• We’ve made our position known, says bank
By Musa Baba Adamu
Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, has insisted that the management of United Bank for Africa (UBA), needs explain alleged withdrawals of N41billion from N42billion NITEL /MTEL Accounts domiciled with it by liquidators of the Telecommunication firms.
Sen Akinyelure who had penultimate week, said that the UBA Group Managing Director, Kennedy Uzoka must appear before his committee on Wednesday last week over the alleged fraud , however toned down his voice in his latest statement on the issue.
It would be recalled that the planned investigation by the Akinyelure-led Committee fixed for Wednesday last week, could not hold due to exceptions taken by the Chairman/CEO of UBA, Chief Tony Elumelu expected to make clarifications over allegations by the Senator against the Bank. .
Elumelu had in his reaction to the alleged N41billion Scam against UBA, threatened to take up Akinyelure legally if the allegations were not retracted within seven days.
Though Akinyelure had in the just ended week , earlier said he was not perturbed by the threat but in a latest statement personally issued on the contentious issue , he said what the committee wanted from UBA on the alleged N41billion withdrawals , was explanations to that effect .
The somewhat embattled lawmaker in the statement entitled: “Clarification of Allegations of false and malicious publication against Chief Tony Elumelu, Chairman/CEO of UBA Plc” , said his earlier submissions on the matter during media briefing , were not meant to blackmail Elumelu or the Bank but to let the general public know the allegations leveled against the Financial Institution.
“My action as the Committee Chairman to address the press is to distinguish between two petitions against UBA before it , and not meant to cause malicious damage to the Management at UBA Plc, having invited them for a closed-door meeting twice to resolve the issues amicably without success.
“My media briefing was therefore never intended to blackmail or cause any malicious damage to the reputation of Chairman/CEO of UBA Plc , Chief Tony Elumelu or any of its officials, but our responsibilities to the whole Nigerians as democratically elected representatives of the people in the legislature to fight for their rights where we feel that their rights have been infringed upon.”
He however insisted that the UBA management seriously needs to appear before the committee to answer to the two petitions filed against them by creditors and liquidators of NITEL and MTEL.
The statement dated 8th August, 2020 reads in part: “My attention as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics. Privileges and Public Petitions have been drawn to several publications on various national dailies and therefore require me to make the following clarifications to refute the said allegations on the following grounds.
“That there are two separate petitions against UBA before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions for consideration in respect of alleged unauthorized withdrawals of N41billion out of N42 Billion from NITEL and MTEL Accounts.
“The first of such Petitions by Liquidators at NITEL & MTEL was from Messrs Otunba O. Sonbore against UBA tor N685,390.365.25 for refund to access Bank charges against NITEL and MTEL account in Liquidation.
“This case was brought before the High Court and Appeal Court and judgment was In favour of the Liquidators at NITEL/MTEL, which has however been appealed against by UBA in Supreme Court, the basis upon which the Committee stepped down further hearing on it in line with Senate rules .
“The second petition against the bank , was referred to the Committee on 1st July, 2020, a petition written by J. U. Ayogu Esq. a Human Right Lawyer on behalf of the Creditors of the Liquidated NITEL and MTEL against the Managing Director at UBA Plc or deliberate denial of payment of over N41.8billion withdrawn from various accounts at NITEL without provision of tickets for withdrawals as follows:
“N29,882,868,204.17 on NITEL account 1142030000705 was withdrawn without authorization and non-provision of tickets up till now.
“ N11.672,467,105.19 withdrawn by UBA Ptc without authorization from account 1003537230 which was the closing balance at the account and Liquidation.
“N169,128,039.24 withdrawn from NITEL Plc account 100729072 without authorization and non-provision of tickets up till now.
“N22,948,854.73 also withdrawn without authorization and without provision at tickets up till now.
“N6,866,171.71 transferred to the Office at the Accountant General of the Federation without authorization to be reversed back to account.
“The above transactions were not in any way being litigated against by the UBA in the Court of law and therefore the Committee only call on UBA Plc Management to come and justify their actions for not providing tickets for unauthorized withdrawals from NITEL/MTEL accounts up till now and secondly to show Court processes it has on any of the above that will convince the Committee not to order for reversal of outstanding amounts back to the Customer’s account after seven years till date”.
When Peoples Daily contacted one of the Public Affairs officials of UBA, Nasir Olanrewaju for comment on the fresh position of Senator Ayo Akinyelure, he said the bank has said all it needs to say in respect of the allegations, and does not need to say more.
He added that a close look at the comments of the Senator is an admission of the key role the bank has been playing in steering its corporate responsibility in service to the public, which the bank will always be committed to.