For highly controversial Nigerian businessman, John Olatunde Ayeni, popularly known as Tunde Ayeni, it’s been one day, one trouble.
The latest in the plethora of his travails is that he has lost another company, Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) Limited, a DisCo he purchased in 2013, to the Nigerian government, six years after losing the defunct Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank Limited).
The action follows the judgment by the Federal High Court on September 8, 2021, which granted orders in favour of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) as receiver/manager of Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing (IEDM) Limited, IBEDC’s core investor, over defaults in a loan service agreement with Polaris Bank.
According to the chief operating officer of IBEDC, John Ayodele, “Further to the judgment wherein the Federal High Court on the 8th of September 2021 granted preservative orders in favour of Asset Management Corporation, AMCON, (being the receiver/manager of Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing Limited); the court has appointed Mr Kunle Ogunba Esq., SAN, to act as receiver/ manager nominee in the receivership action.”
The takeover also includes the assets of IEDM, including shares and interests in related companies and entities, in addition to the monies kept in banks.
Recall, the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had taken over the asset of Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank), where Ayeni was majority shareholder and served as chairman, due to bad loan and mismanagement.
Ayeni reportedly owed Skye Bank an unpaid N102 billion loan during CBN clampdown in 2016, forcing him to resign his position, a similar situation happening in IBEDC, where he and his board have now been ousted by AMCON.
In 2018, the NERC in an order of June 19, directed IBEDC to commence the process of dissolution of its board within 21 days’ period, citing alleged delay in the repayment of some loans by IBEDC investors.
The loan was granted by IBEDC from funds released to all DisCos by the CBN under the Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Funds (NEMSF) for the purpose of improving the networks and reducing aggregate technical, commercial and collection losses.
The IBEDC, led by Tunde Ayeni, responded that the electricity company had completely fulfilled its financial commitments.
In response, the directors of the electricity company sued NERC for its decision to suspend them from the board of IBEDC.
The judgment was, however, overturned by the Federal High Court on September 8, 2021, giving AMCON the right to proceed with the takeover of Integrated Energy Distribution and Marketing’s asset.
This resulted in AMCON appointing Ogunba as the receiver/manager nominee in the receivership action on October 2021.
Ayeni’s many battles over alleged financial fraud
Recall that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on March 6, 2019, arraigned Ayeni, former chairman of the defunct Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank), for withdrawing N17.4 billion raw cash from the suspense account of the bank between January 1 and December 31, 2014.
The EFCC further alleged that Ayeni received N3.75 billion in cash from the same account the following year.
The allegations are part of the 10 fraud charges filed against Ayeni and three others before a federal high court in Abuja.
The suit is separate from the N4.75bn and $5m fraud charges Ayeni and Timothy Oguntayo, a former managing director of the bank, are facing before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a federal high court.
According to a charge sheet marked FHC/Abuja/CR/37/2019, Ayeni, Oguntayo, Control Dredging Company Limited and Royaltex Paramount Ventures Limited allegedly laundered over N23 billion between 2014 and 2015.
The EFCC alleged that on December 24, 2014, Ayeni, while being chairman of the board of Skye Bank, transferred N3 billion from the defunct Skye Bank’s suspense account to a First City Monument Bank account with number 0758662025, belonging to Control Dredging Company Limited, another company owned by him.
The commission alleged that the act was in contravention of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, which is punishable under Section 15 of the same act.
The anti-graft agency further alleged that Ayeni and Oguntayo conspired with others on March 25, 2015, to transfer the sum of N1.25 billion from the suspense account of the defunct Skye Bank to the Skye Bank account of Royaltex Paramount Ventures Limited, another company owned by Ayeni.
Others listed as defendants are Mr Dare Folarin, Akingbade Adebayo, Dr Nurudeen Mohammed, Mr Otitoju Moses, Mr Longe Lolade, Mr Umar Kangiwa, and Abubakar Madaki, among others.
The matter is still on-going.
Senate probes Ayeni’s Aso Savings & Loans over N2 billion fraud
The senate has launched a probe into alleged fraud of N2 billion involving the Zungeru Power Project and Aso Savings and Loans, an Abuja-based deposit money bank owned by Ayeni.
The Senate Public Account Committee (PAC) raised the alert based on a query issued by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation in its 2015 audit report.
The office thereafter presented the report for probe by the senate.
The said amount was said to be domiciled in Aso Savings and Loans PLC since 2015 with account number 0013465399 and implemented by the Ministry of Power.
The committee decried the lack of transparency in the disbursement of funds as highlighted in the report.
An excerpt from the report of the office of OAuGf reads: “The examination of various bank statements belonging to the Ministry of Power revealed that the sum of N2 billion was deposited into a savings and loans account since December 2013.
“The ministry should provide the backing document to enable me to carry out proper audit checks on the operation of this account, particularly, the interest accrued on the deposit.”
Responding then, the Ministry of Power stated that on the 20th of December 2012, it requested from the Accountant-general of the Federation to open an account which was approved on the 14th of January 2013.
Then, it collected about N1.6 billion from the bank remaining a balance of N478 million in the bank for alleged payments to M/S Alagbe ( N11 million), Ministry of Lands and Housing Niger State ( N378.8 million), and Federal Inland Revenue FIRS (N88 million).
Years after acquiring NITEL, new company, ‘ntel’ struggles to stay afloat
For subscribers on the network of ntel, a company initially owned by the federal government and later acquired by Tunde Ayeni, it has been harrowing for them as ntel has continues to struggle to stay afloat.
This is because ntel services are always down over very poor network connections.
The challenge before ntel might be more, as it was gathered that some staff, including managerial ones have resigned from the firm.
The ntel story can be traced to the acquisition of core telecom assets previously owned by Nigeria’s national fixed and mobile operators, NiTel/MTel- by NatCom Development & Investment Ltd in a liquidation process supervised and approved by Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises and a court-appointed liquidator.
This liquidation process was concluded in May 2015 with NiTel/MTel’s core assets wholly transferred to NatCom.
Since the acquisition, nothing much has been heard from the new company, ntel.
Source: The Witness