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Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC’s Rejoinder to The Guardian Newspaper Publication on Ascon Oil

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Cybersecurity Is a Collective Responsibility – Stanbic IBTC Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC has urged the public to see security in cyberspace as a collective responsibility. The organisation made this call during the cybersecurity webinar organised to commemorate Global Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Annually, Global Cybersecurity Awareness Month holds every October to build resilience against cyber threats and create awareness about the dangers posed by the various cyber criminals to individuals and businesses. Themed “See Yourself in Cyber”, this year’s campaign draws attention to the importance of being responsible for one’s security in cyberspace. A recent study by Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that cybercrime will globally cost an estimated $10.5 trillion yearly in damages by 2025. This projection necessitates individuals to take action to stay safe online, organisations to have a robust cyber workforce, and the government to make policies that safeguard internet users and their data. During the virtual event, Confidence Staveley, Founder, Cybersecurity Foundation, listed the possible threats combating internet users and how cybercriminals take advantage of the vulnerabilities of their victims. She also noted that it is a shared responsibility among all stakeholders to ensure safety during online activities. “To see yourself in Cyber means that every individual has a role to play in being knowledgeable about the way hackers operate. Cybercriminals are taking proactive measures to switch from hacking technologies to hacking humans with a deception tool. Therefore, customers must remember that Stanbic IBTC would never request for your account details.” She added, “Cybercriminals rely on manipulating the emotions of their victims to make irrational decisions that put them at risk. Customers must remain logical when they notice mails and SMS prompting them to release their details.” Abumere Igboa, Chief Information Security Officer, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, stated during the event that Stanbic IBTC constantly shares tips with customers to identify and avoid possible online scams. According to Abumere, “Online banking has gained more popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic, and cybercrime has grown alongside. Online users must enable basic cyber hygiene practices such as updating their apps to the latest version and clicking links from trusted sources only. “We also advise internet users to have good strong passwords or use a trusted password manager and enable multi-factor authentication on all sensitive accounts” he added. Abumere stated that Stanbic IBTC prioritises the safety of its customers and ensures the security of its digital platforms with innovative technology to detect, monitor and stop online threats during financial transactions. “Staying safe and secure online is a shared responsibility that begins with you and me. We collaboratively must support and remain committed to Cybersecurity. Should you notice any suspicious activity on your online platforms, don’t delay – act promptly and reach out to our 24/7 customer support centre,” Abumere advised.

Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC’s Rejoinder to The Guardian Newspaper Publication on Ascon Oil

 

The attention of our client, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC (“our client/Stanbic”) has been drawn to a press release published on page 28 of The Guardian Newspaper of Wednesday, 9th November 2022 by a faceless “Concerned Downstream Oil & Gas Industry Stakeholders” and captioned “Stanbic IBTC Bank Contempt and Deliberate Sabotage of Judicial Process”. The publication, a diversionary tactic, aimed at misleading our client’s customers, stakeholders and the general public, maliciously insinuated that our client employed extra-judicial processes in its attempt to recover the indebtedness of Ascon Oil Company Limited (“Ascon”) and also sabotaged lawful judicial processes.

 

We are not unaware of the fact that the dispute between our client, Ascon and Quest Oil and Engineering Services Limited (“Quest”) are currently sub judice as they are subject of cases pending before the High Court of Lagos State, the Federal High Court as well as the Court of Appeal. Without prejudice to the matters currently before the Courts, it is imperative to provide the following clarification to dispel the malicious misinformation contained in the publication.

1.            Our client is a foremost financial institution committed to driving financial inclusion in Africa and contributing to the economic development of Nigeria. Our client as a law-abiding corporate organization has consistently carried out its businesses within the confines of the law.

2.            Our client advanced several credit facilities to Ascon and Ascon serially defaulted in repaying the facilities. As of 11th May 2020, Ascon’s outstanding indebtedness to our client stood at the sum of N2,465,914,688 (two billion, four hundred and sixty-five million, nine hundred and fourteen thousand, six hundred and eighty-eight Naira) and USD$59,260.94 (fifty-nine thousand, two hundred and sixty Dollars, ninety-four Cents) with interest accruing daily.

