Shareholder Drags Continental Reinsurance CEO to Court
By Dipo Olowookere
Managing Director of Continental Reinsurance Plc, Mr Femi Oyetunji, has been dragged before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos by a shareholder of the company.
The aggrieved shareholder identified as Mr Maduka Kanma Okafor alleged that the Managing Director has been running the firm without following due process.
Mr Okafor, who claimed to have 19,890,013 shares in Continental Reinsurance Plc, said he was relieved of his position as Deputy General Manager, in charge of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Department of the insurer in August 2016 by Mr Oyetunji.
In the suit filed by his counsel, Sonnie Ekwowusi, with five directors of the company joined as co-respondents, the petitioner said he practically built the company’s ICT from the scratch with so many positive ground breaking records from when he was employed in July 1993.
However, Mr Okafor alleged further that when Dr Oyetunji joined the company in January 2010 and became its group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, he went all out to dismantle the cost saving mechanisms of the company as well as abolish the pre -existing progressive structure and Corporate Governance structure system set up by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the board of the company, by always favouring a South African company called Dimension Data to execute the ICT contract of the company even though the tender of the South African company was unbelievably high and its solutions non-futuristic and often not the best.
Mr Okafor stated that because of Dr Oyetunji’s personal interest in favour of Dimension Data and its subsidiary namely Internet Solution mentioned some particular projects which were executed to the detriment of the insurance company and its shareholders.
In the year 2016, Dr Oyetunji was alleged to have paid three extra budgetary bill in quick succession to Dimension Data to repeat the ICT audit which was earlier successfully completed, in excess of $100,000 followed by another $12,000 and another N12,825,000 all unbudgeted and unjustifiable.
It was further alleged that around the year 2012, Dr Oyetunji cause the finance department of Continental Reinsurance company to give a personal loan an unsecured one at that in the sum of N12 million to his friend and proprietor of the Ember Creek Night Club, Mr Abbey Ford.
He claimed the loan was not repaid, rather expectedly, it was written off.
However, following the Petitioner’s lawyer letter to the board of the insurance company in the last quarter of 2016, the board investigated and affirmed that Dr Oyetunji indeed illegally gave the aforesaid loan and consequently, the board has since ordered that the money be recovered by him.
When Dr Oyetunji was employed in 2010 by the company, the board approved the sum of N20 million to purchase two company vehicles for the use of the company.
This amount at that time was appropriate and sufficiently budgeted to purchase a v8 Toyota Land Cruiser and Toyota Avensis 2.0 liter engine vehicles, but he chose to purchase a Range Rover Vogue, which cost less than about N18 million, the petitioner alleged.
He then demanded and got the balance of N2 million in cash and further brought in one of his used cars, (a Honda Pilot) which had been in use for so many years, and put it in the maintainance pool as his second entitled car. In acting in this manner, he did not seek any authorization from the board of directors of the company, Mr Okafor alleged further in his petition.
He said the illegally, oppressive, discriminating and high-handedness of Dr Oyetunji at the company to the acquiesce of the board of Directors became so unbearable that one Mr Abdul-Rasheed Akolade, who was Senior Manager (Life) at the company at that time had to tender his letter of resignation. In his email, he said he was resigning because of the illegality and abuse of corporate governance at the insurance company.
In violation of corporate governance to the detriment of the shareholding interest of the petitioner, the Managing Director exclusively diverted the catering services of the company and all soft supplies and sundry contrast to his sister/cousin namely, Folake Oyetunji, who also signs as Folake Adesanya through her various business names at patently uncompetitive prices, Folake Oyetunji, without proper bidding, variously was awarded contracts by the Managing Director, he alleged.
According to him, all the decision presented to the board of the company as management decisions are never discussed by the management.
Mr Okafor averred that he has invested about 20 million shares in the Continental Reinsurance company, which constitute a significant part of his life savings and investment and that if unnecessary wastages and eroding of the reserve of the company by the Managing Director as averred above are remain unchecked, the petitioner would loose all his live savings and investment in the company.
Consequently, Mr Okafor prays the court as follows :
A declaration that Dr Oyetunji, contrary to the memorandum and articles of Continental Reinsurance Plc, runs the company in a manner that is illegal, oppressive and unfairly prejudicial and discriminatory to him.
An order directing Dr Oyetunji to account for all the personal profits and unnecessary benefits derived by him in the course of his management of the company
An order directing an investigation /inquiry to be made into the management and affairs of the company by the Managing Director.
However, in a counter affidavit against the petition sworn to by the Head, Human Resources and Admin Department of Continental Reinsurance, Dr Segun Ajibewa, and filed before the court by Barrister Olayemi Badewole, the deponent, while denying almost all the deposition of Mr Okafor, averred that the petitioner lack credible evidence to support this petition.
