A group, the Civil Society Network against Corruption ( CSNAC), which is a coalition of 150 anti-corruption organizations, has commended the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for filing charges against Messrs Goodie Minabo Ibru, Associated Ventures International Limited, IHL Services Limited and Clearview Investment Limited before the Lagos High Court.
The anti-corruption agency had accused the defendants of conspiracy to steal, and stealing by fraudulent conversion of sums of money of about N2billion belonging to Ikeja Hotel, Plc. The accused persons are yet to be arraigned.
In a statement signed in Lagos by the chairman of the coalition, Olanrewaju Suraju, the group noted that the era has passed where persons can inflict such fraud on the public through the instrumentality of operating private businesses.
The statement reads: ”EFCC deserves public commendation for its work in this regard. However while they are deserving of our commendation, we must state that our petition to the EFCC dated the 10th of November 2014 alleges more cases of criminal diversion of funds in excess of N10 billion belonging to Ikeja Hotel Plc and its subsidiaries by Mr. Goodie Ibru and his accomplices – in respect of which we had similarly sought orders of court to require the commission to promptly investigate and prosecute.
”The fact that Mr. Goodie Ibru is a former President of the Nigeria Stock Exchange especially gives cause for worry, and should ordinarily provide an added impetus for the regulators to investigate the claims against Mr. Goodie Ibru, so as not to appear complicit by any stretch of imagination.”
Expressing its interest in the issue since 2014, Suraju said the coalition took deep interest in Ikeja Hotel, Plc debacle after it received several complaints and petition from many ordinary shareholders in Ikeja Hotel, Plc, about the fraudulent mismanagement of Lagos Sheraton Hotel by the Management of Ikeja Hotel, Plc.
“This interest is demonstrated by the fact that following the removal of Mr. Goodie Ibru on the 6th of January, 2015, as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of IKEJA HOTEL PLC at a Court ordered Extraordinary General Meeting, the outcomes of which were similarly validated by the Federal High Court, MR.RASHEED OLAOLUWA, the Managing Director of Bank of Industry, became the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ikeja Hotel, Plc. The public expects that he will ensure that corporate governance codes are fully complied with, such as to prevent the kind of fraud that had been so cruelly perpetrated against the ordinary shareholder of Ikeja Hotel Plc.
“We shall pursue and ensure that perpetrators of acts of corruption against the public are fully made to account, whether they are carried out in state institutions and parastatals or private/public enterprise. In this regard we earnestly call on the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Nigeria Stock Exchange as well as the Corporate Affairs Commission to undertake routine inspections of companies to ensure that such infractions as was witnessed in Ikeja Hotel Plc are checked and punished.
“Accordingly, CSNAC wishes to urge the EFCC to continue its investigation into the financial activities of Ikeja Hotel, Plc and her said subsidiaries. The moneys which have been fraudulently diverted and stolen from the company and its subsidiaries are not limited to #2 Billion for which Goodie Ibru is currently charged but, as CSNAC has alleged in its petition, runs into several billions of naira – moneys which CSNAC urges the EFCC to dutifully recover and deliver to Ikeja Hotel, Plc, in the public interest.
“CSNAC wishes to assure Nigerians that, acting in collaboration with other anti corruption stake-holders and anti graft institutions, it is poised to pursue the protection of the public interest of the Nigerian people into the conduct of affairs of public limited companies, the financial mismanagement of which has caused many shareholders and stakeholders (including depositors and businesses) huge financial losses,” the statement reads.