seven Million Naira) or imprisonment for a term of 3 years, or both. This is without prejudice to our rights to seek substantial damages for defamation and injurious falsehood, which rights arereserved.

The publishers, reporters, transmitters of these offensive, incorrect and embarrassing stories, including : witnessngr, Newstrack, Idoma Voice, Nigerian Voice, Sayflexxyblocg, amcomrade, Globaltimesinternational, Naijaworld, Pejoweb, newsdawnng, and others, who appear to have been sponsored by some mischievous elements in the society, and their sponsors, are hereby warned to take notice and be guided accordingly, before it becomes too late, as we shall take firm and decisive legal steps, without any further recourse to them, if our above stated warnings and demands are not strictly adhered to.

Signed

MANAGEMENT

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Business

Heritage Bank launches Octiplus App, Reinforces Commitment as Technology Driven Institution

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Heritage Bank Plc has launched a robust innovative and advanced digital banking experience, “Octiplus”.

Octiplus as a bank-agnostic, all-in-one digital banking application, which grants users access to a bouquet of financial, lifestyle and social networking features with the added convenience of converging card based payments within one application irrespective of the issuing Nigerian Bank.

This state-of-the-art transactional and lifestyle application stands out in the industry, exposing customers to unique features which guarantee users access to relevant financial management tools which facilitate an improved spend and savings culture whilst affording users to a borderless transactional experience.

It is a mobile banking app developed and owned by the Bank and configured with a wide range of exciting features to meet the needs of the banking public.

The Divisional Head Innovation, Ikenna Imo stated that Octiplus promises an intelligent Omni-channel experience which augments the usual transactional features including bills payment, funds transfer and airtime recharge with its unique ability to facilitate person to person/group interactions which encourage small businesses and a thriving side hustle for young professionals.

He further confirmed that the App is now available for download on the Google and iOS App Stores.

Expressing his delight over the feat achieved, the MD/CEO of the bank, Ifie Sekibo stated, “Heritage Bank is a technology-driven institution with vast knowledge as a service organization in the business of banking and with the introduction of Octiplus, it is indicative that we are driven by the passion to ensure that your financial, business and lifestyle objectives are delivered in a convenient and interactive manner.

“With Octiplus, we are set to redefine the concept of digital banking for the discerning mobile user, as the app is equipped with several exciting features that reiterate the Bank’s commitment to expand its digital architecture and modernize its interactions with the banking public, irrespective of your preferred financial institution.

Ozena Utulu, Ag. Group Head, Corporate Communications

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Viewpoint: Emefiele And The Not So Exclusive Audio Tapes

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Nigeria, must we always kill our illustrious sons? It is a question that several persons of repute, including activist, had asked in the past and the question again took on relevance in recent days as the hyenas hemmed in what they thought was their prey and tried to snuff life out of his career. The intended dinner of the human hyenas was the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr Godwin Emefiele.

The hunting ground of choice was the web pages of Sahara Reporters, which went to town with the screamer, “CAUGHT ON TAPE: How Central Bank Governor Emefiele, Deputy Adamu And Top Officials Discussed How To Cover-Up N500bn Which They Stole From The CBN”. But it turned out the hyenas were not meant to have Emefiele for dinner, they went hungry. Contrary to the envisaged endgame, President Muhammadu Buhari handed him another five years in office. And who would not, considering the superlative outing he had in his first term? It must be this performance that made his confirmation by the Senate to be as fast as lightning.

Beyond being re-appointed and being expeditiously confirmed to continue leading Nigeria’s apex bank, it turned out that the report carried by Sahara Reporters was the usual hatchet job. The best the report was able to do was to twist a routine telephone conversation out of context to allege a theft that never took place while further exposing the shallowness of the folks behind the news blog and those who contracted them to do the hit job.

The story they put out has been spectacularly rubbished by the statement issued by Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications. There is no need to rehash the explanation offered in that statement but suffice to say the statement exposed the lack of understanding on the part of those who thought they had caught Mr Emefiele in a compromised position worthy of breaking news and embarrassing enough to the government to not reappoint him. The reality, however, is that they only succeeded in convincing the rest of us how ignorant they are about the way reserve banks work.

There is the outside chance that these hyenas are not so ignorant; they know there is no substance in their claim but they were deluded to expect that Nigerians and their leaders are naïve to the point where they will rush to crucify Emefiele without first weighing the substance of the supposed allegations implied by leaking the tape.

Three things stand out in this ugly saga of a failed blackmail attempt. The first is that the recording points to the existence of deeply political operatives in all branches and agencies of government. Those who made the audio went to great length to procure their tainted produce

 

Whether they bugged or hacked the telephone sets in the CBN Governor’s office, compromise the internal switch at the apex bank, or deployed eavesdropping technology to intercept the calls, this is a red flag that public officials are now persistently under threat from political operatives that are out to garner information for their own end.

To the extent that Mr Emefiele’s telephone conversation was in pursuit of legitimate duty, as we now know, the perpetrators of this act have breached several of the laws of the land and their action can be likened to an attack on the country.

A second observation is that the kind of concern one can surmise from the CBN Governor’s discomfort and expressions in the course of the call showed a man that is passionate about getting his country out of an economic mess that took long in making. That people connected with the making of the mess are the ones now trying to make its resolution appear like a crime in progress is the height of travesty.

Mr Emefiele could have simply act indifferently and cited the approvals from the Ministry of Finance as a basis to be unconcerned. But true to his credential as a man that has done much to reduce and now on the verge of eradicating the famed black hole that swallows national resources at the CBN, the audio depicted him as greatly agitated about recovery of the funds that were released to bail out states that failed to be fiscally prudent to the point of becoming insolvent.

