The Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC), Obong Nsima Ekere, is currently enmeshed in a financial mess that borders on lack of accountability and character, failure to honour and redeem a debt owed, and financial recklessness that calls for questioning on his capacity to play a role in executing President Muhammadu Buhari’s much-vaunted corruption war.
According to a court document exclusively obtained by an online news portal, The Trent, the NDDC boss, who is a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, had defaulted on a credit facility in the sum of N27 million that the defunct Oceanic Bank, now Ecobank Plc, had granted him.
All efforts by the bank to recover the debt yielded no fruitful results, as Mr. Ekere had refused to honour his obligations to the financial institution. Ecobank recently posted a huge loss which its auditors attributed to bad loans.
Unable to recover the debt, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), the receiver company, had no other recourse but to take Mr. Ekere to court to recover the money.
The details of this case, as contained in the court papers, paint the picture of a corrupt man who is deficient in transparency, morality, and probity, which has been the governing mantra of the Buhari-led government. This revelation about one of the president’s top appointees seriously puts to test his on-going war on corruption.
In a ruling by Justice Ijeoma L. Ojukwu of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Uyo Judicial Division, with a case number: FHC/UY/CS/36/2017, which was delivered on Thursday, March 20, 2017, the judge ruled that an “order of the Court granting interim possession of Plot 1, 52 Lagos Street, Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, belonging to the defendant to the plaintiff/applicant; an Order of the Honourable Court directing the State Commissioner of Police to provide Mobile Police Security where the property is situated, to assist in the enforcement of the order of the Honourable Court”.
The ruling went on to state “that an order is granted to freeze all monies and/or whatsoever assets due to the Defendant from all bank accounts maintained by the Defendant with all commercial banks in Nigeria to wit: Access Bank Nigeria Plc, Citi Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Eco Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, First City Monumental Bank, And First Bank Of Nigeria.
“Others include: Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Plc, Jaiz Bank, Keystone Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, Stanbic Ibtc Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc, Unity Bank Of Nigeria, United Bank Of Nigeria, Wema Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, situate up to the Plaintiff/Applicant’s claim of the sum of N27,022,720.93 (Twenty-seven million, Twenty-two thousand, Seven hundred and Twenty Naira, Ninety-three Kobo) only being a debt owed by the Defendant as at 20th February 2017 in respect to the credit facility granted to the Defendant/Respondent by the defunct Oceanic Bank International Plc. (now Eco Bank Plc.).
“The Defendant, his agents, privies or any other person natural or artificial, however so-called, under the control of the defendant, is restrained from transferring or otherwise dealing with any monies standing to the credit of the Defendant with any of the aforementioned banks wherever situated up to the amount of the Plaintiff/Applicant’s claim of the sum of N27,022,720,93.
The financial mess that Nsima Ekere is enmeshed in has raised the question as to how fit he is to hold public office and leaves one to wonder how Nsima was able to pass the rigorous security check that public officials are known to be put through by the security agencies. Did he hide this critical material fact from the screening agencies?
Nsima Ekere’s financial mess has put a huge dent on the fight against corruption which Nigerians have collectively applauded President Buhari for restoring a sense of probity among office holders. How is he able to function in his current position when this mess hangs over his mental space? That is the question Nigerians are now asking and demand answers.
Ekere’s tenure as deputy governor of Akwa Ibom under immediate past Governor Godswill Akpabio ended abruptly in a cloud of disgrace when he hurriedly resigned in October 2012 to escape facing impeachment by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.