The Ibru family reportedly threw all its influence and moneyed privileges into the battle to mitigate the public embarrassment of Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, sacked Managing Director of Oceanic Bank and wife of the patriarch of the Ibru’s clan, Olorogun Michael Ibru.
Details emerging in the wake of the sudden appearance of the erstwhile Managing Director of Oceanic Bank at the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last Wednesday, indicate that the wife of the Chairman of the Ibru organization was advised to beat a tactical retreat to allow the family deploy its massive goodwill in the nation’s political arena to stave off the prospect of an embarrassingly long detention for Mrs. Ibru by the EFCC.
Knowledgeable insiders to the horse trading that led to the eventual emergence of the woman fondly revered as the Nigeria’s first lady of banking, confided in Fortune&Class Weekly that the Ibru family pulled all the plugs through the Senate and the Presidency to get certain assurances from the EFCC before Mrs. Ibru was given the green light to submit herself at the EFCC.
“Seriously, we have only heard about the ingenuity of the Ibru family in making money, but I was a witness to another aspect of their lives these past days when I experienced their ability to move around and lobby office holders to intervene in the roiling crisis that had claimed one of their own, Mrs. Ibru. It’s not as if you saw any of the Ibrus physically, but there were many people lobbying on her behalf especially at the Senate,” the source said.
“You know, the second day after the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido (Sanusi) made those earth shaking pronouncements about sacking five bank chief executives, the President left the country in company with his wife, Turai. The next level of authority, in the real sense of it, at that time, was the Senate. And it was to the Senators that the Ibru lobbyists took their battle to get political pressure to be applied on the EFCC boss to provide lighter treatment and shortened detention for Mrs. Ibru. The fulcrum of the argument of the lobbyists is that the Central Bank of Nigeria was making a mountain out of a mole hill by its decisions to sack the bank managing directors and their arrest by the EFCC.
“The lobbyists pleaded with the leadership of the Senate to prevail on the Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, to make a commitment to making Mrs. Ibru’s detention before taking her to the court as short as possible.
“Of course, they got sympathetic ears in the Senate. The Senate leadership made overtures to the Chairman of the EFCC who insisted that Mrs. Ibru must first surrender herself to the anti-grafts agency before she could determine the next step.
“Hajia Binta Turai, wife of President Umar Yar’Adua also played a peripheral role in the Ibru EFCC saga. Two of the first lady’s friends were drafted to talk to the EFCC Chairman to provide a soft landing for Mrs. Ibru, the source said.
Mrs. Ibru had, as part of her battle to stop her arrest and detention, dragged the Central Bank of Nigeria and its governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi before a Federal High Court in Abuja over her compulsory removal from office, demanding the sum of N50 billion for “exemplary, punitive and aggravated and general damages.”
The EFCC, however, declared Mrs. Ibru and Mr. Erastus Akingbola of Intercontinental Bank wanted on Sunday, 23 August, after failing to honour invitations for interrogation, sequel to their sack on August 14 along with three other bank MDs, Mr. Sebastine Adigwe of Afribank, Okey Nwosu of Finbank and Bartholomew Ebong of Union Bank.
A statement issued by EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Femi Babafemi, explained that Ibru and Akingbola “are wanted in connection with fraudulent abuse of credit process, insider trading, capital market manipulation and money laundering running into billions of Naira.”
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