-Says EFCC Not After Olagunju
The Management of Bank of Industry (BoI) has refuted recent media report that the bank was being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged illegal sale of properties and shares belonging to the financial organization.
The Bank also denied that its Ag. Managing Director, Waheed Olagunju, had been evading arrest by operatives of the EFCC who had reportedly visited the bank’s head office in Lagos in connection with the alleged illegal assets deal.
These explanations were made at a press briefing addressed by Mr. Olagunju in the company of members of the bank’s top management in Lagos.
According to Olagunju, government had introduced a special levy on imported cement some years ago.
He explained that the proceeds of the levy were meant to develop local capacity in cement production under the auspices of Cement Technology Institute of Nigeria (CTIN).
The BoI was appointed in 2009 to manage the fund that accrued from the levy which enabled it to grant loans to deserving applicants engaged in the cement value chain.
Olagunju explained: “As and when the fund was released, the BoI granted loans to entrepreneurs in the cement value chain, specifically for investment in risk assets in the cement industry’s value-chain.
“Between 2011 and 2015, the Federal Government transferred N9.6bn to the BoI based on an earlier scheme as approved by the Federal Government.
“When the CTIN was later established, the BoI was in 2013 asked to transfer the fund to the CTIN’s account with a private commercial bank.
The directive was however not carried out by the then management of the bank, the Ag. MD/CEO explained.
Olagunji said that BoI’s failure to effect the transfer led to the management of CTIN petitioning the Presidency in November 2015.
The controversy, he further explained, was later resolved between CTIN and BoI (after his appointment as Ag. MD/CEO), as both parties agreed to BoI managing the fund under re-negotiated terms and conditions.
He added, “In late 2015, the CTIN petitioned the Presidency following which an investigative panel was established. However, the BoI management has since resolved the matter.”
Debunking claims that he absconded when the anti-graft agency operatives visited his office, Olagunju said he was attending a stakeholders’ forum on the National Automotive Industry Development Plan at the Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Olagunju explained that BoI being a key stakeholder in the automotive industry and manager of the National Automotive Council’s Fund, his presence was highly needed at the event and this was communicated to the EFCC.
The Ag. MD/CEO said he returned to the office when the event ended later in the evening and took part in the bank’s scheduled management meeting that lasted till 12.30am, by which time officials of the anti-graft agency had left the bank.
According to him, he eventually reported at the EFCC office (in Lagos) to honour its summons during which he presented documents to show that the issues about the CTIN fund had been resolved by all the stakeholders concerned.
“I am known all over the country; my face is everywhere in the media; I did not run away and I cannot run away,” Olagunju said at the press briefing.
The BoI boss said that contrary to the media report, no member of staff was detained by the EFCC operatives because he “evaded arrest”.
Documents made available to The UNION showed that the visit by the EFCC operatives to the BoI head office at Marina, Lagos, was not in connection with alleged sale of the bank’s properties and shares as reported by a national daily.