Connect with us

News

How allegations of ghost workers sparked off ‘war’ in EKEDC! *See details

Published

on

It has emerged that the recent war within the fold of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) Plc top management, was the direct outcome of a sharp disagreement between the electricity distributor and West Power & Gas Ltd (WPG Ltd), its parent company over the allegations of fraud, particularly the existence of ghost-workers.

The crisis had reached a head when Dere Otubu, Chairman of the Board of the company, fired Tinuade Sanda, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD-CEO), citing an alleged directive by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) that all staff of EKEDC, must be sourced from within and nobody should be on secondment.

The letter, dated March 25, and entitled: Implementation of NERC Directive on Seconded Staff, dated March 25 read in part: “We have received a NERC (Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission) directive dated March 21, 2024, which instructed Eko Electricity Distribution Plc inter alia:

“EKDC is hereby directed to ensure that all staff working for the utility are employed by the utility directly, bound by applicable service conditions that are applicable to the employees of the utility and paid through the utilities payroll.

Advertisement

“The Disco is obliged to obey these directives due to the power of NERC as stipulated in the Electricity Act 2023. In compliance with the above directive, all seconded staff from WPG Ltd are being released by Eko Electricity Distribution Plc and returned to WPG Ltd.

“You are hereby relieved of your role, office and position at Eko Electricity Distribution Plc effective immediately and returned to WPG Ltd, your employer.”

Babatunde Lasaki, EKEDC’s, General Manager, Corporate Communications and Strategy, had subsequently released a statement, announcing what he said was the board’s decision to appoint Rekhiat Momoh, Sanda’s replacement, though in acting capacity, a statement which was promptly countered by Babor Egeregor Director/Chairman, Legal and Regulatory Committee of the board, who said that Sanda remained on his job as CEO/MD and that her removal and replacement with Momoh by Otubu, were of no effect, NERC gave no such directive as cited by Otubu.

Latest revelations, however showed that the company’s management had been embroiled in internal crisis over who should deal with the case of internal investigation over the allegation of fraud, particularly that of the ghost-workers within its fold between EKEDC and WPG, before the matter finally blew out in the open.

See also  You’ve continued Buhari’s war against Ndigbo, Clark chides Tinubu

It is said that following the escalation of the alleged fraud by Sandas, in November, George Etomi, WPG Chairman, had on December 5, fired a letter to one Wole Joseph-Condotti, one of the staff seconded to EKEDC, recalling him from his duty as the Chief Legal Officer (CLO), to enable thorough investigation, which Otubu, the company’s boss asked him to ignore.

Advertisement

Otubu, on the same December 5, 2023, while in countering Etomi’s letter, entitled Letter of recall from your position as Chief Legal Officer (CLO) in Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc (EKEDP) pending an investigation into alleged misconduct,

wrote: “Dear Wola, I was copied in a letter from the Chairman of WPG dated 5th of Dec 2023 recalling you from the position of Chief Legal Officer to Eko Disco. Kindly disregard this letter in its entirety. Eko Disco will continue with the process of looking into the matter. Eko Disco MD who is copied should note accordingly.

However, Etomi, firing back, expressed “shock” at Otubu’s counter letter, had insisted that the rights to recall and or discipline staff are consequential rights of WPG as the CLO’s employer, stressing that the said letter constituted standard practice in such cases, pending the conclusion of the investigation and determination of the matter.

He wrote: Kindly be aware that the issues that have necessitated the recall are very grievous and nothing whatsoever should be done to condone or cover them up. Without prejudice to whatever action you want to take, WPG will go ahead to conduct a full investigation into the matter and I advise all our nominees on the EKEDC Board not to lend themselves to any cover up. The instruction to recall stands and ignoring it will be at the peril of whoever does so.”

The next day, December 6, 2023, Otubu, returned the “surprise” via his own letter to Etomi, saying: “I’m kindly surprised at your letter as I had spoken to you on why your “letter of Recall” should never have been issued in the first place and was therefore disregarded.

Advertisement

“I had pointed out to you that it was clearly improper for you to “singlehandedly” issue instructions of such significance on behalf of WPG and on a matter that relates to you without wide consultations. Furthermore, these instructions are to officers in a separate company “Eko Disco, with significant government shareholding and its processes, Issuing threats to Eko Disco staff is kindly ill advised and of no value. I would therefore kindly request you to allow us the space to conduct the investigation properly.”

See also  We’ve made Wike and his men sleepless – Fubara

Not wasting time, Etomi fired back in return on the same December 6, 2023, stating: “Let me remind you that when you spoke to me it was more about how this matter can be suppressed and I told you very clearly that I would not stand for that.”

