Ocean Marine Solutions Limited on over the weekend gave reasons why it notified Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and other key government agencies about the divestment from the company by a former Chairman of the defunct Skye Bank, Dr Tunde Ayeni.
The company, said that it also notified the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, among others, of the divestment to dissociate itself from decisions taken by Ayeni in his capacity as the chairman of the defunct Skye Bank.
The Chairman, Ocean Marine Solutions Limited, Capt Hosa Okunbo, was said to have offered Ayeni some shares in the company valued then at about $600, 000.
Meanwhile, in 2016 after Ayeni’s removal as Skye Bank’s chairman, Ayeni, used his company, Prime Union Investment Limited, specifically on August 15, 2018, agreed to sell his shares, including the 175,000,000 ordinary shares in GYRO (and the 50,000,000 shares held by Mrs Ayeni) to Wells Property Development Company Limited (owned by Okunbo) for the total sum of N2bn.
A special resolution of the board of Prime Union Investment Limited, signed by Ayeni and his wife, Biola, confirmed the sale of the shares. Following the agreement, Okunbo, on November 26, 2018, authorised the transfer of N1bn to Ayeni’s Olutoyl Estate Development and Services Ltd’s Sterling Bank account.
According to documents, it was mutually agreed that the balance should be paid in instalment and it was fully paid in September 2020.
The board of OMS on December 20, 2018 notified the Vice-President, CBN governor, NNPC Group Managing Director and the EFCC leadership of Ayeni’s resignation of his membership of the board of the OMS and its affiliate companies.
The Company Secretary, OMS, Mrs Mnena Bara-Hart, in a letter to Osinbajo said it had to notify the VP, CBN, and NNPC to ascertain that ‘all the decisions taken by Dr Ayeni as the Chairman of the defunct Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank) was never influenced by the Board of OMS.’
“OMS Limited bears no responsibility or liability for any action or inaction Dr Ayeni may have taken while serving as chairman of the aforementioned bank or in the position of influence in any other entity or entities,” she added.
While acknowledging the agreement in January 2019, the CBN stated, “Please, be informed that the resignation of Dr Ayeni from the board of your company does not in any way affect his liability or that of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited or any of its subsidiaries/group members, to Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank Limited) and, indeed, any other bank in Nigeria.”
Similarly, the Vice-President in an acknowledgement letter signed by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Ade Ipaye, said, “Your company’s disclaimer as regard the said Dr Ayeni’s activities as chairman of Skye Bank has been duly noted and brought to the attention of His Excellency, the Vice-President.”
However, in a petition to the EFCC by his lawyer, Femi Falana, Ayeni alleged that he was still a part-owner of OMS.
In a joint statement published, the board, management and shareholders of OMS said Ayeni was no longer a shareholder in the company.
The statement read in part, “Dr Olatunde John Ayeni is no longer a Director of OMS and any of its associated companies having resigned from OMS since August 2018. Ayeni sold and transferred all his shares and interests to Wells Property Development Company Limited for valuable consideration since 2018.”
A December 17, 2020 board resolution also averred further that Ayeni had not been involved or connected in any way with the management of the OMS since he sold his shares and resigned from the board.
However, according to the management, when Ayeni became aware in September 2020 that the chairman of OMS, Idahosa Okunbo, had health issues and was undergoing treatment in London, “he has since then started making false claims that he is still a part of OMS.”
The board of the company, the statement noted, were compelled to issue the disclaimer to set the records straight and prevent government agencies, clients of OMS and the general public from being misled.
Meanwhile, in an interview Ayeni said contrary to the claim by the shareholders in their advertorial that he was no longer a director of the company, he still holds 35 per cent in the company till date. He added that he could not be the Chairman of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, bought by OMS, if he wasn’t a shareholder.
He added, “OMS took loan from Polaris Bank and six other banks to buy IBEDC and OMS has been paying the loan. How can you say you bought my shares in OMS and I’m not just the second largest shareholder of IBEDC but also the chairman. How is that possible?”
He explained that he had an arrangement with Okunbo to hold his shares for him when he had issues with the EFCC, especially when there were insinuations that any account traceable to him would be fixed by the commission.
“Therefore, we had an arrangement that he should hold my shares for me until the issues are over, and there was no financial exchange in respect of those shares. If he bought me over as they claimed, I was still receiving payments due to me till September 2020 except for the excess profit we used to share.”
He said the issue started when he wanted PwC to do a forensic audit, following suspicious withdrawals from the company’s account, for the past one and half years that he had not been financially involved, which necessitated his petition.
When reminded that the board signed the advertorial, he said, “He co-opted additional members, including employees, as board members. It’s only me, Okunbo, Garth Dooley and Joseph Aikhomu that are shareholders. And there was no board meeting in 2018.”