Industrialist Cries Out Over Destruction Of His Company By Banks, Begs Tinubu,Others To Intervene

Algrain Foods Limited factory now desolate

By Frank Oshanugor

A Lagos based industrialist and Chief Executive Officer of Algrain Foods Limited, Chief Anthony Obidulu has called on President Bola Tinubu, the Senate President, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwu-Olu and other well meaning Nigerians to
save indigenous entrepreneurs and industrialists from what he described as the “crookedness with which some commercial banks manipulate accounting books relating to loans in a manner that cripple businesses in the country to the great
advantage of banks.”

Speaking to journalists in Lagos at a press conference on Tuesday, Obidulu said he had been running the food company with about 300 direct employees and over 2800 indirect personnel who were deriving their means of livelihood from the
company before the company got involved in a criminally orchestrated seizure by the First City Monument Bank and its collaborators with a view to destroying it. Conducting journalists round the multibillion naira production complex located in
Canal Estate in Okota area of Lagos, the industrialist disclosed that all the assets of the company worth not less than N20billion had been criminally carted away by agents of the FCMB in the guise of carrying out a court judgment that was dubiously procured.

According to him, “Our company is one of the beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s intervention loans tagged Small and Medium Enterprises Credit Guarantee Scheme (SMECGS) in 2011. We got a N100 million of the intervention fund through the bank (FCMB) because one of the conditions for getting the fund was that one must go through a commercial bank to access it. So we opened an account with the bank, from where the fund was accessed. But unfortunately, as the CEO what I personally thought would boost our business and increase the company’s economic base, turned out to be one of our worst economic
decisions as a businessman.

“The N100 million was guaranteed by the Federal Government of Nigeria to the
tune of 80% (Principal and interest) and tenure of 60 months with 12months

Workers in operation before the seizure by banks

moratorium. Final date of repayment ought to be November, 2016 in respect of which the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a Guarantee Certificate to First City Monument Bank Plc. dated 15th March, 2012 containing the afore-mentioned
terms which the Bank concealed from the Federal High Court in securing the judgment they are peddling around.”

Chief Obidulu (middle) Barr. Aloy Ezenduka (right) and Mr. Edwin Igbokwe addressing journalists

Continuing, Obidulu said “the action of the bank became a nightmare that has crippled our business since 2017 and continuing. The bank, cooked up some fictitious figures, and alleged that we owed about N350 million. They went to court behind us, procured an order to take over the company and eventually sealed the company. As at the time they went to court, we had only touched the Federal Government’s money, not the bank’s money.

The offer letter that has not been drawn down is what they relied on to convince the court that our company owed them. The judge did not look at the drawdown, while looking at the offer letter, and he gave the judgment without telling them how much money they can recover from Algrain Foods Limited, thereby giving them an open ticket that has led to the looting that has taken place in the factory as moveable assets worth over N20billion (Twenty Billion Naira) have been stolen from the factory with the aid of Mobile Policemen illegally procured from Mopol 20, Ikeja, Lagos.

“Drawdown means you have touched the money. For example, they gave you
N100 million, you withdrew N80 million, and then, N20 million remains with the
bank and attracts no interest. So, they used the offer letter and other
manipulations to go to court. They had no right in the first place to enforce the
loan which was not even due for repayment as at the time they appointed the
Receiver/Manager because it has a tenure of 60 months, with 12 months

“Final payment was to be due in November, 2016 (5th year anniversary of the facility). In fact the SMECGS guidelines issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria talks of 8 years tenure; it was an intervention fund for Small and medium enterprises engaged in the Agriculture value chain. We did not take any loan from the FCMB because there was no drawdown even on their own N205million (Two Hundred and Five Million Naira, they encouraged us to take in case of financial emergency. Neither was any such money utilized by our company. If they claim otherwise, let the bank show any application to utilize this sum of money by
Algrain Foods Limited,” he stated.

“Having played a fast one on our company by the bank (due to my absence from the country as I was overseas attending a conference) which has now taken over the company, we did not know what to do and where to start. In this desperation, after three months, we initially offered to give the bank N150 million so that the company could be re-opened temporarily.