 

A note must be made of the fact that the irresponsible behaviour on the part of state governors, which led to this situation, was the hallmark of the governments that preceded that of President Buhari. State governors of now, even those that do not belong to the ruling party at the centre, have learned that there is no longer room for kleptocratic frivolity.

Furthermore, it is one thing to criminally breach the security of an institution as pivotal as the CBN, publishing the proceeds of that crime amounts to daring the state. It is like someone stealing clothes from a neighbourhood and then parading the streets dressed in the stolen items. Such arrogance comes from the erroneous impression that the state is incapable of visiting the requisite sanction on the offenders or that the criminal in this instance is above the law.

With these observations come the steps that must be taken to prevent blackmailers and criminals from arrogating legitimacy to themselves should they wrongly surmise that society condones their wrong-doings. It is, therefore, necessary to clearly define what constitutes desirable whistleblowing and what amounts to espionage against the interests of the Nigerian state.

 

A situation where Chief Executives of government agencies and other government functionaries are illegitimately wiretapped cannot be allowed to continue unabated. Today, it is Emefiele, what happens when these criminally minded people turn to bug the Inspector General of Police and his key staff while making the recordings available to bandits and kidnappers? Or how much of this wiretapping have been deployed for insider trading or machination towards the collapse of the banks regulated by the CBN?

Also, the government must make it a priority to get to the bottom of this breach at the CBN. The breach and other actions carried out in its aftermath should be subjected to review by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation such that those found culpable – individual or corporate – would be made to face the law, of which there are adequate provisions.

This piece will conclude on the note of urging Mr Emefiele not to be daunted by the antics of those that feel pained that the CBN is no longer the ATM pool for corruption because of the reforms he has instituted there. Nigerians, who are his actual employers, are happy with his work, which made them greet his re-appointment with accolades. It’s the views of these employers that matter and not the perverted indulgence of a criminal few.

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Heritage Bank MD Tasks Govt on Policies to Support Private Sector Interventions for Infrastructure Growth

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L-R: Blaise Udunze, Team Lead Media and External Relations of Heritage Bank Plc; former Managing Director of Bank of Industry, Waheed Olagunju and the Chairman of Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria, Titus Nwokoji, during the duo Platinum Awards presented to Ifie Sekibo and Heritage Bank for Outstanding Support towards FICAN and Financial Reporting, respectively at the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria’s (FICAN) 30th-anniversary conference and awards with the theme: “Financing Infrastructure & SMEs for inclusive growth in the post-COVID-19 economy,” held in Lagos, weekend.

…Cart away duo Platinum awards

The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo has called on governments to provide enabling policies that would support private sector interventions to achieve the vision of infrastructural development.

He made this submission at the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria’s (FICAN) 30th-anniversary conference and awards with the theme: “Financing Infrastructure & SMEs for inclusive growth in the post-COVID-19 economy,” held weekend in Lagos, where the bank carted away duo Platinum Awards presented to Ifie Sekibo and Heritage Bank for Outstanding Support towards FICAN and Financial Reporting, respectively.

L-R: Titus Nwokoji, Chairman of Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria; Olusegun Akanji, Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions of Heritage Bank Plc and former Chairman of FICAN and Deputy Business Editor of Vanguard, Babajide Komolafe, during the duo Platinum Awards presented to Ifie Sekibo and Heritage Bank for Outstanding Support towards FICAN and Financial Reporting, respectively at the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria’s (FICAN) 30th-anniversary conference and awards with the theme: “Financing Infrastructure & SMEs for inclusive growth in the post-COVID-19 economy,” held in Lagos, weekend.

Sekibo who was represented by Olusegun Akanji, Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, argued that the government cannot solve the country’s infrastructure challenges, noting that it is the private sector that will deliver the solution.
According to him, the government can only provide enabling policies that will support private sector interventions.

“We need the global private sector intervention to help us achieve a vision of infrastructural development,” he said.
He noted that until the country developed an identity management system that delivers value to the citizenry, SMEs will continue to grapple with financing challenges.
He explained that though the banking industry has financed a lot of SMEs in terms of count, that it is the sector that has the largest numbers of bad loans and frauds in terms of count.
MD of FMDQ Group, Bola Koko represented by Yomi  Osinubi, Head Private Market, urged Nigeria to conceive a way its domestic capital market could fund the international capital market.
That, he said, was the only way that we could pluck the infrastructure rewards.
“If we want to pluck our infrastructure rewards, first of all we have to conceive of a way our domestic capital market can actually fund capital market.
“But the investors in debt capital market international and debt, money will come into an environment where capital is expected and there is an expectation of good management of those resources and cash flows will come back to it.
“So I think there’s the issue of maybe an underlying structure where we want to put in capital like road infrastructure tax payment.
” If you want SMEs to get the best benefits of infrastructure development in the country, the CBN Governor mentioned the largest areas of course for SMEs which is energy.  The second largest is the logistics, movements of cargo around the country,” he said.
Executive Commissioner, Temidayo  Obisan representing the Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC),Lamido yuguda advised that the nation connected the right duration of money which according to him would be long-term. “The major thing to identify is that infrastructure is a long-term thing,  so it Is essential we connect the right duration of money which is long term capital which is what capital market provides and which sec as a regulator should.
“We have about three surviving infrastructure focus funds in Nigeria now that are totalling almost a 100bn, itching about 90 billion at the moment and there are some that are registered programmes of 200billion,” he said.
More so, the Chairman of FICAN, Titus Chima Nwokoji, said if Nigeria’s infrastructural gap, which is estimated to be N36 trillion annually, is addressed, a lot of the country’s economic challenges will be easily tackled.

“And coming out of COVID-19 pandemic, we know that if the infrastructure is fixed and SMEs thrive, the growth that you see will be faster,” he added. //END.//

Ozena Utulu, Ag. Head, Corporate Communications

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