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MAJOR Shareholder Behind Nnamdi Okonkwo’s EFCC Ordeal

Nnamdi Okonkwo
Nnamdi Okonkwo

December 19, (THEWILL) – News of the arrest of Nnamdi Okonkwo, the erstwhile managing director of Fidelity Bank Plc. and now Group Managing Director of FBN Holdings, the holding company of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has dominated the media space these past few days.

Okonkwo was quizzed about the whereabouts of the sum of $72.87 million belonging to the embattled former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, which was deposited in the bank .

This deposit was made while Okonkwo was at the helm of affairs at the bank and the anti graft agency is now opening investigations into this money which is the proceeds of the corrupt activities of the former minister.

This won’t be the first time the EFCC would arrest Okonkwo over money belonging to Diezani who is now on ‘exile’ in the United Kingdom.

Last month, the agency hauled him into their custody over his alleged role in $153 million deposited in the bank on behalf of Diezani, by a former executive director of a first generation bank.

While it may seem that the anti graft agency is merely doing its job and attempting to bring Okonkwo to book for his crimes, this is however far from the case.

THEWILL exclusively gathered that Okonkwo’s ordeal is allegedly being orchestrated by a major shareholder of First Bank.

This particular shareholder is using the tactics of setting people up, to embarrass Okonkwo to such an extent that FBN Holdings would have no choice but to remove him as its GMD, even if it is to distance itself from any more scandals, having just survived a previous scandal that consumed the bank’s first female chairman and the chairman of the holding company.

Although this shareholder claims not to be interested in any board position in FBN Holdings and First Bank Plc, either directly or by proxy and is only interested in being an investor, this is allegedly far from the truth.

On Friday, Mr. Remi Babalola unexpectedly resigned his appointment as Chairman of FBN Holdings barely eight months after he assumed the position following the abrupt exit of his predecessor, Oba Otudeko in April 2021. Our sources said this shareholder may have lobbied Babalola to resign.

The game plan for this shareholder is to install his own lackey, an act he could not exercise, because while still in the process of scaling up his shares, the initial largest shareholder already influenced the appointment of Okonkwo.

This naturally didn’t go down well with the conniving shareholder and thus the plan to instigate Okonkwo’s removal through a series of well orchestrated arrests got hatched, using the arrow head at the anti graft agency who claims to be an enemy of corruption but has failed to arraign a single ex governor or an important personality for corruption, after almost a year in the saddle.

To further lend credence to this, shortly before Okonkwo’s arrest was announced a few days ago, the points man at the anti graft agency had to cut short his journey to a north African nation where he was a panellist at a conference against corruption, to personally take charge of the case in line with his ‘master’s’ bidding.

Before the news of Okonkwo’s arrest became widespread, the anti graft agency had to send out a press release which was allegedly fraught with grammatical and punctuation errors as it was hurriedly put together on the instruction of the agency’s points man, in order to appear that the agency was truly doing its job with no strings attached.

But will this shareholder eventually have his way with FBN Holdings succumbing by dropping Okonkwo and appointing his own lackey?

We await to see who emerges the winner in this battle of ‘attrition’.

Anyway, the CBN which has a huge stake in the bank will ultimately decide who gets what.