The Smear Campaign by Femi Otedola – Our Response Saturday, April 30 2011. Yesterday, a mail was circulated to members of the public alleging financial induced blackmail on our part from a faceless individual, purportedly working for Mr. Femi Otedola. We have seen all this before – it was the same tactics used in the following ‘circus show’ he embarked upon during the following squats: Femi Otedola vs Access Bank Plc debt recovery issue in 2009; Femi Otedola vs Aliko Dangote allegation filled public ’soap opera’ in our of the low moments for corporate Nigeria; Femi Otedola vs. Banks PHB over debts now taken over by AMCON. We took our time to study the pattern of smear and crude tactics deployed – one of which lead to the arrest of so many journalists including a gentleman locked up over the Christmas in Abuja . This was something we had borne in mind from the onset and now that he has realized it, he has gone native. This is the first of many of such smear stories to come and it would follow the same pattern of damaging reputations and at some stage some ‘concerned Nigerians’ will meet with him to sheath his sword and allow us our freedom - and the whole circus disappears and we are all friends again! This is however different. The basis of our intervention was his own court documents and unless the Police can prove that using such is wrong, they might as well arrest all the media houses that have taken a position on the matter. Those journalist who were ‘paid’ should come out and they should be made to state what and who paid them, and for what. We have an interesting side about these ourselves and will act appropriately in the courts. Strangely, the police took away our computers, phones of our web staff and arrested our Admin manager who had to be bailed by his wife who just gave birth. This must therefore reflect an unlearned aspect of how the police functions in a democracy. Simply Put – This is a figment of someone’s imagination, albeit a warped attempt at sound reasoning. The market has been down this road before and it is a well worn tactic supported by the use of the apparatus of state – The Nigerian Police Force. The real test of this blackmail will be revealed through text and voice messages between ourselves and Femi Otedola. We always knew that this day would come and it was prudent to ensure that third parties were present when we met and conversations duly documented. This was the evidence the police wanted to deny us of when they moved in without a letter of invitation or a court ordered search warrant or warrant of arrest. We must therefore take the unusual step to publish such and document roles played by persons involved in the investigation leading to this. The meetings with Femi Otedola at his home had ………….. in attendance and Anselm Tabansi, his friend and a staff member who came along with me on the ‘Nana’. Mr. Femi Otedola must now recognise that it is nothing personal but he stands involved in a ‘big story’ about actions unresolved about the systemic risks to the entire financial services sector. We could not do otherwise on a matter the whole media industry has commented on. See this appendix of Concerns over debtors and smear tactics - Review of Q1 2011 Coverage of Bank Debtor Issues This attempt to introduce smear tactics and discrediting of the person/firm is typical of Mr. Femi Otedola’s approach to issues and similar type issues in the past. I am sure the public will appreciate the professional handling of the matter by our firm. A review of commentary on the subject during the intervening period in the mail below indicates that the issue in itself does not lend any basis for financial inducement – for what and to do what! Here is a matter that has been in the public domain but without a clear idea of the level of exposure to the financial markets till the court document established the following: 11. The Plaintiff avers that it is not indebted to the defendants herein in the sums listed below: a) Access Bank Plc =N= 15, 526,404,046.00 b) First City Monument Bank Plc =N= 18,722,208,174.00 c) Guaranty Trust Bank Plc =N= 30,732,102,788.00 d) United Bank for Africa Plc =N= 36,862,580,000.00 e) Zenith Bank Plc =N= 68,109,995,822.00 12. The Plaintiff avers that its indebtedness in the alleged amounts listed above in paragraph 12 is due to the illegal and excess bank charges inclusive of interest debited to the Plaintiff’s Accounts by the respective Defendants. Source: The Court Document - Zenon vs 5 Banks - Apr 2011 Our role here is in the public interest and raises the fundamental question about debt and risk management in Nigeria where all parties would have equal measure of blame for how the entire industry exposed itself to such level of debt – with implications for shareholders, future debtors and the banking reforms. There was never anytime such wild allegations as stated below existed. There is no need to muddle the waters about our role and the personal responsibility we showed in impressing it upon Femi Otedola to pay his debts and it is hoped that the Police would serve the best interest of the market to read through the text exchanges and voice conversations we had with him. If indeed he had a case, an otherwise decent and respected citizen would approach the law courts and compel us to make a representation – not use the apparatus of the state to lock us up and prevent us from defending ourselves. The premise of our case