He also contended that the petition is an abused of court process as the petitioner had earlier filed a petition before the court which was dismissed with a cost of N50,000.
Dr Ajibewa further averred that the petitioner lacks the legal capacity to institute this petition seeking reliefs for the benefit of the company.
The petitioner was fairly treated as he was paid his severance package timely, but the petitioner upon the disengagement of his employment acted contrary to his duty to maintain confidentiality of the company’s corporate information and disclosed sensitive corporate information of the company’s business operations, management and board to his lawyer.
Meanwhile, the presiding judge has adjourned till June 4, 2018 for hearing.
Additional information from Today.ng
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Others Plunge as US Sues Binance, Founder
By Adedapo Adesanya
The cryptocurrency market is under fresh headwinds as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused Binance and its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Changpeng Zhao, of mishandling customer funds, misleading investors and regulators, as well as breaking securities rules.
Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and a host of other digital coins are now trading at their lowest in almost three months.
The US SEC complaint filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C., listed 13 charges against Binance, Mr Zhao, and the operator of its purportedly independent US exchange.
The agency laid out a range of alleged violations against the world’s biggest crypto exchange and its leader and warned that “The public should beware of investing any of their hard-earned assets with or on these unlawful platforms.”
The SEC alleged that Binance artificially inflated its trading volumes, diverted customer funds, failed to restrict US customers from its platform and misled investors about its market surveillance controls.
The SEC also claimed that Binance and its billionaire founder and one of the crypto industry’s highest-profile moguls, secretly controlled customers’ assets, allowing them to commingle and divert investor funds “as they please.”
Binance created separate US entities “as part of an elaborate scheme to evade U.S. federal securities laws,” the SEC also alleged, citing a number of practices first reported by Reuters in a series of investigations into the exchange published this year and in 2022.
From almost three years ago until June 2022, the SEC also alleged that a trading firm owned and controlled by Mr Zhao, Sigma Chain, engaged in so-called wash trading that artificially inflated the trading volume of crypto asset securities on the Binance.US platform. The SEC said Sigma Chain spent $11 million from an account on a yacht.
SEC Chair Gary Gensler said, “We allege that Zhao and Binance entities engaged in an extensive web of deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law.”
In a blog post, Binance, in its defence, said: “We intend to defend our platform vigorously,” adding that “because Binance is not a US exchange, the SEC’s actions are limited in reach.”
“All user assets on Binance and Binance affiliate platforms, including Binance.US, are safe and secure,” the blog post said.
In the statement, Binance said it had “actively cooperated” with the SEC from the start and respectfully disagreed with the SEC’s allegations.
Binance said it had been trying to find a “reasonable resolution” with the SEC, but the agency “at the eleventh hour” issued new requests and went to court, adding the SEC’s actions appeared to be an effort to “claim jurisdictional ground from other regulators.”
As the events continue to unfold, the market is reacting negatively as BTC has lost over 4.1 per cent in the last 24 hours to trade at $25,721.67 while ETH has lost 3.00 per cent to $1,817.01 while Binance Coin (BNB), Binance’s token, has lost nearly 8 per cent of its value as it trades at $277.33.
Other tokens like Cardano (ADA), Solana (SOL), Litecon (LTC), Polygon (MATIC), and Dogecoin (DOGE) have also lost more than 6-7 per cent of their respective values.
BUA Cement Gets $500m for Two New Production Lines
By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria’s second-largest cement producer, BUA Cement, has gotten a $500 million financing package from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to develop two new production lines in Sokoto State.
In what is IFC’s largest-ever investment in northern Nigeria, the financing package, which saw input from African and European partners to BUA Cement Plc, will help the company part-finance and develop two new, energy-efficient cement production lines that will create up to 12,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The funding includes a $160.5 million loan from IFC’s account, a $94.5 million loan through the Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (MCPP), and $245 million in parallel loans from syndication partners; the African Development Bank (AfDB) – $100 million, the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) – $100 million, and the German Investment Corporation, Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) – $45 million.
The financing was announced during the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
It was disclosed that the plants would run partly on alternative fuels derived from waste and solar power. Each will produce about three million tons of cement annually when complete, serving markets in Nigeria, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
Speaking on this, Mr Abdul Samad Rabiu, Chairman and Founder of BUA Group, said that “BUA is delighted to partner with IFC and other esteemed institutions in securing this $500 million facility to develop energy-efficient cement production capacity and strengthen our equipment and logistics capabilities in northern Nigeria.
“In line with our commitment to sustainability and ESG principles, this investment will create jobs and contribute to economic and infrastructural development within Nigeria and the greater Sahel region.
