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Why EFCC detained First Bank Holdings MD designate, Okonkwo

The arrest and detention of the newly appointed Managing Director of the First Bank Holdings Plc, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo by  the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) may not be unconnected with his role in the transfer of $153.3 million from the purse of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company(NNPC) to Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum.

EFCC arrested and detained Okonkwo over the weekend and is spending his fourth day in detention. An online newspaper, Premium Times earlier reported that arrest and detention.

First bank holdings was recently enmeshed with boardroom politics on who owns the controlling shares of the bank. Okonkwo emerged as the new helmsman to oversee the management of the bank in the aftermath of the boardroom crisis. Watchers are therefore keen to discover if the arrest was connected to the boardroom politics.

This is not the first time EFCC will detained Okonkwo. The agency on April 28, 2016 detained him over the same matter and later slammed a 14-count charge, including money laundering, on him. The status of the case is unclear as of the time of filing this report on Sunday morning.

It is therefore not if there are fresh evidences against the banker which has now necessitated a fresh round of investigation. EFCC officials contacted declined to provide details.

The board of FBN Holdings Plc had on October 28 appointed Mr Okonkwo the new GMD of the company with effect from January 1, 2022. He will succeed U.K. Eke, who will step down on December 31, according to the company’s note to the Nigerian Exchange Limited.

The board decision came five days after the chairman of Geregu Power Plc, Femi Otedola, declared his 5.07 per cent stake in the group, making him a substantial shareholder.

It also came a day after Tunde Hassan-Odukale (FirstBank’s chairman) responded to a query from the exchange to FBN Holdings, seeking clarification on why the shareholding of Mr Hassan-Odukale and related parties were classified into two parts of 4.16 and 1.20 per cent respectively, totalling 5.36 per cent.

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