Another mail from Simon Ani to Ernest and Otubu on December 13, 2023 shed more light to the ongoing squabble, after he wrote, his own epistle, part of which read: Ernest you have a good point and I agree with you, but you will also note that George (Etomi) has called for a WPG meeting on the 19th and this matter is already listed on the agenda. And in one of George’s (Etomi) mails, to Dere (Otubu), George has already said he will recuse himself/ But your point was in order.

“Chairman D (Otubu) I’m sorry to say but honestly, I think your mails are ill-advised and inappropriate for two reasons. WPG has written earlier this year to all of us Directors on Eko Board, clarifying that we are there representing WPG’s interest.

“WPG employed all senior management. Wola is one of them. And under the O&M Agreement, WPG has overall supervisory responsibility for Eko. The moment we undermine constitutes authority, we also in the process create room for our own authority to be undermined.”

Advertisement

But Otubu, unrelenting in a mail dates Dec 28, 2023 to Tunji Olowolafe entitled: Terms of reference for investigation committee, wrote: Dear Chairman HR, I refer to the directive of the board for the HR Committee to investigate the allegations made against the CL, Pls find attached the terms of reference.

But Egeregor in a mail same day expressed divergent opinions to the mails on ‘Terms of reference for the investigation committee.

He wrote: Dr-(Chairman Investigation Committee), I feel I should urgently raise my objections on the mail you sent to us which had an email trail from Mr. Dere Otubu highlighting what he (Otubu) referred to as ‘Terms of Reference.’ It might interest you to know that this supposed Terms of Reference emanating from Mr. Otubu is at best, his sole idea and completely at variance with the board resolution asking us to investigate the CLO and the allegations of ghost workers as raised by the MD.

See also  BREAKING: Tinubu mum on Nnamdi Kanu, fail to proclaim new minimum wage

In another mail by Egeregor later the same day, he wrote: Dr. Please deliberating on this extraneous Terms of Reference as singularly and surreptitiously introduced by Mr Otubu who openly admitted to being conflicted will be tantamount to delonerating on falsehood and illegality.”

On January14, 2024, Otubu wrote to Sanda: I acknowledge receipt of your message about the information in Sahara Reporters relating to the petition of ghost workers. Kindly note that as MD, your primary responsibility is to protect the company from attacks such as this. You are kindly instructed to take action and protect the integrity and image of the company, the directors, shareholders and all stakeholders from such attacks.’

Advertisement

Sanda on January 15, 2024 replied to Otubu: “Thank you for your below mail, and trusting this email meets you well. As the MD, I have at all times taken steps to ensure the protection of the company’s integrity and brand, which was why I initiated the ghost workers queries in the first place after I was alerted by a whistleblower within the company and did some investigations.

“There can be no doubt whatever of my understanding of the MD’s role and my consistent defence of the company at all times, whether in crises such as the present matter or in relation to NERC or any other party. I always protect the integrity and image of the company at all times and continue to do so unflinchingly.

“However, it is clear that the staff are anxious to know how the matter will be investigated and decided. This has been their clamour since this matter was escalated to me in November 2023.

“There is a feeling of resentment amongst staff at the way the company handled previous instance of job abandonment for a relatively small amount, yet here, a senior officer has been accused on a similar issue, and for such larger sums of money, yet no visible actions. There is a strong and growing perception of injustice and double standards.”

Advertisement

News

BREAKING: One week after US Congress threat, Court frees, Binance boss

Published

on

Exactly one week after the US Congress, moved against Nigeria, Tigran Gambaryan, Head of Financial Crime Compliance of Binance, was let off the hook on Friday, as the Federal Government, dropped charges against him, with a Federal High Court in Abuja, discharging him on the four-count charge of financial crimes.

Sixteen members of the US Congress, had last week, written a letter of protest to President Joe Biden, demanding his intervention into the case of Gambaryan, who holds US citizenship, who they said was in danger of losing his life under terrible conditions in detention in Nigeria, while insisting on his immediate release.

The letter had alleged that Gambaryan, “has been wrongfully detained since late February after granting the Nigerian government’s request for discussions regarding the crypto giant’s business in the country. The government of Nigeria took Mr. Gambaryan hostage and thus needs his government’s help to be freed.”

Raising alarm over the state of his health, the group of lawmakers, which said: “Mr. Gambaryan’s health and well-being are in danger, and we fear for his life. Immediate action is essential to ensure his safety and preserve his life. We must act swiftly before it is too late,” had emphasised “on behalf of Mr. Gambaryan, his family, and concerned Americans, we, the undersigned, urgently request and strongly encourage the transfer of his case to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.”

