How Adenuga launders IBB’s money through his bank

magazine_issue_ 37

Perhaps the most persistent subject of suspicion in the Nigerian public space has been the nature of the business relationship between Otunba Mike Adenuga and General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd).

Adenuga owns and directly controls a massive business empire that includes Globacom, ETB, ConOil and several well heeled concerns. Ever since the 1990s when Adenuga started grabbing public attention, most Nigerians have held that Adenuga was simply one of the fronts for the very diverse economic interest of Babangida, the military General who ruled Nigeria with a mixture of guile and violence at a time when the nation’s economy enjoyed a boost of buoyancy especially during the Gulf War. Nigeria is believed to have earned $12billion within a six-month span during the Gulf War (August 1990- February 1991).

However, it would seem the closest an official connection linking Adenuga directly to Babangida as business partners was established in 2006 when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested and questioned Mohammed Babangida, first son of the former military president over his alleged ownership of 24 per cent shareholding of Globacom, the giant telecommunication company owned by Adenuga who was also briefly arrested by the then Nuhu Ribadu led EFCC.

But then, in what would become a characteristic of Adenuga’s engagements with enforcement authorities in Nigeria, the Bull, as he is fondly reverenced by his many admirers, took to his heels and fled Nigeria after he was granted bail. He would not return until a new Federal Government led by Mallam Umar Musa Yar’Adua took charge of the administration of the country.


It is now history that within the first six months of the Yar’Adua administration, Ribadu was hounded out of the EFCC and like many other matters being investigated by the agency, the matter of how Mohammed, the young man who was not known to be engaged in any form of business came about the wealth he used in purchasing his holdings in Globacom was swept under the carpet.


For an ETB’s insider, it is common knowledge that the bank branch in Minna, Niger State, must have been established to serve, especially, the needs of Babangida. According to the source, ETB’s Minna branch is located on Bosso Road, on the outskirts of the capital of Niger State and far away from Paiko Road, the city centre where most bank branches in the state capital are located.

“Of course, most of the customers that come to the Minna branch are very unusual looking people coming to collect manager’s cheques sometimes with value of up to N300million,” the source revealed.

“Most staff of ETB Minna branch have continued to wonder the kind of business the bank has with this odd looking people. When they enter the branch, every thing has to stop as the headquarters in Lagos will be directing us on how to go about making payment to these persons. Most often, we draw manager’s cheque to the value of N300million without even knowing which account to debit. The most important for us anytime any of these fellows come into the bank is just to hand over the cheque to them. It is after they would have collected the cheque that the bank headquarters would tell us to debit an internal account of the bank, that is, an account that belongs to the bank.

“We have all learnt to play dumb; of course, we know where the cheques would end up. What manner of business do we engage in Minna that we would be making such payments, sometimes up to N500million in a week. And this is not to just one person. Different people that are not known to the branch, usually come once and we don’t get to see them again. The names we get to write on the cheques are quite interesting, one would see that names were just being twisted to give them semblance of sequencing. But what can we do? We only relate to these people as directed by the headquarters in Lagos,” the source explained.
“I guess this is one of the issues the CBN/NDIC auditors were concerned with when they examined the books of the bank,” the source added.

An official of the bank that would not want his name in print, however, insisted that the CBN sanctioning of Adenuga was simply another political move by people he refused to identify.
“We don’t want to make this a media issue, we know that it is simply politics at play,” the official said.

What the CBN special examination of ETB revealed

Penultimate week, the Central Bank of Nigeria announced the result of the special examination it had conducted on the second batch of 14 banks it had performed its stress test on. The apex bank had on August 14 announced the sacking of five bank chief executives, in tow with their executive directors, as part of the outcome of the special examination of the first set of 10 banks.

Three chief executives of banks were given the boot in the second batch of 14 banks and that included the CEO of ETB, curiously, in a move far away from the sanction earlier imposed on the group of five banks on August 14, the CBN went behind the veil to specially treat Adenuga with the same sack sanction applied to his CEO. A non-executive director should under normal consideration be of little consequence to the running of the bank.

Though the Central Bank of Nigeria is yet to inform the public of ETB’s specific breaches of its rules or those for which Adenuga was removed from the board, a source with the apex bank informed Fortune&Class Weekly that the CBN identified Adenuga as the all pervading influence in the day to day management of the bank.