and involvement in the public document (see attached) is that the Zenon debt represents a significant threat to financial stability and his inability to be innovative in resolving the debt situation like others have done, undermines the credit market. There is also the case of two of the banks being owed holding the same collateral for debts granted Mr. Otedola – how did the industry allow such? Is there no lesson to pick from this about the urgent importance of a credit bureau lest we risk leaving in place those conditions that nearly brought the banking industry to a precipice. The issues are clear to us and we cannot stop people set on ‘embarking on the shame, destroy and damage’ approach. This is their style and a reflection of their values and character. Such political type attitudes have no place in a credible financial services market where there must be clear rules of engagement. It is this ‘scorched earth approach’ that has perhaps kept the whole public intimidated and afraid of going after the issue. Is it that we are brave or think we know better than others? No! Who would consider going after a powerful man like Femi Otedola (after he had warned us when we told him we would have to articulate the systemic risk it represents and the lessons for the market – his response to us then was that it was a public matter anyway which they are working to solve through AMCON) a brave thing to do? In the final analysis, it was the right thing to do and in a few years time; he and the banks will reflect on how they got to this stage and thank our platform for engaging responsibly on the matter. Such must never be allowed to happen again. It is simply a responsible thing to do. It is our reason for being and informed persons should be able to appreciate that this matter had been kicked started two years back when the CBN published the names of debtors. Then, we had written in the Bull in the China shop report that publication of debtors names breached customer-banker privileges. We have since learnt that such a decision helped in no small way to ‘nudge’ recalcitrant debtors to pay up or restructure their debt. This is what this is also about – to ‘create the conditions whereby the multiple court cases i.e. the Mareva injunction , the counter suit and needless exchanges and use of smear, infiltration of the media to take sides and other unprintable acts come to a head. Now this has happened and the issue will have to be addressed. We must therefore be grateful to Mr. Otedola for making this matter a front and centre issue through the actions he has taken and the attacks on our person will be our down-payment for establishing our stake in the industry as a market watchdog – our past interventions and positive developments thereafter encourages us that this one too shall pass away. We must admit that this is our toughest challenge yet and it is a humbling experience though surreal but we are convinced that basic decency of those in charge of the financial markets and the security forces would prevail at the end of the day. We would not get involved in any ‘mud slinging and stick to the facts and validating evidence’ on the subject of the debt and our role. Our lawyers Messrs Femi Falana and Proshare’s legal adviser Mr. Bisi Iyaniwura has suggested that such slander and misrepresentation will occur; yet, no day had ever been darker than yesterday. Mr. Akinwale Oyebanji, if that is your name, thank you for allowing us the chance to keep the issue in the consciousness of the public. You would therefore be interested in seeing to it that such text messages and voice conversations between your principal and us gets equal attention. Being a hired hand, we have no issues with you; it is a thankless job but somebody must do it, wish you the very best. Proshare THE TRUE STORY OF FEMI AWOYEMI'S blackmails. Femi Otedola wouldn't want to join issues, with the so-called stock broker and media consultant Femi Awoyemi. But rather,we are doing this just to put the record straight concerning his blackmail and campaign of calumny against Otedola. When the issue of Access Bank and Otedola started, Femi Awoyemi went to meet Otedola in his house in Abuja and on his yatch in Lagos , telling Otedola to parley with him in order to settle the issue between him and Access Bank Boss, Aig Imokhuede based on his relationship with the latter. After a long discussion, Awoyemi demanded for a whopping sum of N50m to act as go-between to settle the differences. Awoyemi later showed his insincerity when Aig confronted him about his meeting with Otedola,which he vehemently denied. It was when Otedola called his bluff that he now went back to meet Aig and sold to him a dummy proposal on how to embark on media campaign against Otedola. And to prosecute the blackmail, he was paid a sum of N5m to engage journalists to help him prosecute the media war. In order to please his pay master having failed to squeeze money out of Otedola, he invited some journalists and briefed them on what to do, which is simply to embarrass Otedola on his issue with the bank. It is however, not a surprise that having failed to tarnish the image of Otedola, he resorted to destroying his relationship with President Goodluck Jonathan and bringing him down at all cost because Otedola reported his nefarious activities to the police for investigations. Thanks. Akinwale Oyebamiji
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