3.            Due to Ascon’s failure to repay its indebtedness, Stanbic appointed Mr. Olawale Akoni SAN (“the receiver”) as a Receiver over the petrol filling station at Block 36, Admiralty Way, Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1, Eti-Osa Local Government Area, Lagos State (“the property”) used as security for the loan, pursuant to its powers in the deed of legal mortgage it executed with Ascon.

4.            Consequently, the Receiver approached the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/567/2020 Olawale Akoni SAN v. Ascon Oil Company Limited, where he obtained an Order on 15th May 2020, directing the men and officers of the Nigerian Police Force to offer protection to the Receiver, to take over possession of the property used as security for the loan facilities.

5.            The Receiver in the company of the men and officers of the Force, executed the said Order on 20th May 2020, as he peaceably took over possession of the property and handed same over to Stanbic who assigned its ownership to Rainoil Limited at the material time.

6.            Stanbic thereafter instituted an action before the High Court of Lagos State in Suit No. LD/6965GCM/2020: Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc v Ascon Oil Company Limited to recover the balance of the sum owed to it by Ascon, which debt continues to accrue interest on a daily basis.

7.            Ascon applied to the Federal High Court to set aside the Order made in favour of the Receiver on 15th May 2020. However, in the Court’s ruling of 24th July 2020, the Court affirmed that the actions of the Receiver taken pursuant to the Order of the Court directing police protection is valid and thus refused to set aside the Order or any actions or steps taken pursuant to the Order. Ascon immediately appealed this ruling to the Court of Appeal vide a notice of appeal dated 5th August 2021 and is requesting that the ruling of the Federal High Court be set aside. There is nowhere in the Court Orders of 15 May 2020 and 24 July 2020 or any other Court Order whatsoever that grants Ascon or anybody acting on their behalf to take possession of the property/Petrol Filling Station.

8.            Nevertheless, Ascon, in a brazen display of self-help and disobedience to valid Court Orders, proceeded to the subject’s property on 4th August, 2020 and attempted to take over possession of the property. However, Ascon’s unlawful actions were swiftly repelled.  Unsatisfied with its failed attempts at unlawfully retaking possession, Ascon instituted multiple Court actions against Stanbic and reported Stanbic to several regulatory and law enforcement agencies.

9.            Rather than respect the status quoand await the judicial resolution of the pending suits, Ascon on Friday, 13th August, 2021, in an illegal act of self-help, willful destruction and illegal takeover of property, led some thugs and unauthorized law enforcement officers to the subject property and unlawfully took over the property, despite the pendency of a Court Order. Ascon thereafter mischievously rebranded the name of the Petrol Station from Ascon to Quest Oil.

10.       In Order to perpetuate and surreptitiously legalize its unlawful takeover, Ascon on Friday, 20th August 2021 obtained an Order from the Lagos High Court in Suit No. LD/8029GCMW/2021 – Ascon Oil Company Limited v Rain Oil Limited mandating that the parties maintain status quo. Stanbic is not a party to this suit nor was it named in the said Order. Interestingly, the status quo is that Stanbic remains the owner of the property having exercised its powers under the deed of legal mortgage and accordingly, Ascon (acting as Quest Oil) ought to have since relinquished possession to Stanbic in compliance with the status quo Order. However, Ascon/Quest has chosen to act in utter contempt and breach of the Court Order.

11.       It is imperative to add that Ascon has never denied its indebtedness to Stanbic. Unfortunately, and contrary to the impression created in the malicious publication, Ascon has not made any offer for amicable settlement of the dispute or submitted any proposal to Stanbic for the repayment of its protracted debt, which continues to accrue interest on a daily basis. Rather, Ascon has characteristically challenged the quantum of the debt. In Order to determine its indebtedness to our client, Ascon filed an application in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/618/2020 Ascon Oil Company Limited vs. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, wherein, Honourable Justice I. N Oweibo of the Federal High Court, Lagos appointed Deloitte to conduct a forensic audit Ascon’s account with Stanbic and confirm Ascon’s outstanding indebtedness to Stanbic.

12.       The publication in The Guardian Newspaper is not only regrettable, but it is malicious and a gross misrepresentation of facts as well as a disservice to the reading general public. The publication in The Guardian was obviously engineered under the guise of a faceless group called “Concerned Downstream Oil & Gas Industry Stakeholders”.