But perhaps, more worrisome to the auditors from CBN and the National Deposit Insurance Corporation that examined the books of ETB were the various unexplained payments made directly from internal accounts of the bank to various people through the Minna, Niger State branch of the bank. The unexplained payments, according to the CBN source, have over the years, run into billions of naira.

Removing the log in our eyes

It has never been difficult identifying the reasons Nigeria is not functioning as it should be. Neither are we in short supply of expert opinions and solutions to the perceived problems confronting the country. In fact, if there is anything we are good at, it is in the area of noisily pontificating on challenges facing Nigeria with no efforts at strategically diagnosing the challenges.

The most disturbing aspect in this Oyingbo market setting approach to this Nigerian like conduct is the re-statement of the issues, with analysts and commentators taking well known uniformed stand on the cause or causes of the problems, which is usually hinged on corruption.

Painfully, we are living witnesses to this recurring decimal with no one giving us the lead on how best to solve the problems once and for all. Even those who are paid or who should be in the vanguard of seeing function as a society are themselves more guilty in seeing to it that only solutions that favour their greed are posited as policy solutions for the attention of so-called leaders, who have long given up on their statutory role of being the keeper and enforcer of the ‘good’ of the ordinary citizen, who haplessly and hopelessly watched his dignity debased in the most bizarre manner so much so he now begins to wonder if he is truly a Nigerian.

Sadly, those who held offices at various times in the past but could not move the nation forward, or leave behind some form of policy direction to tackling the problems, are now talking of what should have been done.

For example, someone who once headed the Economic Planning Ministry coming out soon after he left office with an accusation of policy inconsistencies against government, leaves much to be desired. It is the more disturbing when the person with all his academic background, is equating a national plan drawn out of a ‘presidential agenda’ to a National Plan. We now know better why we have not gotten it right these past years.

What the Professor is inadvertently stating is that there is no need for a comprehensive plan of action to move Nigeria forward except this piece-meal approach occasioned on the ‘beliefs’ of the man at the moment. This was the role they had played in successive administrations particularly those of IBB and Abacha that compounded our economic malaise.

We, perhaps, need to remind our economic experts to take a look at the Theory of Development, a major topic in Economics as a discipline, so as to be moderated on this grand-standing of proffering solutions to our economic woes that are macro based which have opened our economy to haemorrhage and now getting into a state of atrophy.

Is it high time we changed strategy and focus so as to for once allow Micro policies dictate our economic plans? Must we continue to look at what the developed and semi developed economies are doing as a yard stick to measure our response to getting out of the woods?

I thought our experts do know that we produce what we cannot consume like the crude oil we cannot even refine, and consume what we cannot produce, as in the many automobiles competing for space on our dusty, bumpy roads.

May be we are happy that our manufacturing sector is comatose, and are happier that we are selling their assets to our economic parasites. After all, that is the beauty in privatization, the Nigerian way. We are much more happy to be helping the Asians run their economy, solve their unemployment problems, while shutting down our own with high unemployment, and our citizens turning destitute both at home and abroad.

In all areas of existence in Nigeria, be it socio-cultural, economic or political, it is hard to tell the direction we are heading. In the name of privatization and commercialization, our commonwealth has been appropriated by the people we believe should protect and preserve it for us.

Obudu Ranch, Another Bermuda Triangle?

The Hausa/Fulani aircraft engineer, who had been lamenting the death of Nigeria Airways at the hands of military and civilian ex-presidents in some our past editions, is now here lamenting the sheer complacency that had led to two air-crashes en route Obudu Ranch, Cross River State. “This reminds one of Bermuda Triangle…,” he says.  Jonah Etufunwa reports the chat between FORTUNE & CLASS Weekly and the retired engineer.


Is Obudu Ranch, now a kind of Bermuda Triangle?

Out of sheer complacency, we are creating one. Planes do not fly in the sky (in the void) Take-off and landing of any plane go with some fundamentals: predicting the weather, the control tower, aerial navigation, etc. For safe flight (take-off and landing), all the fundamentals are non-negotiable.

Do our airline operators, civil and military observe these fundamentals?

To their best, they do, because they value their lives and that of the passengers. Mind you, the first law in aviation is safety, like we used to say in school of aviation. There are brave young pilots; there are no brave old pilots’

What do you mean?

