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Businessman sends SOS to President Tinubu, AGF ,others over company’s closure

Businessman sends SOS to President Tinubu, AGF ,others over company's closure


A businessman, Mr. Anthony Obidulu has sent a Save-Our-Soul message to President Bola Tinubu; the Attorney-General of the Federation, and the Minister of Justice to readdress the injustices allegedly done to his company and other companies by banks.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Algrain Foods Limited, Okota, Lagos, who narrated how two banks joined together to close down his company and rendered hundreds of people jobless, wants the government and other relevant security agencies to wade into the matter; investigate how and the reason his company was closed down by banks which managements deceived a judge who gave the order that the banks should appoint a receiver manager who sold the property of the company.
Obidulu at a press’s conference yesterday at his office , said,” ‘permit me to say that our company has found it highly imperative to bring all of us together today with a view to sharing with you the harrowing experience we have had in recent time in the hands of two commercial banks which have chosen to cripple our company and render 300 direct employees and more than 2800 persons in its distribution chain jobless at the pick of its production in 2014.

“The company has remained sealed by one of the banks since June 2017. The bank not only forged but concealed relevant documents pertaining to the Banker/Customer relationships with which it deceived the Court into granting the order on the basis of which they took over our company.
The businessman continued that “Our company is one of the few companies that survived what can be described as commercial banks’ onslaught on businesses in Nigeria, through mischievous and fraudulent loans.

Businessman sends SOS to President Tinubu, AGF ,others over company's closure
“Many industrialists over the years have lost not just their businesses, but also their lives, when banks took over their companies in very questionable and controversial circumstances.
He also stated that “Most people have caved in to high blood pressure and heart attacks, as a result of such seizures by the banks. Through this press conference, we are therefore, appealing to the Federal Government of Nigeria to intervene with a view to checkmating the crookedness with which some commercial banks in Nigeria have adopted to manipulate accounting books relating to loans in a manner that cripple businesses to the great advantage of the banks.

“Our company is a victim of such crookedness, and we would want Nigerians to be aware of such obnoxious tendencies of the banks. One may ask, how did our company get involved in this mess with the bank which led to a court case and the eventual takeover of the company by the bank? Our company is one of the beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s intervention loans tagged Small and Medium Enterprises Credit Guarantee Scheme (SMECGS) in 2011. We got a N100 million of the intervention fund through the bank because one of the conditions for getting the fund was that one must go through a commercial bank to access it. “So we opened an account with the bank, from where the fund was accessed.
“But unfortunately, as the CEO what I personally thought would boost our business and increase the company’s economic base, turned out to be one of our worst economic decisions as a businessman. The N100 million was guaranteed by the Federal Government of Nigeria to the tune of 80% (Principal and interest) and tenure of 60 months with 12months moratorium. Final date of repayment ought to be November 2016 in respect of which the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a Guarantee Certificate of the bank (name withheld) dated 15th March 2012 containing the afore-mentioned terms which the Bank concealed from the Federal High Court in securing the judgment they are peddling around.

He added that “The action of the bank became a nightmare that has crippled our business since 2017 and continuing. The bank, cooked up some fictitious figures, and alleged that we owed about N350 million. They went to court behind us, procured an order to take over the company and eventually sealed the company.
” As at the time they went to court, we had only touched the Federal Government’s money, not the bank’s money. The offer letter that has not been drawn down is what they relied on to convince the court that our company owed them. The judge did not look at the drawdown, while looking at the offer letter, and he gave the judgment without telling them how much money they can recover from Algrain Foods Limited, thereby giving them an open ticket that has led to the looting that has taken place in the factory as moveable assets worth over N20,000,000,000:00K ( twenty billion naira ) have been stolen from the factory with the aid of Mobile Policemen illegally procured from Mopol 20, Ikeja, Lagos.

“Drawdown means you have touched the money. For example, they gave you N100 million, you withdrew N80 million, and then, N20 million remains with the bank and attracts no interest. So, they used the offer letter and other manipulations to go to court.
“They had no right in the first place to enforce the loan which was not even due for repayment as at the time they appointed the Receiver/Manager because it has a tenure of 60 months, with 24 months moratorium, final payment was to be due in November, 2016 (5th year anniversary of the facility).
” In fact the SMECGS guidelines issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria talks of eight years tenure; it was an intervention fund for Small and medium enterprises engaged in the Agriculture value chain.
The business man insisted that ” We did not take any loan from the bank because there was no draw down on their own N205,000,000:00K neither was any such money utilized by our company. If they claim otherwise, let the bank show any application to utilize this sum of money by Algrain Foods Limited.
“Let me emphasize again that we took a N100 million loan from the Federal Government and the bank stated in their earlier letter that they will finance the operation of our company on ‘full underwritten basis’, but deliberately refused to allow the loan run its full course. Even when we applied to allow other lenders to come into the All-Asset debenture (Plant and Machinery only), it took the Bank eighty re months to accede to our request.

“The action was deliberate, and we did not realize this until the sudden seizure of our company. The bank has no right to enforce repayment without calling up the guarantee of 80% (Principal and interest) because their exposure on the facility was just 20 percent. But they were ready to manipulate the account to achieve premeditated end.Having played a fast one on our company by the bank (due to my absence from the country as I was overseas attending a conference) which has now taken over the company, we did not know what to do and where to start.
In this desperation, after three months, we initially offered to give the bank N150 million so that the company could be opened temporarily. They said we should put it in writing and we did but they did not accept it. We wanted to use that period to study the documents they presented to the court to really understand what actually happened, but the bank demanded N450 million. It was at this point, we decided to take the bull by the horn, assembled a team of experts in accounting, auditing and banking, as well as legal experts to assist us fight the legal battle .
Regrettably, the first thing the bank did was to overwhelm our team in a manner that created some ambiguity. The team reported that the bank was wrong to have said we owed them N350 million but rather said what we owed was N280 million. As the CEO of the company, I personally began to suspect that something was wrong and I used my contact to find out exactly what was happening. I got answers that confirmed my suspicion. So, we disbanded that team and set up a new team of lawyers, accountants, auditors and ex-bankers. We set up four accounting around the world, one in Toronto, Canada, one in Holland, another one in Enugu, and the fourth one was in Lagos.
“After two weeks of painstakingly looking into the books, the account was negative indicating that we were not owning the commercial bank. However, the more intriguing thing is that immediately they took over our company, thieves allegedly burgled our company offices and according to the Receiver /Manager, they stole all our documents.

