By NGIJ team of Oluwasegun Abifarin and Olawale Abideen
Widely reputed as the longest surviving and most resilient indigenous bank in Nigeria, Wema Bank Plc, according to its corporate philosophy, “has over the years, diligently offered a fully-fledged range of value-adding banking and financial advisory services to the Nigerian public.”
But recent development is threatening the bank’s ambition and reputation “to give every customer a delightful and memorable service experience.”
According to the document received by the Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists, NGIJ, Niger State governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani-Bello in a letter dated 23/07/2015 from the office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Malam Zakari Abubakar appointed Ori Adeyemo, a Lagos based forensic expert as consultants to investigate deductions of unremitted 10% Withholding Tax on Credit Interest by some banks operating in the state.
However, an instruction was passed by the then Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary to its supervised Niger State Board of Internal Revenue of Adeyemo’s full appointments to cover all the banks in Niger State.
At the end the forensic investigation, the total refundable by the Wema Bank stood at N192, 963 million out of the N4.6 billion due to the state by 12 banks and one Micro Finance institution.
In his petition to the EFCC, obtained by the NIGJ team. Adeyemo alleged he was reliably informed that the Board had given clean bill of health and letters of non-indebtedness to the said compromised concerned banks.
He added that by a letter dated 29/01/2019, Wema Bank Plc. also sent in a reply to the Board’s earlier N192, 963,839.30 Best-of-Judgement (BOJ) demand letter as initiated by us.
The consultant also alleged that the Board “went ahead to try and sell-out this assessment to persons unknown so far who relied on our reports in lowering the assessment to sum for reasons unknown after unbridled reports mutilation and suspected behind-the-scene negotiations all in a bid to deprive the Niger State Government of its hard-earned Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).”
He added that the “total commissions and/or dues fraudulently lost thereto and/or withheld by the Niger State Board of Internal Revenue is N910,422,825.32, which “we hereby request that the EFCC use its wide-ranging investigative powers to help recover for us.”
The petitioner also included a compact disk (CD) detailing all completed jobs in intellectual properties as so far executed by the consultant for the Niger State Government enabling it to demand for an additional but unpaid N732,143,601.52 commission sum.
“Consequently, in the light of the mutual agreement that have with the Niger State Government, we are entitled to 15% of the established N1,131,931,579.67 liability assessment per completed assignments for N178,279,223.80 sum, which we hereby demand that EFCC should assist us to collect from the Niger State Board of Internal Revenue and its collaborators”, Adeyemo said.
Meanwhile, Wema Bank’s Corporate Communication Manager, Mrs. Funmi Falola, debunked the allegations, saying that from their investigation, there is no such liability on the neck of the bank anywhere.