You can’t defy nature. The mind may be  willing, but the reflex may not be there because of age. In spite of modern technology, man has to be in the cockpit for passenger confidence to be there.

At what age should a pilot retire, does it mean it is the younger the better?

Medicine and good living have improved life-span from 60 to 65 now…

How do all these affect the two aviation tragedies at Obudu Ranch?

Ours is a need neglected

What need had been neglected at Obudu Ranch?

Obudu is nature’s beauty charming the elite, yet like several other airstrips, the necessary things have not been done. And this negligence has proven expensive. Cream of our generals lost their lives to this national odious negligence.

Were the aviation professionals not aware of these facts before the ill-fated flight of the generals from Abuja to Obudu?

Our generals were gathered from all over the country at Abuja and finally, Makurdi. The military air-flight operators were aware. But you see, in Nigeria, orders from above sometimes would demand you doing the impossible. And familiarity can breed contempt.

What do you mean?

Here, presumptuous familiarity with the weather can just be misleading. In spite of all the instrumentations in the aircraft, bravery and acumen of the flight group, God’s mercy, often save the day, but it wasn’t so with the two tragedies at Obudu; these incidents make it look like Bermuda Triangle where anything on air or sea disappears without trace at this spot. The ability to find way around the skies, pilots need to know their position and their direction. Finding direction using simple magnetic compass, is easy and there is, at least, one of these on every flight deck. Other kinds of aircraft use gyroscope (rotating wheel, the axis of which is free to turn in any direction and which can be set to rotate in any place independently of forces tending to change the position of the axis).

The modern aircraft compasses are complex and highly efficient. You see, finding position is more difficult for a pilot than finding direction, hence the need for complex aids on the ground to air.

What went wrong with the generals’ flight?

The pilot must have flown there severally without mishaps. You see, oldest and simplest form of aerial navigation is still used by pilots of light aircraft that depends on ground recognizable landmarks. The pilot pilots his track on the map before take-off and using his compass, will simply fly in the right direction.

Knowing his speed can enable him calculate when he should fly over certain landmarks and so he can check his progress.

But wind, carrying the aircraft off course, or possibly causing sudden speed ups of slowdowns, can upset such simple navigation. However, by relating to last known position, to the direction he has flown, than the speed, the pilot is able to determine an approximate position several times during the course of the flight.

This then creates a kind of circle called ‘circle of uncertainty’ whose radius is said to be about ten per cent of the distance flown since the last landmark. A seasoned captain in that ill-fated air-flight, who must have flown that route severally, must have encountered adverse weather phenomenon of some sort that is avoidable if only radar coverage was accorded that air-strip.

Was lack of radar coverage a cause of the air-crash?


Right now, is there radar coverage at Obudu Ranch?

There are several air-strips nationwide without radar coverage, but the potential of Obudu Ranch, should accord it that little privilege.

Is radar coverage financially prohibitive that Nigeria cannot afford it?

This only reminds me of a statement created to Collin Powell that ‘Nigerians are basically scammers.’ You’ll recall that N300billion was budgeted for road repairs sometime ago, but only a 100 and something billion was eventually released. A case of neglect on the part of government to see that our roads are repaired! What happens on the ground in Nigeria also happens in the air, because we have lost value for human life; which is really tragic.

Talking about negligence of our roads, do you think Ore to Benin Road, does not need an urgent declaration of state of emergency?

It’s like something is wrong with us black people south of the Sahara. We’re caged by land, see and air. And we cannot develop without ease of transportation in those areas. Talking about air, where is Air Afrique, Ghana Airways, Cameroun Airways and Nigeria Airways. In spite of the endowed human and natural resources of the respective nations, such vital colonial legacies could not be sustained, let alone be improved upon. Glaring economic trapping by seas, land and air, in whose interest? Certainly, not national interest!  Surreptitiously, the Nigerian National Shipping Line eventually disappeared, and to date, Nigeria Railway is on the verge too. They all died at the hands of civil war heroes who would have appreciated transport system without which they would not have won the war. They killed the system with their own economic warfare against Nigerians. IBB with his SAP; Obj with his belt-tightening as military head of state and with his reforms as a democratically elected president with tacit backing of IBB, both contributed to our present economic malaise.