Fraud: Senator Ayo Akinyelure, Tony Elumelu face-off over NITEL fund
The last may not have been heard on the fraud allegedly perpetrated by the Chairman of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu, when he was the Managing Director of the United Bank of Africa (UBA). The Senate Committee Chairman on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Ayo Akinyelure had alleged that a N41 billion fraud was committed against the now defunct Nigeria Telecommunication Corporation (NITEL).
Akinyelure alleged that the said sum was withdrawn systematically over a period of nine years under the watch of Elumelu and two other former MDs of the bank.
The senator said the bank withdrew the whopping N41 billion from the N42billion the liquidator of the defunct government owned telecommunications company deposited with the United Bank for Africa after being sold to MTEL by the then Bureau for Public Enterprise.
Akinyelure who based his allegation on the petition filed by J.U. Ayogu and Co., counsel to NITEL, said the Senate committee has summoned the Group Managing Director (GMD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the UBA, Kennedy Uzoka to appear next Wednesday.
He said the petition revealed that UBA withdrew N29 billion, N1 billion and N22 billion intermittently for all through the nine years without authorization.
Meanwhile, responding to the allegation, the legal team of Elumelu described the allegations as false, baseless, and mischievous.
In a letter signed by R.A. Lawal-Rabana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Kemi Balogun, Elumelu’s legal team argued that the former UBA MD or any of the organisations associated with him has never been involved or indicted for any fraud as alleged by Senator Akinyelure.
The legal team in the letter said, “Our client is also alarmed and appalled by this deliberate peddling of falsehood and misinformation against an unblemished personal and business reputation, painstakingly built by our clients over several decades with great personal sacrifices and unquestionable integrity.
“Our client rejects Senator Akinyelure’s attempt to use the platform of the respected institution of the Senate of the Federal republic of Nigeria to accomplish whatever ulterior motives he may have.
The statement revealed that the bank appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Relations, brought to the attention of the committee that a matter in connection to the disputed financial indebtness was pending at the Supreme Court and was therefore resolved that actions on the matter should be suspended pending decision of the apex court.
“It is shocking and sacrilegious that the matter pending at the Apex court could be subjected to debate contrary to the rules of the Senate and by extension, the principle of law that when a matter is sub-judice, it should not be subjected to debate before a decision is reached by the court. Therefore, the publications ascribed to Senator Ayo Akinyelure is in total disregard of the Rules of the Senate and The Rule of Law,” the statement said.
“Our client has instructed us to, and we have demanded an open, public, and unreserved retraction of the said statement credited to Senator Akinyelure and an apology from Senator Akinyelure for this false allegation and defamation of our client.
“We have our client’s further instruction to take all appropriate legal action against Senator Ayo Akinyelure and his media agents if our above stated demand is not met within seven (7) days of their receipt of our demand letter.”
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