13.       Our client will not join issues with Ascon and its multitude of intermediaries over the pages of newspapers. Our client believes that justice will prevail through the instrumentality of the judicial process. While we counsel Ascon, Quest and their directors to eschew its extra-judicial tendencies and focus on how to repay its debts, we have our client’s firm instruction to take all lawful steps to protect its image and goodwill and we will not hesitate to initiate appropriate lawful measures to execute this instruction.

Signed:

BABALAKIN & CO

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Heritage Bank supports over 500 widows, receives UN Award for Humanitarian Service 

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Heritage Bank supports over 500 widows, receives UN Award for Humanitarian Service 

Heritage Bank supports over 500 widows, receives UN Award for Humanitarian Service 

 

 

 

 

Heritage Bank received the 2022 United Nations Award for Humanitarian Service by the Widows & Orphans Support Society of Nigeria (WOSSA), as no fewer than 500 widows and orphans in Lagos State benefitted from the Bank’s supports. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was made known during the award ceremony held in Lagos to mark this year’s International Widows Day themed: Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event was opportunity to recognize Heritage Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) roles to widows, their children and other less privileged within the society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking during the awards presentation, Founder, Widows & Orphans Support Society of Nigeria (WOSSA), Ambassador Tayo Thomas, said Heritage Bank is one of the group’s key partners and has for years shown massive support to the widows. 

He said: ” Basically, we are giving this award to people and organizations that have been supporting the less privileged widows. These are our partners, they have been doing great service to humanity, especially service the less privileged widows in meeting their financial needs and those of their children”. 

Continuing, he said: “The United Nations Humanitarian Award is to appreciate and acknowledge them for their support to the less privileged widows. The United Nations Humanitarian Award is an award we give every 24th of June to those who have really supported the widows. Those who have joined us to fight against injustice against the widows. That is the reason for today”. 

Speaking at the event, Heritage Bank Regional Head, Lagos Island 1, Olawale Osundele, said the bank has for years, remained committed to improving people’s lives. 

He said: “It has always been one of our front liners to always improve the quality of people’s lives right from childhood. And today that they are marking the International Widow’s Day, we are also part of the support team to WOSSA in various aspects.”

“We have been supporting them in terms of providing quality education for children of widows to ensure that life after the death of their husband is still good to them and their children. We also support the children and orphan and the less privileged in the society,” he added.

According to Osundele, the bank’s support to the widows has always been a source of joy to them.  “It means that life still means a lot to them. You can see the joy in their faces. Despite what they are going through, they are still very happy and relevant in the society,” he said. 

One of the widows at the event, Mrs. Felicia Ugwunwanne thanked Heritage Bank and WOSSA for their continuous support to the widows and less privileged. 

She said that WOSSA is through the support of partners such as Heritage Bank, making life better for the widows and their children. 

“The WOSSA has for years, been assisting so many of us, including our children and orphanages. WOSSA gives us cash, help some widows to pay their house rent, school fees for widows’ children, among other things,” she said.

Ugwunwanne said the widows under WOSSA are being trained for skills acquisition to improve the quality of their lives.

“I am aware that the WOSSA is working on securing loan from Microfinance Bank, and we have completed forms to achieve the purpose. Our members are prepared to access the loans. Some of the widows have gone to learn some skills that will enable them to invest and succeeded in whatever craft or business they are doing, so that they will not continue to depend on people,” she said

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ZENITH BANK WINS “BANK OF THE YEAR, NIGERIA” IN THE BANKER AWARDS 2022

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PRUDENTIAL AFRICA LEADS INDUSTRY WITH HIGHEST NUMBER OF MILLION DOLLAR ROUND TABLE (MDRT) QUALIFIERS 

ZENITH BANK WINS “BANK OF THE YEAR, NIGERIA” IN THE BANKER AWARDS 2022

 

 

 

 

Zenith Bank Plc has emerged as Bank of the Year in Nigeria in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2022. The award, which was announced by The Banker Magazine, Financial Times Group, United Kingdom, during the awards ceremony held in London on December 1, 2022, was in recognition of Zenith Bank’s strong management, sound business model and strategy, support for small businesses and efforts to cut energy consumption. According to the Banker, Nigeria’s Bank of the Year award was among the continent’s most hotly contested this year, befitting the country’s status as Africa’s largest economy. This is coming on the heels of the award as Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital by The Banker won by Zenith Bank earlier in the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZENITH BANK WINS “BANK OF THE YEAR, NIGERIA” IN THE BANKER AWARDS2022

