Angry denials, threats trail published lists of bank debtors…..Premium Times

Abike Dabiri-Erewa

Some prominent Nigerians whose names are on a list of delinquent bank debtors published on Monday and Tuesday by commercial banks in the country have faulted the publications, denying they ever incurred the debts ascribed to them

Those who have protested their inclusion on the list include a former member of the House of Representatives who represented Ikorodu Federal Constituency, Abike Dabiri-Erewa; one-time Minister of State for Works, Dayo Adeyeye, and his friend and former Senator who represented Ekiti North, Ayo Arise.

Among the list of 173 “major delinquent debtors” published on Tuesday by THE PUNCH, the name “Hon Abike Dabiri” appeared on No. 94, along with “Engr. Lukman Erogbogbo, Pharmacist Tunde Ogunleye, Mr. Bayo Kazeem, Chief Dixon Afolabi, Chief Oye Solebe” and “Mr. Mukund Gerrud” as directors of the company with Account name, “Thriller Endeavours”.

The publication indicated that they benefited from a term loan of N122, 912,031.06 granted on December 11, 2007, which expired on November 1, 2008.

Based on the publication, Punch newspapers ran a report, along with Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa’s picture on its front page, along with other prominent politicians and businessmen whose names were also listed in that and other publications.

However, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa, in a swift reaction on Tuesday through her twitter handle @abikedabiri, vehemently denied any knowledge about the purported loan, or the company under reference.

“Shocked to see my pic in Punch. Said to owe 100m linked to some co. (company). I OWE no one, not even myself?…. Must be mistaken identity. Also writing Diamond bank and CBN to set the records straight,” the former lawmaker tweeted.

She added, “Definitely NOT ME.!! Never even heard the name of the co! Will get to the bottom of this! Never even heard the name of the co! Will get to the bottom of this!”

In their own reactions to the publication of their names and photographs in THE PUNCH, Messrs. Adeyeye and Arise threatened to take legal actions against Unity Bank for the publication and urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to take the matter very seriously.

In separate statements, both politicians said they were not owing any bank, either in Nigeria or abroad for any reason.

In a statement in Ado-Ekiti, Mr. Adeyeye said his only relationship with the company, International Payment Devices Limited, listed on No. 64 of the publication by Unity Bank, was his nomination by his friend, Mr. Arise, as a nominal director of the company.

The former Minister was listed along with Robinson Pere, Robinson Ebiowe, Arise Ayodele, Olagbegi Bowo Prince, Adeyeye Dayo, Adebiti Yinka, Arise Seye and Obilana Ayo as directors of the company.

In the publication, Unity Bank disclosed that the said directors were on April 24, 2008 granted a bridging loan, which expired on October 20, 2008, leaving a balance of N81,975,851.23.

But, Mr. Adeyeye who denied owing the money, blamed the bank for the non-performing loans, and queried its management for always granting loans to clients without adequate collateral.

“Truly, a friend of mine, Senator Ayo Arise, owner of International Payment Devices Limited, included my name as one of the directors just to satisfy the Corporate Affairs Commission requirements,” Mr. Adeyeye said in his statement.

“I have never been part of the operations of the company since it was incorporated. I have never shared any dividend from the company, or carried out any function on behalf of the company. Most importantly, I was never involved in any transaction between the company and Unity Bank Plc, and the bank never informed me that I was involved in any transaction on behalf of any company.”

He argued that only a competent court of law could say whether or not any individual or organisation was a debtor, pointing out that it was unethical for a bank to publish names of its clients and categorise them as debtors when it should have simply taken over the collateral used to secure the loan.

On his part, Mr. Arise expressed sadness over the mention of his name on the list of debtors, saying, International Payment Devices of which he was a director did not owe Unity Bank Plc.

The listing of his name in the publication, the former senator said, portrayed the bank as lacking probity and organizational competence.

“International Payment devices Ltd had a business relationship with Unity Bank Plc sometimes in 2007. They gave a purchase order for the procurement of 25 Triton ATM Machines at a value of N63, 500,000,” Mr. Arise said.

“They paid N44, 450,000.00 as advance payment, guaranteed by IPD by Insurance bond. The management of IPD borrowed 12 million Naira secured by the balance of N19, 050,000.00 that Unity Bank owed them as a result of the transaction.”

Accusing the bank of refusing to pay him the outstanding of N7 million on ATM, adding that it had chosen  to rebuff every attempt by the management of IPD to collect the balance of N7 million after removing the N12m loan plus interest.

“I was not involved in the running of the business at that time as I was in the Senate. But, the Managing Director of the company, Tom Okeke, informed me of the refusal of the bank to pay the N7 million owed,” Mr. Arise said.

“Mr. Okeke further informed me that AMCON (Asset Management Company of Nigeria) contacted him sometimes ago, and after listening to the transaction details, concluded that IPD was not owing Unity Bank.”

He threatened to report Unity Bank to the Central Bank of Nigeria for fraudulent misrepresentation and dishonesty unbecoming of a financial institution trusted with depositor’s funds.

“I will pursue all legal remedies to get punitive damages against Unity Bank Plc and the Punch newspapers. The Central Bank should punish Unity Bank and all other banks trying to use fraudulent information to malign customer’s information,” he said.