They said we should put it in writing and we did but they did not accept it. We wanted to use that period to study the
documents they presented to the court to really understand what actually happened, but the bank demanded N450 million. It was at this point we assembled a team of experts in accounting, auditing and banking, as well as legal experts to assist us fight the legal battle that was imminent.
“Regrettably, the first thing the bank did was to overwhelm our team in a manner that created some ambiguity.

The team reported that the bank was wrong to have said we owed them N350 million but rather said what we owed was N280 million.
As the CEO of the company, I personally began to suspect that something was wrong and I used my contact to find out exactly what was happening. I got answers that confirmed my suspicion. So, we disbanded that team and set up a new
team of lawyers, accountants, auditors and ex-bankers. We set up four accounting around the world, one in Toronto, Canada, one in Holland, another one in Enugu, and the fourth one was in Lagos. After two weeks of painstakingly looking into the
books, the account was negative indicating that we were not owning the commercial bank.”

According to Obidulu, it is quite unimaginable how FCMB and its collaborators could get a court judgment that purportedly gave out a company with assets worth over N20billion to a receiver/manager Mr. Emmanuel Adeyeye Oyebanji (Senior
Advocate of Nigeria) for an alleged debt of N350million. Shockingly and surprisingly, the assets had been sold to a foreign company which was in competition. “It is disheartening to say that a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Emmanuel Oyebanji, was appointed as Receiver/Manager by CSL Trustees Limited on behalf of First City Monument Bank (FCMB) when issues revolving
around the disputed N350million loan had not been resolved. The Receiver Manager has converted, and sold assets worth about N20 billion belonging to our company Algrain Foods Limited- located at 15/17, Canal Avenue, Canal Estate,
Okota, Lagos.”

Further, he asked “how can a judge give order that they should go and sell our company without ascertaining how much we owed. It was wrong to do so. That kind of judgment is what has killed many Nigerian businessmen. However, the
Appeal Court ruling of 5th December, 2023 proved that the Judiciary can live up to expectation if the will is there as they permitted us to present the concealed document before the Court to determine the pending appeals. The document they
concealed was what the judges relied on. The statement in the judgment said, ‘If the judge in the lower court had seen that document, he would not have given them that judgment meaning the judgment that empowered them to seal off my
company was wrong. One of the ongoing appeals now in the court by Algrain Foods Limited is for the Court to give limitation order on what can be sold from the company, assuming the alleged N350million indebtedness is proved beyond any doubt.
Speaking on First Bank’s involvement, the Algrains boss said “the FCMB having seen that we were fighting back, involved First Bank of Nigeria which our company had a business dealing with, in the past to join forces to fight us. The two banks
collaborated to put pressure on me that that our company owed them. The official from the First Bank was in my place several times looking for something to rope our company in. He had brought one programme and said they would give us
N50 million in Dangote Flour line, to be repaid at every 60 days interval without interest. And we will put that money towards a flour project.
”We accepted and decided to patronise them. They disbursed N40million worth of flour and before they took our company, we had paid N27 million, remaining N13million out of which we had placed order for N4million worth of flour not
supplied before the closure of the company. But the First Bank of Nigeria joined FCMB to take over the company. They came under N13 million to seal the place but when they wrote us, they said we owed them N155 million. When the books
were dissected, we found out that we had overpaid them. So, we are in court with them on accusation of fraud.

The industrialist is therefore appealing to the Inspector General of Police to also intervene in the matter as some mobile policemen suspected to have been wrongly engaged in the carting away and sales of the machinery and other movable assets of Algrain Foods Limited (which is located on hectares of land) to a foreign company and other buyers. On tour of the premises

by journalists, it was discovered that apart from the expansive warehouses and spaces that used to house production
materials, machines and finished goods, not a single machine, forklift or vehicle was seen.

Over forty trucks and other vehicles belonging to Algrains Food Limited had reportedly been sold by the receiver/manager based on the purported court
judgment which has been challenged on appeal.

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

Leave a Reply