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Corporate investor, Ayeni, battles Okunbo over OMSL, others

Fingers Ned Nwoko in criminal breach

Embattled Chairman of Nigerias controversial maritime security outfit, Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL), Chief Idahosa Okunbo, is up in the news yet again for the wrong reasons.

Okunbo according to a report by the very influential and authoritative Cable News outfit was accused by corporate player and ex-chairman of the board of directors of defunct Skye Bank Plc, Tunde Ayeni, of illegal appropriation of OMSL funds; which he claimed he co-founded and remains a valid co-owner.

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Ayeni in a reported petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleged forceful takeover of OMSL by Okunbo, his partner, and have asked the commission to investigate gross mismanagement and criminal diversion of company funds by the retired naval chief.

Ayeni through his counsel, Femi Falana in a petition dated December 7, 2020 alleged that Okunbo, whom he said had been his partner since 2003, deceived him and took over control of the company while he was undergoing a court trial, and further alleged that Okunbo cashed in on his distraction during his trial to manipulate and arm-twist him through cunning, and notes he was unaware of his partners ulterior motives.

In addition, Ayeni in the petition claimed he and Okunbo invested in the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), and that the latter moved the companys account to another bank and abandoned repayment of a $100 million loan used to fund the acquisition of the power firm; whilst he Ayeni was embroiled in his court trial.

The petition reads in part: Subsequently, Capt. Hosa Okunbo told our client that all accounts of the businesses that he was involved in for which he was a signatory, was being rumoured to be closed because of the trial our client was facing, and it was important for him to step aside from the Ocean Marine and its subsidiaries structure and hand over to him, so that he could protect the income sources as that was the only source of income with which to fund the faithful repayment of the gross liabilities, which were well over $150 million owed to a consortium of banks led by Polaris Bank over the acquisition of the IBEDC and the YEDC DisCos as at the time.

Our client agreed to the advice and did not doubt Capt. Hosa Okunbos sincerity and intention to act in good faith, based on the trust our client had in him as they had both been working and partnering together since July 2003.”

Ayeni alleged that Okunbo late this year however informed him that he has since bought him out of OMSL, a position he dismissed as untrue and wicked. Ayeni said he was confronted with the bitter truth of the scheme to outwit him in September 2020, when his partner failed to remit his monthly allowances, and other elongated structured obligations.

At no point was an actual sale of his interest in Ocean Marine Solutions Ltd or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates ever discussed, but Capt. Hosa Okunbo is trying to use the gentlemens arrangement to forcefully take over his holdings of the Company whose monthly income is about $9 million.

However, since the suggestion was effected, our client does not receive emails and briefings from the group in respect of the businesses and finances any longer, but our client was getting the monthly allowance they had agreed to be paying themselves and his wifes monthly allowance which was $350,000 and about N12.5 million for our client and $25,000 for his wife.

Even for his monthly payment, he asked our client to provide an account in which he was not a Director or signatory. He did so and his monthly allowances were regularly being paid until September 2020 when the payment completely stopped due to apparent irreconcilable differences bordering on financial impropriety of Capt. Hosa Okunbo.

Our client has since discovered a lot of stealing and diversion, as well as gross mismanagement of large sums of money belonging to the Company. When our client confronted Capt. Hosa Okunbo, he had no defence whatsoever but claimed that he had bought our client out of the Company and that he cannot complain.

This is a company where Capt. Hosa Okunbo owns 46%, our client 35%, Garth Dooley 14% and Admiral Joe Aikhomu 5%.

Ayeni also accused his estranged partner of refusing to pay back $2 million he took from the company to fund the current Liberian presidents election.

Similarly, Ayeni reportedly further alleged that Okunbo may have turned business associates against him, as he revealed that he and Okunbo jointly gave about $6 million to Ned Nwoko, a politician, to secure a business deal.

However, Nwoko, according to Ayeni, allegedly said he never had any dealing with Ayeni or the company.

I wish to state that at no point in time have I had any dealings with Ayeni or Ocean Marine Solutions in whatever capacity as it relates to the above transaction. I have never received any sum from Ayeni which he purported in his petition and he has never played any role whatsoever as it relates to this transaction, Nwoko reportedly wrote in his response to the inspector-general of police (IGP).

All transactions on the subject matter were done direct with Capt. (Dr.) Idahosa Wells Okunbo in his personal capacity to the exclusion of any other party including Ocean Marine Solutions Limited. To suggest otherwise as contained in the said petition is merely a malicious statement devoid of truth.

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