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Jim Ovia’s Zenith Bank accused of breach of trust

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Jim-Ovia’s Zenith Bank Plc, one of the leading commercial banks in Nigeria has been identified as a high risk financial institution which general public must be wary of.

This was according a Lagos judge, Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court, sitting in Ikeja, said this while delivering a judgement in case brought before it between the bank as first defendant, State Universal Basic Education as second defendant and Real Integrated And Hospitality Ltd as the claimant.

According to the case, the claimant approached the court and accused the bank of breach of contract, inability to access its account number 1012465427 domiciled with latter and prayed the court cause the bank to pay interests on over N8million naira, the fund the bank refused it access to since 2011.

Not only that, the claimant is also demanding interest of 10% on judgement sum till when the case is finally liquidated and with a cost of N5million naira as cost of action.

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Though the counsel to the bank initially denied knowledge of the business transaction between his client and the claimant, the presiding judge insisted that the bank carried itself in a fraudulent manner by ensuring it benefited from holding onto the sum of N872,780,552.84 in its custody without paying interest since 2011.

“The first defendant has been the beneficiary of the malevolent game of chess it plunged both claimant and the 2nd defendant into, holding the sum of N872,780,552.84 in its custody without paying interest thereon from 17th February 2011 until 2nd February 2016 when the Court ordered that the money be paid into an interest yielding account in the names of the claimant and the 2nd defendant pending determination of the suit, which order was curiously varied by the consent of all the parties on 20th September 2016 so that the money remained in the 1st defendant’s custody without interest,” she said.

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While granting the four reliefs sought by the claimant, Justice Abike-Fadipe also chided Zenith Bank and its management over what she referred to as unreasonable and deliberate act against the interest of the claimant and the bank’s customers in general.

“The act of the first defendant (Zenith Bank) was unconscionable and detrimental to the goodwill of the claimant and its trade credit with its customers. It was a deliberate and malicious act against the interest of the claimant and the first defendant continues to enjoy the largesse in bad faith,” she said.

The judge also accused the bank of deliberate and nonchalance to the needs of its customer as a banking institution.

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“Exhibits C4 and C5 clearly state that the funds to be transferred were to offset part of the claimant’s indebtedness for the importation of dictionaries, but the first defendant was impervious to this need. I therefore find and hold that the claimant is entitled to substantial damages against the first defendant for the injury caused to it.”

Having established that the bank is liable, the court then ruled in the favour of claimant that Zenith Bank breached contract of agreement signed between it and its customer by depriving the claimant access to its fund.

“The reliefs are that the 1st defendant (Zenith) was in breach of contract when on 7th October, 2011 it refused the claimant to draw from its account No. 1012465427 despite the fact that the said account was in enough credit to cover the withdrawals sought to be made on the said date.

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“First defendant is also restrained from disturbing or refusing the claimant from operating its account No. 1012465427 in the first defendant’s bank or from honouring the claimant’s transfer or payment obligations to third parties from the said account as long as same is in credit,” the judge ruled.

Real Integrated And Hospitality Ltd was also granted an interest of 15% per annum on the sum of N872,780,552.84 from 7th October 2011 when the Zenith Bank denied the claimant access to the funds in its account which was in credit at that date till judgment.

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Elumelu says strong insurance sector foundation for strong Nigeria

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Tony Elumelu, CON, Chairman, Heirs Holdings and United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), giving a keynote address at the recent 60th anniversary of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) conference, underlined the importance of a vibrant, well capitalised and deep insurance sector to Nigeria’s economy.

“Not least in these testing times, our people need financial security, secure savings and protection against uncertainty. Our industry needs to offer simple, smart products, that give value and deliver. We need an industry that is professional and can catalyse investment in key sectors such as power, infrastructure and housing”.

Elumelu congratulated the NCRIB on its anniversary and the role it has played, joining other prominent guests including Commissioner for Insurance and the President of NCRIB. But he stated there was no room for complacency, with the sector needing to regain trust, stamp down on malpractice and fundamentally evolve its customer proposition to deepen the insurance penetration.

He emphasised the commitment of Heirs Holdings to the insurance industry.

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He said: “Our two insurance companies, Heirs Life Assurance and Heirs Insurance Limited, are both leading democratisation of access to insurance – which is a tool for financial inclusion, employment creation, poverty eradication and female advancement. In a country of two hundred million, we can, should and must be more relevant than we are today. I am an optimist, not a pessimist. I know that times are tough, but together we can, and we will transform our industry, create value, and provide solutions that demonstrate the value of insurance to our people.”