” It is interesting to note that the statement of account used for forensic audit is the one the bank filed in court. We went to court, paid the normal fee and got the Certified True Copy (CTC). That account statement was what we pulled down and dissected to find out that the bank was supposed to pay back to us over a N100 million in excess charges and overpayments after a year and seven months.The bank having seen that we were fighting back, involved another bank , which our company had a business dealing with, in the past to join forces to fight us.
“The two banks collaborated to put pressure on me that that our company owed them. The official from the second bank was in my place several times looking for something to rope our company in. He had brought one programme and said they would give us N50 million in Dangote Flour line, to be repaid at every 60 days interval without interest. And we will put that money towards a flour project. We accepted and decided to patronise them. They disbursed N40million worth of flour and before they took our company, we had paid N27 million, remaining N13million out of which we had placed order for N4million worth of flour not supplied before the closure of the company.
According to the businessman ” The two banks joined to take over the company. They came under N13 million to seal the place but when they wrote us, they said we owed them N155 million. When the books were dissected, we found out that we had overpaid them. So, we are in court with them on accusation of fraud.

” As the Chief Executive Officer of Algrain Foods Limited, I decided to share our experiences with fellow Nigerians because we want the banks to stop killing the Nigerian economy. When we talk about economic insurgency, the commercial banks are at the head of economic insurgency in Nigeria just like the Boko Haram insurgents are in the bush.
” The main evil of economic insurgency is the banks. A judge gave order that they should go and sell our company without ascertaining how much we owed. It was wrong to do so. You cannot sell our company because we owe you some money. How can a judge say they should go and sell; to recover how much? That kind of judgment is what has killed many Nigerian businessmen.
“However, the Appeal Court ruling of 5th December, 2023 proved that the Judiciary can live up to expectation if the will is there as they permitted us to present the concealed document before the Courtto determine the pending appeals.
“The document they concealed was what the judges relied on. The statement in the judgment said, ‘If the judge in the lower court had seen that document, he would not have given them that judgment’ meaning the judgment that empowered them to seal off my company was wrong.
The businessman questioned that “The authentic Certified True Copy of the judgment of the Federal High Court, which had to be corrected because a whole page was missing between page 24 and 25 came out on the 14th of July 2022; and the Appeals and Motion for Stay of execution was filed on the 9th of November, 2021, so which judgment did they enforce between November 3 and 9, 2021 as claimed severally in their statement to the press?

“That is almost Nine months after they claimed to have sold our company’s entire moveable assets of over N20,000,000,000:00K (Twenty Billion Naira). This kind of barbaric action has been done to many people who do not have the capacity to defend themselves through the Court of Law.
“The Receiver Manager has converted, and sold assets worth about N20 billion belonging to our company Algrain Foods Limited- located at 15/17, Canal Avenue, Canal Estate, Okota, Lagos.The actions of the SAN and FCMB are reprehensible as four court cases- two at the Appeal Court in Lagos (CA/L/CV/1021/2021 and CA/L/CV/1024/2021) and two at the High Court of Lagos State- are pending and trial ongoing. The cases at the High Court of Lagos State .
“Our 300 permanent staff and 2800 indirectly employed persons by the company all over Nigeria have been thrown into the unemployment market since June 2017 when the bank took over the company and retained possession even when their claim, was overturned by the Court of Appeal and a fresh hearing ordered, yet they refused to vacate the premises and retained it until the Judgment of 3rd November, 2021 which they cannot enforce because as far as there is an application to stay execution in the court file, the DCR/Admiralty Marshal will never issue letter to the Police to assist the bailiff to enforce the judgment of 3 rd November, 2021.

“Apart from the employees who work directly with the company, there are scores of people who depend on the waste and by-products of the company to feed their families. There are people who live on our condemned oil. Some families live on flour bags, broken noodles, salt bags, empty cartons and others.
“They come and pick them, recycle them or give them to people that recycle, sell and feed their families. I am not talking about the drivers and others. Some live on broken pallets which they sell to carpenters. These are people that have been frustrated. Our uniforms are changed every month and some people live on those rejected ones. They collect them, wash them and sell them. Our headgears, mouth guards are all taken by some people, cleaned and resold. So, you can see that the effect of the closure is massive.
The businessman stressed that ” As the Company’s CEO, I am not the only one suffering from it and that is why we want the world to know how banks have been killing businesses and businessmen in Nigeria. Surprisingly and shockingly too, FCMB and its collaborators have sold some of our company assets to a foreign company which had been in competition with Algrains Foods Limited, an indigenous company.

Where lies the patriotism we preach about in Nigeria?

It is a huge atrocity that our company has been destroyed and my personal life as the CEO being treated by agents of the bank. We are therefore, appealing to President Bola Tinubu, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Inspector-General of Police, and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to wade into the matter and ensure that justice is served.
We are also calling on the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, as well as the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice under whose domain the company is headquartered to look into the matter and see how it can reopen our company so that those whose means of livelihood depend on the company can have their lives back”.

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