Ecobank Nigeria Limited, one of the retail lenders in Nigeria which prides itself as ‘The Pan African Bank’ and its managing director are said to be under investigation over a N1.7 billion financial scandal.
According to reports, the alleged scandal was uncovered by the Jim Obazee panel sets up by President Bola Tinubu to probe the Central Bank of Nigeria and its related entities under the leadership of the disgraced former Governor of the apex bank, Godwin Emefiele.
According to online newspaper, Secrets Reporters, the year was 2015, when the CBN under Emefiele, without any directive of then President Goodluck Jonathan incorporated a Special Purpose Vehicle called NESI Stabilization Strategy Limited. What Jonathan initially approved is a stabilization fund to be limited by guarantee in order for NESI to address the problems in the electricity industry to operate for 10 years wherein the fund would have been repaid.
To see this noble idea come to pass, some banks were selected, an action which saw Nigerians sleep while the banks owner allegedly ‘buga’ away. One of the banks selected was Ecobank Nigeria.
The Bolaji Lawal led lender over the years engaged in manipulation by unlawfully arranging and collected part of the 1.9535% for participating in the Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilization Facility. These fees were paid to Ecobank in ration of its contribution to the NEMSF disbursement, according to External Auditor’s Notes to the Financial Statement of NESI Stabilization Strategy Limited.
Ecobank Nigeria was said to have allegedly walked away with N1.7 billion without doing anything.
In the Obazee report to President Tinubu, the panel indicted Bolaji Lawal and all its Managing Directors from 2015 till date stating that “it is important that all artificial and natural persons involved in this manipulation, to which public funds were plundered, must be held accountable and responsible”.
It went further to make a recommendation to Tinubu that Ecobank should refund the sum of N1.7 billion criminally diverted. That money if converted to today’s money will see Lawal signing away over N13 billion from the bank’s cover due to the fallen exchange rate of N170 at 2015 to N1450 in 2024 open market rates.