Advertisement

Confirming that the government had dropped the charges against the Binance boss, on Friday, Dare Adekanmbi, spokesman to the FIRS, said: “Please note that the charges are being dropped against the second and the third defendants in the matter,” adding that the accused had been confirmed not to be a decision-maker at the cryptocurrency firm.

See also  NNPCL on song, as NETCO posts 137% profit rise in 2023

He said in a statement: “We are relieved that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has served and filed amended charges today, resulting in tax charges against Tigran Gambaryan being dropped. Further illustrating that Tigran is not a decision-maker at Binance and does not need to be held in order for Binance to resolve issues with the Nigerian government. We await the court’s ruling on this, discharging Tigran from this matter completely.”

Elsewhere in court, the Federal High Court sealed the freedom of the accused, whose ordeal began on February 28, with Justice Emeka Nwite, discharging him of all the charges, bothering on tax evasion charge preferred against the company by Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Nwite, in a ruling, discharged and struck out the names of Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, who had since fled Nigeria, after escaping from detention, in March, after Moses Ideho, lawyer to the FIRS, filed a fresh amended charge wherein Binance is listed as sole defendant.

Gambaryan, who was in court during Friday’s proceedings, had stepped into the dock, when Tonye Krukrubo, SAN, who appeared for Binance (1st defendant), then informed the court that the cryptocurrency firm had just appointed a representative in Nigeria in the name of Ayodele Omotilewa.

Advertisement

Ideho, who confirmed that his office received a notice of appointment of a representative by Binance, also told the court that the notice was dated June 13, 2024, appointing Ayodele Omotilewa as its agent in the country, adding that against the development, an amended four-count charge listing Binance Holdings Limited as sole defendant was filed on June 13 and therefore Omotilewa should be docked to take a plea on behalf of the company.

See also  Tinubu a symbol of collective suffering

But Krukrubo in vehement disagreement argued that the company’s representative was yet to be served with the fresh amended charge, said Omotilewa was only appearing in court for the first time, adding: “I think my learner friend should confirm whether he has served him or not first. We are not there yet. The prosecution has not served us with the amended charges. He ought not to enter the dock. He was appointed for specific purposes, to receive processes. He is one of us; a legal practitioner. The proper thing for the prosecution to do is to address the court on the charge he intended to substitute.

Also arguing in the same direction, C.J. Caleb, who appeared for Gambaryan, argued that law on criminal trial of a corporation did not contemplate that a corporation or its representative should be in the dock, while the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJA) Act, particularly Part 47, was very clear on how a trial should proceed in respect of a corporation.

“The Act also specifies all that is required for a representative in criminal trial in Sections 478 , 481, 482 and 483. So I align with my learner colleague that the representative is enough to be in court but does have to be in the dock,” he said.

Ideho, however disagreed, citing Section 481 of ACJA to back his argument, while adding: “If my lord is to look carefully at the provisions of this section and subsection, a representative cannot just sit in the gallery and watch like a spectator how the trial is conducted. He should be in the dock because this is a criminal charge not civil matter.”

Advertisement
See also  You’ve continued Buhari’s war against Ndigbo, Clark chides Tinubu

But, Krukrubo while jumping into the matter, argued that there was no where in the section cited by Ideho where it was said that a company’s representative must be in the dock, adding: Section 481 is written in black and white and it does not say that a representative of a corporation must be in dock. What he is saying is not contemplated by ACJA.”

When Nwite directed Ideho to move the latest application, the FIRS, lawyer, said: “We will like to amend and substitute the charge with the earlier one of May 17, 2024, which was our last amended charge my lord,” which neither Krukrubo, nor Caleb, opposed.

Subsequently, Caleb applied that the court should strike out the two earlier charges that listed his client, Gambaryan, as 2nd defendant, dated March 22 and the amended charge dated May 17, adding that Gambaryan should be discharged from the dock and from the proceedings in its entirety.

Nwite, before adjourning the matter to July 12 for pleas, granted the Federal Government’s request for the substitution of the June 13 amended charge for the May 17 one, set aside the earlier order, directing Gambaryan to be served on behalf of the company, and thereafter discharged him from the dock, while ordering parties to file written addresses as to whether Binance representative should be docked or not.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

News

NLNG signs agreement for new cooking gas vessel

Published

on

Shipping and Marine Services Limited (NSML), a subsidiary of the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) and Temile Development Company Limited on Tuesday, signed a Vessel Management Agreement (VMA) to provide comprehensive vessel technical management services for the new 23,000 cubic metre LPG vessel, LPG Alfred Temile 10.