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Reiterating Elumelu’s stance, Mr. Sunday Thomas, Commission for Insurance called for more collaboration and effort in enabling access to insurance, stating that the industry could do more in this prospect.

He said: “It is a fundamental truth that the insurance sector exists for other sectors to thrive. A lot has been achieved, but there is still more work to be done. Until insurance becomes the oxygen that homes and other industries breathe, and a subject that is known to everyone, we have not arrived”.

The President, NCRIB, Barrister Rotimi Edu, appreciated Elumelu for delivering the keynote speech at the event, while making a commitment on behalf of the Council to further deepen insurance penetration in Nigeria.

He said: “The Council is already creating avenues through strategic engagements with notable governmental and non-governmental institutions to deepen the industry in the country”.

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Heirs Insurance and Heirs Life are lead sponsors of the NCRIB 60th Anniversary, alongside investment group United Capital Plc and healthcare management company, Avon HMO, all investee companies of Heirs Holdings, a pan-African investment group, with a portfolio spread across 24 African countries and four continents.

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150 Years: FrieslandCampina Pays Tribute to Member Dairy Farmers

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To mark the end of its 150th anniversary year, FrieslandCampina presents its new short film, A New Day. The film pays tribute to the many generations of dairy farmers who have made FrieslandCampina what it is today; a dynamic, forward-looking dairy cooperative and a global company.

‘A New Day’ tells the story of the next generation of farmers, focused on the future of dairy farming with lots of passion and determination, while adapting to the rapidly changing world.

According to Hein Schumacher, CEO FrieslandCampina: “We are very proud of our farmers and our cooperative heritage. For over 150 years, our member farmers have always managed to adapt to what the market and society demand from them. By actively responding to evolving needs and constantly innovating, they have developed themselves into very innovative farmers.

“I have great admiration for the next generation of farmers, especially in these tense and uncertain times. They are building the future of sustainable dairy farming, with the same commitment and unwavering spirit as the many generations before them. This film is our tribute to all dairy farmers, young and old,” Schumacher said.

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Also commenting, Ben Langat, Managing Director, FrieslandCampina Sub-Saharan Africa said, “The story of our cooperative is a special one. ‘A New Day’ celebrates our farmers who are playing that critical role in bringing better nutrition to the tables of families across Sub-Saharan Africa. FrieslandCampina Sub-Saharan Africa salutes our farm heroes and remains steadfast in our commitment and support to the development and prosperity of our local dairy farmers.”

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The four-minute film tells the story of three young dairy farmers who are on a journey, sometimes literally, as they face dilemmas, make choices and emerge stronger, ready for a new day. The film shows the challenges they are facing in this rapidly changing world. ‘A New Day’ is the sequel to ‘The Story of Milk, produced in 2012, also by corporate cinema agency 1Camera.

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Watch it below.

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Asia’s richest man sees growing isolation for China

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Indian billionaire Gautam Adani says that China “will feel increasingly isolated” and the “foremost champion of globalization” would find it hard to bounce back from a period of economic weakness.

Speaking at a conference in Singapore on Tuesday, Adani said “increasing nationalism, supply chain risk mitigation, and technology restrictions,” as well as resistance to Beijing’s huge Belt and Road initiative, would impact China’s global role.

Asia’s richest man said that “housing and credit risks” in the world’s second largest economy were also “drawing comparisons with what happened to the Japanese economy during the ‘lost decade’ of the 1990s.”

Adani was speaking less than a month after the business mogul became the world’s third richest man, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is the first Asian to take that spot.

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The founder of the eponymous Adani Group controls companies ranging from ports to power.

While pessimistic about China, Adani remains bullish about his own country, saying that India is “one of the few relatively bright spots from a political, geostrategic, and market perspective.”

He anticipates India to become the world’s third largest economy by 2030, with “the largest consuming middle class the world will ever see.”

Some technology firms looking to reduce their dependence on Chinese manufacturing already see India as an attractive alternative.

On Monday, Apple announced that it has started making its new iPhone 14 in India, as the technology giant looks to diversify its supply chain. While the company manufactures the bulk of its products in China, it has decided to start producing its latest devices in India much earlier than with previous generations.

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Businesses may have to move away from China not just because of its strict Covid restrictions, which have been hurting supply chains for months now, but also because of rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan.

The US government ordered two of America’s top chipmakers to stop selling high-performance chips to China earlier this month. And, last week, leaders of America’s biggest banks said they could exit China if it ever attacks Taiwan.

Adani also mentioned the challenges facing the United Kingdom, and countries in the European Union, because of the war in Ukraine and Brexit.

“While I expect all these economies will readjust over time — and bounce back — the friction of the bounce-back looks far harder this time,” he said.

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