A Nigerian court sitting in Lagos may be forced to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of C.S. Sankey, managing director of Citibank and Emeka Emuwa, managing director of Union Bank and others for allegedly defrauding Micheal Emerah, a Nigerian entrepreneur, of N390 million should they fail to appear before the court again on April 14
| By Maureen Chigbo | Apr 11, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT |
CITIBANK, an American Bank now called Nigerian International Bank Limited, dubs the appellation as a global investment and corporate bank. It claims to create the best outcomes for its clients and customers in rendering financial services and make good returns to its shareholders. But not much is known about its alleged shady deals through which the bank rakes in billions of dollars in profit to pay dividends. It is also not public knowledge how the bank which is highly connected to top government functionaries in both the United States and Nigeria, uses such powers to frustrate those whom it has run out of business all in the name of financing investments for entrepreneurs who are subsequently ripped off because of the Citi’s unholy business activities.
One of such cases currently involving Citibank has been going on in the Nigerian courts. It has to do with Micheal Emerah, a Nigerian entrepreneur and chairman of the Micmerah International Agency Ltd, which the bank allegedly defrauded of N390 million. Citibank has, as usual, deployed its high wired contacts in an attempt to kill the case. But its stumbling block appears to be President Muhammadu Buhari’s avowed fight against corruption now in Nigeria.
Before now, Citibank has succeeded twice to truncate the case through the office of the two former attorneys general of the federation during ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. But for the doggedness of the wounded entrepreneur who is clinging on every hope to keep the case alive and to get justice which has eluded him and his company for 12 years.
In his petition dated June 18, 2015, Emerah asked President Buhari to help him before it is too late to save jobs of more than 1,000 employees of Micmerah Group. The letter is entitled: “Petition Against the Fraudulent Withdrawal of Criminal Charge No FHC/ABJ/CR/122/2008 between: Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs Nigeria International Bank Ltd (Citi Bank) and Sixteen Others. He latched on the hope given to him by the office of the chief justice of Nigeria in reply to his petition about the withdrawal of the case that he could institute the case again if there is a change in government.
That is why Emerah’s petition to President Buhari is premised on the withdrawal of fiat granted to Chris Uche, SAN, and notice of discontinuance dated May 20, 2011, entered by Mohammed Adoke, a former attorney general of the federation of Nigeria. In the petition, Emerah contended that the attorney general having taken a position in the case and advised the former President Jonathan on the desirability of the matter to be tried and determined by the court in order to avoid petition and counter petition, ought not to have entered notice of discontinuance.
Prior to this, Emerah had previously petitioned former President Goodluck Jonathan on the matter in a letter dated February 15, 2012. In the petition, Emerah narrated how in the course of his transport business, Nigeria International Bank (Citibank) lured his company to import four luxury buses and two containers of spare-parts to augment its fleet and for which the company was made to contribute an initial sum of N250,000,000 only. It later also paid N107,349,964 to cover and defray the entire cost of the purported import facility but which unknown to the Micmerah the bank had perfected a plan that was virtually executed to defraud his company including the import duty payable to the government.
“Upon arrival of the goods, the bank recommended Messrs Mikky Dons Nig Ltd as the clearing agent and directed that we pay to it the sum of N56,000,000 only for the clearing. However, curiously too, the clearing agent procured Union Bank Duty receipt which was duly confirmed by Citibank, but was later found to be forged, leading to the seizure of the goods by the Nigerian Customs,” the letter said.
The letter pointed out the dubiety of Citibank’s nominated clearing agent in patronising another banks (Union Bank Plc) to consummate the same transaction as an evidence of a predetermined agenda it had while conniving with bank officials. This could have passed but for the vigilance of the Nigerian Customs which insisted that the full duty of N46,000,000 should be paid. Thereafter, Citibank asked Emerah to source for 20 percent of the amount (N11 Million) while it would pay the balance. Emerah complied.
As the case was on, unfortunately, tragedy struck Emerah when his wife died while giving birth in a hospital in London. While in mourning, “The bank then capitalised on his absence, following the death of the wife of the managing director of Micmerah in London to secure the release of the Luxury buses and containers of spare-parts using all together forged documents to wit: Court Affidavit, police extract and revenue receipts. …They equally proceeded to sell all the buses and appropriated the entire proceeds to themselves without reference to our company, or at all and still claim that we are indebted to the bank,” the petition stated.
This made Emerah, when he recovered from mourning to approach the Nigerian Police to investigate the matter after which they found Citibank culpable. Thereafter, the police started the prosecution of Citibank and its officers.
The suit between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Nigeria International Bank Ltd (CitiBank), listed C.S Sankey, Citibank managing director, Emeka Emuwa, former Citi bank official now the managing director of Union Bank, Peter H. Harris, Adekunle Oladosun, and Okechi Emeka Ugwu as defendants. Other officials from the Citibank who are listed as defendants include Lulu Ndukuba, Kabiru Bello, J.E. Eriagbon, Olusola Fagbure, Samson Ebie, Steve Obodomechine. The rest are Mikky Dons Nigeria Ltd, Mark Anaele, Ariyo Oyowole Odunala, Peter Bamidele Oriade and Obianwa Chuba.
The statement of offence against the defendants accused them of a 20-count charge. They were accused of “Conspiracy to defraud contrary to section 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act Cap A6, Laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under section 1(3) of the Act.” The charge also stated that the accused presented untrue documents contrary to section 161(1)1(a) of the Customs and Excise Management Act and punishable under the same section 161(3) of the came Act.
The charge document signed by Mohammed Daidu Diri, director, public prosecution of the federation on behalf of the attorney-general of the federation and dated 21 October, 2015, accused the defendants of fraudulent evasion of duty contrary to section 164(b) of the customs and excise management Act, Cap.C45, laws of the federation of Nigeria. It accused them of corruptly enriching themselves, contributing to the economic adversity of the country; obtaining goods by false pretense contrary to section 419 of the criminal code Act and conspiracy to commit felony contrary to section 516 of the criminal code. The defendants were also accused of obtaining money through false pretense contrary to Section 8(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud; counterfeiting documents contrary to section 162 (b of the Customs and Exercise management Act; making of forged documents contrary to section 1(2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17.