BPE Probe: Jimoh Ibrahim forged signature to acquire NICON
Senators were told on Wednesday that NICON Insurance was acquired by Global Fleet Oil and Gas with a signature allegedly forged by NICON Chairman Jimoh Ibrahim.
The Senate Committee probing the sale of government companies from 1999 to date learnt from a petition presented by Dickson Osuala, the lawyer for Assurance Acquisition Limited (AAL), that Ibrahim has since allegedly stripped NICON of N6.3 billion.
Osuala’s claim of forgery was confirmed by a police forensic expert, Deputy Superintendent of Police, E. Kolawole, who stated that the signature on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was not structurally the same as the specimen signature of Obiora Okonkwo, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of N-Glory Development Nigeria Limited.
“We have been reliably informed by our client that (Okonkwo) did not sign any such document and N-Glory Development Limited did not sign any such document and did not authorise at any time anybody to sign the same on its behalf,” Osuala said.
The petition stated that AAL made a bid of 70 per cent acquisition of NICON, and it was “accepted as the preferred bid after assessing our clients’ proposal, including but not limited to the post acquisition management plan.
“That one Jimoh Ibrahim of Global Fleet Oil and Gas Limited has by use of false representations, ‘name dropping,’ multitudinous false claims of representing a highly placed third party (name withheld) taken over NICON Insurance with diverse illegal acts and has been running it aground contrary to the management proposal pursuant to which AAL was acclaimed the preferred bidder and the share purchase agreement.”
The audited report by KPMG Professional Services also alleged that: “The total assets taken out of the company either directly or through companies wholly owned and controlled by (Ibrahim) and not properly accounted for amounts to N6.3 billion.
“Money includes investment in NICON Investment Limited (N2.4billion), proceeds from closure of HSBC Bank one-day call and ND Euro Currency Accounts (N1.7 billlion), balance in Oceanic Bank domiciliary account (N1.6 billion), Investment in NICON Airways (N350 million), expenses incurred on behalf of NICON Airways (N192 million), erstwhile GMD’s drawing (N12 million), expenses incurred on behalf of NICON Properties Limited (N12 million), expenses incurred on behalf of NICON Investment Limited (N10 million), and liquidation of placement with NICON Investment Limited (N51 million).”
“He virtually took out the money he paid to the BPE (Bureau of Public Enterprises) for the acquisition of NICON Insurance.
“Having failed to obtain board approval or notify the board of these transactions, failed to discharge his duties as Director of the company required by Sections 279, 280, and 282 of the Company and Allied Matters Act 1990 as amended.”
BPE counsel Paul Idornigie confirmed that AAL was the preferred bidder for NICON and the claim of illegal act by Ibrahim is being investigated. But he said the allegation that no member of AAL Consortium agreed to the inclusion of Ibrahim is not correct, because the board resolution was duly signed by the first Directors of AAL and subscribers to the Memorandum and Articles of Association of AAL.
Idornigie added that the BPE “discovered that the members in the MoU were different from those evaluated leading to the pre-qualification for the financial bid. A letter was written to AAL to furnish the Bureau with the profile of the new entrants.
“This is with a view to subjecting them to the same criteria as the earlier pre-qualified bidders. The marks obtained with the new entrants were higher than the marks scored by the old members, hence the bid process was allowed to continue.”
Idornigie said the issues raised are internal to AAL and it is strongly recommended that they be resolved amicably.
BPE Director General, Bolanle Onagoruwa, told Senators that the money meant for the payment of NICON pensioners had been given to the company’s management when it was sold.
But NICON Managing Director, Emmanuel Jegede, denied the claim, saying the money was taken from NICON before it was sold to Global Fleet.
Committee Chairman Ahmad Lawan directed Onagoruwa to furnish the Committee with details of total earnings of all privatised companies year by year, proceeds lodgement in banks, account number, interest accruing, consultancy papers, copies of pre and post privatisation audited accounts, and hand over notes.
Lawan also requested copies of evaluation reports of all privatised companies, copies of policies of automobile companies, addresses of liaison offices, details on dividends that accrued to the government, community shares of Eleme Petrol Chemical Company and suspended sale of five per cent share of Eleme Petrol-Chemical.