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President Muhammadu Buhari has allegedly ordered the resignation of the former Governor of Rivers State who is now the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi.

Also alleged to have been asked to resign are Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari over various allegations of corruption, DAILY POST exclusively gathered.

A source in the Presidential Villa told DAILY POST that Buhari worried that having these persons in his cabinet could put so much to question about his personality and frustrate the present anti-corruption war had advised them to quietly resign.

The source also said the President reminded them of his earlier warning that if he sacked any of his appointees, such would be prosecuted.

It would be recalled that there had been several allegations of corruption flying in and outside the media about Ameachi. A leading Newspaper in the United Kingdom, UK, ‘The Mail Daily,’ on Sunday, May 15, 2016 published a report revealing how Rotimi Amaechi allegedly looted Nigeria’s treasury.

The report claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘fantastically corrupt” friend, spent over $140 million on the president’s 2015 campaign and has been accused of stealing £500 million.

Also a Judicial Commission of Inquiry in Rivers State had allegedly indicted the former governor for looting the treasury of the state, when he served as Governor for eight years. Amaechi had, however, denied these various allegations.

His contemporary, Babatunde Fashola, had equally been petitioned over mismanagement of Lagos state funds. It would be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was petitioned by the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, a coalition of anti-corruption organisations in Nigeria, over an alleged “questionable expenditures” of the administration of Babatunde Fashola. He allegedly approved before he left office, N78.3 million from the state’s treasury for an upgrade of his personal website, an allegation he had since denied.

Relatively, it has been alleged that the Chief of Staff (CoS), Abba Kyari, took N500m from operators of MTN to help the telecommunications giant mitigate the fine imposed on it by the federal government.

The chief of staff was also allegedly involved in a deal of taking money from Jide Omokore, a shady businessman who was allegedly involved in corruption in the oil sector during the preceding administration.

”The president has been waiting patiently for them to resign,’’ The source stressed.

When DAILY POST contacted the Senior Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, he simply said in a text message thus; ‘’I am sorry I am in Abuja and I can’t confirm or deny the report with the president who is now in London. If you can leave me out of this, I will appreciate.’’

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari recently suspended the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr David Babachir Lawal and ordered an investigation into the allegations of violations of law and due process made against him in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).

The President had equally ordered a full scale investigation into the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, over which the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) made a claim, hence suspending the DG, Ambassador Ayo Oke.

The investigation is also to enquire into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds, how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA, and to establish whether or not there has been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.

Meanwhile, when DAILY POST contacted Fashola’s Media aide, Bello Hakeem, he listened carefully but hung up. He rejected all other calls put across to him to get Fashola’s reaction.

Effort to reach Ameachi’s media aides failed as mobile phones were permanently switched off.

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BUSINESS

Diamond Bank confirms merger talks with Access Bank

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Diamond bank has confirmed its merger with Access Bank Plc, stating that the development is in the best interest of all stakeholders including, employees, customers, depositors and shareholders.

In a statement signed by Chioma Afe, Head, Corporate Communications of Diamond Bank, and made available to THE WITNESS on Monday, the lender said that the proposed merger would involve Access Bank acquiring the entire issued share capital of Diamond Bank in exchange for a combination of cash and shares in Access Bank via a Scheme of Merger.

 

Read the full statement below:

The Board of Diamond Bank Plc (“Diamond Bank”) today announces that following a strategic review leading to a competitive process, the Board has selected Access Bank Plc (“Access Bank”) as the preferred bidder with respect to a potential merger of the two banks (“the merger”) that will create Nigeria and Africa’s largest retail bank by customers.

The Board of Diamond Bank believes that the merger is in the best interest of all stakeholders including, employees, customers, depositors and shareholders and has agreed to recommend the offer to Diamond Bank’s shareholders. Completion of the merger is subject to certain shareholder and regulatory approvals.

The proposed merger would involve Access Bank acquiring the entire issued share capital of Diamond Bank in exchange for a combination of cash and shares in Access Bank via a Scheme of Merger. Based on the agreement reached by the Boards of the two financial institutions, Diamond Bank shareholders will receive a consideration of N3.13 per share, comprising of N1.00 per share in cash and the allotment of 2 New Access Bank ordinary shares for every 7 Diamond Bank ordinary shares held as at the Implementation Date. The offer represents a premium of 260% to the closing market price of N0.87 per share of Diamond Bank on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”) as of December 13, 2018, the date of the final binding offer.

Immediately following completion of the merger, Diamond Bank would be absorbed into Access Bank and it will cease to exist under Nigerian law. The current listing of Diamond Bank’s shares on the NSE and the listing of Diamond Bank’s global depositary receipts on the London Stock Exchange will be cancelled, upon the merger becoming effective.

Diamond Bank expects the transaction to complete in the first half of 2019.

Uzoma Dozie, the Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank, said: “The proposed combination with Access Bank will create one of Africa’s leading financial institutions.

There is clear strategic rationale for the proposed merger and strong complementarities between the two institutions. While Diamond Bank has pioneered Nigeria’s largest technology-led retail banking platform, Access Bank is one of Nigeria’s leading full-service commercial banks. Consolidation in the Nigerian banking industry is an inevitable, natural progression in a sector where the gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2 banks has been widening and scale has become critical; where technology will disrupt the traditional business model while enabling broader financial inclusion.