 

 

 

Commenting on the award, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said: “winning the Bank of the Year attests to our tenacity as an institution despite a very challenging operating environment exacerbated by persistent macroeconomic headwinds. Indeed, being recognised by The Banker – the world’s longest running international banking title, is an acknowledgement of the resilience of the Zenith brand as the leading financial institution in Nigeria and the West African sub-region.” He lauded the Founder and Chairman, Jim Ovia, CFR, for his guidiance and pioneering role in laying the foundation and building the structures for an enduring and successful institution, the Board for their outstanding leadership, the staff for their commitment and dedication as well as the Bank’s customers for their unflinching loyalty to the Zenith brand over the years.

 

Regarded as the industry standard for banking excellence, The Banker’s Bank of the Year award is contested by the world’s leading financial institutions, with winners chosen across Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central & Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, North America and Western Europe.

 

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn it numerous awards, including being recognised as Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 13th consecutive year, in the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Best Bank in Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria 2021 and 2022 in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022; Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, by the Ethical Boardroom; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation In Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards. Also, the Bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and Retail Bank of the year, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

 

Similarly, Zenith Bank was honoured as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020 and emerged winner in four categories at the Sustainability, Enterprise, and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2021, carting home the awards for “Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organisation in Africa.

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Sterling Refreshes Romance With The Arts At Ake Festival

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Sterling Refreshes Romance With The Arts At Ake Festival

 

 

 

 

Sterling Bank Plc, Nigeria’s leading financial institution, has said it is committed to supporting the annual Ake Books and Arts Festival because it sees Nigeria as part of a larger world and believes that Nigeria’s ultimate competitiveness lies in its energy.
 

 

 

Sterling Refreshes Romance With The Arts At Ake Festival

 

Executive Director at Sterling, Yemi Odubiyi, who disclosed this over the weekend in a goodwill message at the opening of the 10th edition of the Ake Books and Arts Festival said Nigeria can become a leader in the world and its creative people as part of its competitiveness.

Odubiyi continued by saying that “Nigeria enjoys a comparative advantage in the arts and culture domain, and Sterling, being focused on promoting the development of human capital and improving national competitiveness, is thrilled to have been a part of the festival for the past six years and plans to continue to do so.”

Also speaking, Founder and Director of Ake Books and Arts Festival, Lola Shoneyin said, “I’m often amused when people say they can’t believe how long we’ve been doing this. I believe it has been 10 years. It has been 10 years of bringing brainwaves to life, 10 years of learning, 10 years of celebrating the incredible work that so many of you have done and are still doing and 10 years of making lifelong friends.”

She said ‘Homecoming’ was chosen as the theme of this year’s festival because, “We were going back to Abeokuta where it all began, and it was time to reconnect with our ancestral roots. The main reason ‘Homecoming’ was so perfect is that we couldn’t wait to have you back at Ake after the COVID-19 pandemic”.

She said, after two years of lockdown and online festivals, the festival is back again as participants can mingle, catch up on news and strengthen their friendships. Adding that this moment, this feeling, is what has kept them going.

The Founder said the priority has always been to ensure that guests feel at home since the very first edition of the Ake Festival. Consequently, during this year’s edition of Ake Review, guests were asked to express what home means to them, and the common responses were: A place of love; friendship and a sense of belonging, she said.

Shoneyin thanked the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, Professor Abdulrazaq Gurnah and his wife, Professor Denise Gurnah for honoring the invitation to attend the festival in person. She also thanked the headliner of this year’s festival, Professor Veronique Tadjo, for finding time to be a part of the festival.

Other highlights of this year’s festival include the hosting of Directors of the Global Association of Literary Festivals while many of the panel sessions explored different aspects of the theme.

Some of the sessions focused on why home exerts a pull on us, stirs our creative impulses, influences our creative expressions, evokes profound sentiments, and shapes our perception of the outside world.

Others explored the impact of conflict, capitalism, and climate disasters as well as what it means to be displaced, to live away from home and, of course, to return. The festival also featured book discussions on the idea of a home and how for some people, the home might not be a place of safety, but a place of violence, among others.

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