Former Chairman of Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank), Dr John Olatunde Ayeni has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) asking the anti graft agency to investigate cases of stealing and criminal diversion of company funds against his business partner of more than a decade, Captain Hosa Okubo.
Ayeni particularly want the anti graft agency to investigate how Capt Okubo diverted funds meant for the repayment of $100 million loan to the consortium of banks that funded electricity DISCO in Ibadan and Yola, to fund the just concluded governorship election in Edo State.
He also want the commission to investigate claims by Okubo that he lobbied officials of the presidency and National Assembly with $18 million.
In the petition dated December 7, 2020 and written by his lawyer, Femi Falana SAN, Ayeni narrated how Captain Okubo took advantage of his problems he had in relation to loans on investments made by their company, hijacked the business, left him in the cold and,and stole the funds meant to pay back loans the company took for investment in the electricity sector.
Ayeni narrated how in 2007, a group came together to form Ocean Marine Security Ltd. The group consisted of Ayeni, Okubo, Admiral Joe Aikhomu (represented by his father, Chief Alfred), and Garth Dooley. “The company was incorporated by our client’s (Ayeni) office on January 31, 2007. The company is now known as Ocean Marine Solutions Ltd. The shares in the ownership of the company stand in the following order: Captain Okubo 46%, Ayeni 35%, Dooley 14%, and Aikhomu 5% which was later acquired by Okubo and Ayeni”, stated.
The lawyer turned businessman narrated that when business boomed, Ocean Marine Solutions acquired four other business interests namely, PPP Fluid Mechanics Ltd, Oms Pipeline Ltd, Gyro Air Ltd, and Secured Anchorage Ltd. Both partners also invested in the electricity sector by investing in Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company(IBEDC), and Yola Electricity Distribution Company. However due to the security challenge in the Northeast, where Boko Haram insurgency did not allow the company to function, YEDC was handed back to the Federal Government.
However, trouble started between the duo when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) took over Skye Bank, where Ayeni served as a non-executive chairman, due to financial insolvency. With the takeover, Ayeni ceased to be the chairman, and the bank petitioned over some infractions allegedly committed by the board and management of the bank. This dovetail into criminal proceedings against Ayeni both at the Federal High Court, Abuja, and FCT High Court.
Ayeni claimed that he had to grapple with the cases, a situation that led to his distraction from the operations of the Ocean Marine Solutions Ltd. Okubo took advantage of the criminal trial of his friend to take over signatory, and ownership of the company.
Okubo according to the petition started regaling his partner of how EFCC and other anti graft agencies are nosing around the company due to the criminal trial Ayeni was going through. He therefore persuaded him to sign off his interest in the company to avoid further investigation.
“Captain Okubo told our client that all accounts of the businesses that he was involved with for which he is a signatory was being rumored to be closed because of the trial our client is facing and that it was important for him to step aside from Ocean Marine Solution and his subsidiaries structures as that was the only source of income with which to fund the repayment of over $150 million owed to a consortium of banks led by Polaris Bank over the acquisition of IBEDC, and YEDC as at that time”, the petition stated.
Ayeni thereafter executed an instrument of take over of the board to Captain Okubo. The promise of signing upfront an instrument of return into the board for Ayeni was never fulfilled.
No sooner had he taken over that Captain Okubo started to divert the funds of OMS into other things. In one instance, he. claimed to spend $18 million to lobby the National Assembly and the Presidency on a matter that involved one of the subsidiaries, Secured Anchorage Area.
“Okubo has moved the company account from Polaris Bank to Stanbic-IBTC and abandoned the loan repayment commitment of OMS to the consortium of banks that funded the acquisition of both Yola and Ibadan Discos. No single amount has been paid on the loan which is about $100 million for more than one and a half years”, the petition stated.
Ayeni further accused Okubo that rather than paying back the loans, he diverted OMS funds into the just concluded governorship elections in Edo State. “Our client therefore does not want to suffer twice when the authorities will come after the company and its owners over diversion of company income and concealment of information from the banks the company is obligated to”, the petition further stated.
Ayeni who promised to cooperate with EFCC investigators urged the agency to conduct thorough investigations so that he could get back what rightfully belonged to him.