The board of Diamond Bank believes that the proposed combination of the two operations provides an exciting prospect for all stakeholders in both businesses and will create a financial

institution with the scale, strength and expertise to capitalise on the significant opportunities in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa more broadly.”

Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank, said: “Access Bank has a strong track record of acquisition and integration and has a clear growth strategy. Access Bank and Diamond Bank have complementary operations and similar values, and a merger with Diamond Bank, with its leadership in digital and mobile-led retail banking, could accelerate our strategy as a significant corporate and retail bank in Nigeria and a Pan-African financial services champion. Access Bank has a strong financial profile with attractive returns and a robust capital position with 20.1% CAR as at 30 September 2018. We believe that this platform, together with the two banks’ shared focus on innovation, financial inclusion and sustainability, can bring benefits to Access Bank and Diamond Bank customers, staff and shareholders.”

Exotix Capital acted as international financial advisor to Diamond Bank, and Templars acted as Nigerian legal counsel.

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NEWS

FG, Labour to build 200 housing units for workers in Katsina

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The federal government through the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) in collaboration with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and other affiliated unions in Nigeria Saturday flagged off the construction of 200 housing units in Katsina State.

This was even as FMBN said it has committed N1.9 billion through its Estate Development Loan (EDL) to construct 492 housing units situated in estates across the state through selected developers.

The 200 housing unit project is part of federal government’s effort at providing affordable houses to its workforce across the country via the National Affordable Housing Delivery Programme (NAHDEP).

Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony at Kambarwa, in Batagarawa Local Government Area of the state, the Managing Director of FMBN Ahmed Dangiwa said the houses when completed would be in the selling range of between N3.1 million to N8.3 million.

According to Dangiwa, “The housing units would be in the mix of three, two, one bedroom semi-detached bungalows and block of flats that can assuage the sufferings of the beneficiaries.

“The Katsina project is the first phase of the NAHDEP which is to be run as a pilot to deliver 1,400 housing units across the six geopolitical zones in the country.”

Dangiwa reiterated that each zone would have 200 houses with 100 units in two selected states, adding that Katsina is one of the benefiting states due to its tremendous contributions to the National Housing Fund (NHF).

On his part, the state Governor Aminu Bello Masari said the state in collaboration with stakeholders, constructed 500 housing units in line with the culture and religion of people in the state.

“We are also planning to construct hundreds of housing units in seven old local governments of the state,” he said.

The event climaxed with the distribution of N266.5 million cheques to 318 beneficiaries under the FMBN Home Renovation Loan.

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NEWS

Court orders ICPC to unfreeze Pinnacle Communications’ account

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The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered ICPC to unfreeze the account of Pinnacle Communications Limited and counselled anti-corruption agencies of government against taking drastic action that could prevent private enterprises from flourishing prior to concluding investigations to justify such action.

Delivering his ruling in the case instituted against ICPC by Pinnacle Communications Limited for instructing Zenith Bank to freeze it’s account Friday, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba maintained that the anti-corruption war was as beneficial to the society as flourishing private enterprises pointing out that scuttling the operations of major private organizations like Pinnacle Communications Limited also sends negative signals to the international community about Nigeria’s business environment.

Justice Dimgba described ICPC’s action against Pinnacle Communications Limited as “an overkill just like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly” considering that even after six months since the case was instituted and despite lèeway provided by many adjournments by the court, ICPC could not file any charges against the company, emphasizing that it should not have frozen the account without establishing a prima facie against it.

The judge remarked that anti-corruption agencies should not base their actions on rumours or “beer parlour stories” but on thorough investigations that could sustain judicial scrutiny

It would be recalled the media was agog over a statement credited to the spokesperson of the ICPC, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, who claimed that the agency is investigating an alleged N2.5bn fraud levelled against the DG of NBC, Dr Moddibo Kawu, and other top officials of the corporation.

She added that the money involved was a grant released to the agency by the Federal Government for its digital switch-over programme.

The statement further said “The Presidency in 2016, released N10bn to the Ministry of Information and Culture for the digital switch-over programme which entails migration of telephone lines from analogue to digital platforms and a White Paper was issued directing that the process be specifically handled by government-affiliated companies.

“Based on the guidelines provided by the White Paper, two companies were nominated to handle the process, one of which was ITS, an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority. N1.7bn was released to it as seed grant for the commencement of the switch-over.  Okoduwa added that the agency discovered that the process was fraught with alleged corrupt practices.”

The statement also alleged that Kawu fraudulently recommended a private company, Pinnacle Communications Limited, to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, for the release of the money against the guidelines contained in the said White Paper.

The ICPC’s statement was debunked in a statement by the spokesperson of NBC, Hajia Maimuna Jimada, She said “The NBC is not aware of any fraud case involving the DG, and therefore not aware of any ICPC investigation on the DG.”

Jimada said the commission had been carrying out the digital switch-over scheme with utmost diligence and transparency, and would continue to do until the project is completed across the country.

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