“We are particularly pleased to have successfully gone through the rigorous process with IFC, AfDB, AFC, and DEG, which validates our responsible business practices. By focusing on greener fuels and enhancing our equipment and logistics platform, BUA Cement is building a foundation for sustainable infrastructure growth and a more inclusive society,” he said.
“We are pleased to join with our partners to support BUA with an investment that will boost industrialization, create jobs and deliver economic growth in northern Nigeria, a region with significant economic potential,” said Mr Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director.
Investing in northern Nigeria is integral to IFC’s strategy to promote sustainable development in underserved regions. This includes areas with limited opportunities and a need for increased private-sector engagement.
The new plants will provide local developers with a reliable and affordable source of cement, and bolster the construction of essential infrastructure, fostering economic growth and prosperity for the region.
The project is expected to create about 1,000 direct jobs and 10,800 indirect jobs. Direct jobs include those in manufacturing, engineering, and advanced automation systems. Indirect jobs include those in the cleaning, maintenance, mining, and transportation sectors.
The financing package will also allow BUA to replace some of its diesel trucks with vehicles that are run partly on natural gas, over time producing fewer emissions. As part of the project, IFC will also advise BUA on developing a gender-inclusive workplace strategy that creates more opportunities for women across its operations.
“Following an initial $200 million investment in BUA Group in 2021, we are proud to play another key role in this landmark manufacturing project to transform northern Nigeria’s construction sector and the entire country. Investing in this project will sustainably build Nigeria’s local manufacturing capacity, empower local communities, and create employment opportunities. AFC is committed to working with our partners to accelerate development impact through infrastructure solutions that support value addition, industrialization, and job creation throughout Africa,” added Mr Samaila Zubairu, CEO & President of Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).
“The African Development Bank is pleased to be partnering with IFC and BUA on this expansion project as it is aligned with our priority strategies of industrializing Africa and improving the quality of lives of Africans through the increase in cement production, which will lead to the development of additional affordable housing and critical infrastructure in Nigeria and neighbouring West African countries while supporting the use of cleaner energy at BUA’s Sokoto facility,” said Mr Solomon Quaynor, Vice President of AfDB’s Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization arm.
“DEG’s mission is to be a reliable partner to private sector enterprises as drivers of development and creators of qualified jobs. We are pleased to contribute to this transaction together with our development finance partner institutions. Together we support BUA in its transformation towards a more sustainable production by implementing innovative technology. The significant reduction of CO2 emissions and the creation of decent jobs in a region with many vulnerable households are key factors for DEG’s financing,” said Mr Gunnar Stork, Senior Director at DEG.
The investment in BUA is part of IFC’s strategy to promote diversified, inclusive growth and job creation in Nigeria, where IFC supports the manufacturing agribusiness, healthcare, infrastructure, technology, and financial services sectors. IFC has an active investment portfolio of $2.3 billion in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s OTC Stock Market Depreciates by 1.40%
By Adedapo Adesanya
The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange opened the week in the negative territory as the bourse witnessed a 1.40 per cent loss on Monday, June 5.
This was influenced by the sole price loser, FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc, which fell by N4.00 to sell at N71.00 per unit compared with the preceding session’s N75.00 per unit.
The milk-producing firm pushed down the efforts of Niger Delta Exploration and Production (NDEP) Plc and Industrial and General Insurance (IGI) Plc to lift the OTC stock market.
NDEP gained N1.16 during the session to finish at N246.21 per share versus N245.05 per share, and IGI Plc appreciated by 1 Kobo to 8 Kobo from 7 Kobo.
At the close of business, the market capitalisation of the bourse decreased by N14.30 billion to N1.008 trillion from N1.022 trillion, and the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) recorded a 10.35 points decline to wrap the session at 728.86 points compared with 739.21 points of the previous session.
Amid the weak sentiment, there was a 1,768.8 per cent rise in the volume of securities traded at the bourse yesterday to 22.7 million units from the previous trading session’s N1.2 million, the value of shares transacted by investors rose by 151.0 per cent to N142.9 million from the N56.9 million reported last Friday, as the number of deals surged by 500.0 per cent to 48 deals from eight deals.
Geo-Fluids Plc remained the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 832.1 million units worth N1.3 billion, followed by IGI Plc with 628.3 units valued at N49.5 million, and UBN Property Plc with 395.9 million units valued at N336.6 million.
Similarly, VFD Group Plc was the most traded stock by value (year-to-date) with 11.0 million units valued at N2.5 billion, trailed by Geo-Fluids Plc with 832.1 million units worth N1.3 billion, and FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc with the sale of 17.1 million units worth N1.2 billion.
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