At a ceremony in Abuja, NSML’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Abdulkadir Ahmed, and Temile’s Chief Executive Officer, Alfred Temile, signed the VMA at the event, witnessed by Adegboyega Oyetola, Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, represented by Ekanem Ogegere Celia, Deputy Director, Cabotage and Shipping; Felix Omatsola Ogbe, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board; Andy Odeh, General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development; Salihu Jamari, Chief Investment Officer, NNPC Gas & Power Investment Services, among others.

Speaking at the milestone event, NSML’s MD, Ahmed, emphasised that NSML will leverage its expertise and resources to ensure the safe, reliable, and efficient operation of the Alfred Temile 10. He stated that the relationship with Temile Development Company started with the delivery of the first LPG vessel – LPG Alfred Temile – to NLNG in 2020.

“The relationship grew and continued with the construction, supervision and delivery of the 2nd LPG Vessel – Alfred Temile 10 – to Nigeria in March 2024. This momentous occasion represents our shared commitment to excellence, safety, and innovation in the maritime industry. It also represents the tenacious can-do-spirit of Mr Alfred Temile who has grown his LPG vessel fleet within a span of four (4) years. The Alfed Temile 10 is a testament to our dedication to operating a modern, efficient, and environmentally responsible fleet. With its cutting-edge design and technology, this vessel will set a new standard for LPG transportation in Nigeria and the West Africa,” he said.

Advertisement
See also  BREAKING: Again, court hits Wike’s lawmakers, kills LG amendment

Also speaking at the event, Mr. Temile, stressed that the new vessel will play a critical role in gas transportation in Nigeria, enhancing the company’s capacity to deliver high-quality services while adhering to the highest standards of safety and environmental stewardship.

“We are confident that this partnership will set a new benchmark in the industry, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. As we embark on this new chapter, we also anticipate further strategic investment decisions including a third gas carrier later this year, demonstrating our commitment to deliver sustainable growth and value to our shareholders and Nigeria,” he added.

The keynote speaker, Engr. Felix Ogbe, commended NSML and Temile Development Company for partnering together. He stressed that there was ample human capacity, resources and tenacity in-country to achieve great feats, calling for increased colloboration and cooperation in the maritime industry.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

News

Presidency to get two new aircraft for Tinubu, Shettima

Published

on

President Bola Tinubu and Vice President, Kashim Shettima, would be cruising in brand new aircraft soon, going by the indications coming from the National Assembly, which has announced its approval to allow the acquisition of two of the flying birds for the Presidency.

The House of Representatives, which gave indications on Wednesday, explained that the need to acquire the aircrafts was to ensure maximum security for the President and his deputy, as part of its findings after an audit of the presidential fleet currently serving the two principal officers of the nation.

The House relying on the recommendations of its committee on National Security and Intelligence, said: “The committee is of the strong and informed opinion that considering the fragile structure of the Nigerian federation and recognising the dire consequences of any foreseen or unforeseen mishap that may arise as a result of technical/operational inadequacy of the presidential air fleet, it is in the best interest of the country to procure two additional aircraft as recommended.

“This will also prove to be most cost-efficient in the long run apart from the added advantage of providing a suitable, comfortable and safe carrier befitting of the status and responsibilities of the office of the president and vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Advertisement

The investigation, which was sequel to the inability of the VP to travel with his aircraft in May this year owing to technical faults, was instigated by a motion by Satomi Ahmed, member from Jere Federal Constituency of Borno State, who had raised an alarm over the matter, on the floor of the House, leading to a comprehensive investigation being ordered by the members.

See also  Tinubu a symbol of collective suffering

Despite the heated debates over the matter, with some lawmakers, who were uncomfortable with the suggestion, citing the current poor economic situation in the country, urging the Tinubu and Shettima to use commercial aircrafts of travel by road, Ahmed explained that the proposal remained the best solution at the moment.

The committee had met the commanders of the Presidential fleet, when Shettima, was forced to use a chartered plane from the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia during his recent trip abroad, after initially cancelling a trip to the US to represent Tinubu at the 2024 US-Africa business summit.

Ahmed, who told reporters on Wednesday that the committee would set up a technical committee to interface with the officials at the presidential air fleet and come up with a resolution.

Reports say the six aircraft currently in the Presidential fleet, include one Boeing 737 (19 years old, currently unserviceable and undergoing maintenance); one Gulfstream G550 (13 years old, in good condition), one Gulfstream GV (23 years old, unserviceable); two Falcon 7Xs (one serviceable, one unserviceable); and one Challenger CL605 (12 years old, serviceable).

Advertisement

The helicopter fleet includes two Agusta 139s (17 and 18 years old, both unserviceable); four Agusta 189s (no information on their condition).

Continue Reading

Trending