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Alleged Fraud: Ex-Lawmaker Sues Obi, Others Over N5bn Brewery

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SAN FRANCISCO, April 03, (THEWILL) – The Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi, has been dragged to court over a N5billion investment he made in a brewery sited in Onitsha.

Mr. Chudi Offodile, a former member of the House of Representatives, who dragged the governor to court, is alleging that the brewery, Sabmiller Breweries, was set up with N5 billion belonging to the people and government of Anambra State.

Joined as defendants with Obi in the suit filed by Offodile’s counsel, Patrick Ikwueto, SAN, at a Federal High Court in Abuja is a company owned by the family of the governor, Next International Limited, and six others.

Also joined as defendants in the suit are Intafact Beverages Limited, Sabmiller Nigeria Holdings BV, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Hearing in the matter has been fixed for April 30 and Justice M.L. Mohammed has been assigned to handle the case.

Offodile is asking for a declaration that the brewery (Intafact Brewery) established by the first defendant, Intafact Beverages Limited, is a property of and wholly belongs to the Anambra State Government.

He also asked the court for an order directing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants (Intafact Beverages Limited, Sabmiller Nigeria Holdings BV, and Next International Nigeria Limited) to render full account of the operations including the costs of the establishment of the brewery established with the monies of the government of Anambra State and known as Intafact Brewery, Onitsha .

Offodile further asked the court for an order directing the 5th defendant (Corporate Affairs Commission) to rectify the records of the 1st defendant by removing the names of the 2nd and 3rd defendants as the shareholders/directors of the 1st defendant.

In what he termed as the particulars of the alleged fraud, Offodile stated that as at 12th April 2011, the 1st defendant did not have 300 shares of N100,000 each purportedly allotted and as represented by the written resolution of the Board of Directors of Intafact Beverages Limited dated April 12th, 2012.

According to him, the consideration provided for the allotment of shares in the 1st defendant by 2nd defendant and 4th defendants is the sum N23million and N3million respectively.

"Monies belonging to the Government of Anambra State were illegally diverted and siphoned towards the establishment of the brewery.

"Neither the 2nd defendant nor Sabmiller African (to whom 9,987,500 ordinary shares of N1.00 each was allotted in the authorised capital of the 1st defendant) brought any capital towards the establishment of the brewery known as Intafact Brewery owned by the 1st defendant.

"SABMiller Africa which was allotted 9,987,500 ordinary shares of N1.00 each in the authorised share capital of Intafact on 16 April 2008 is an offshore company registered in the Republic of Mauritus. SABMIller Africa is not the same legal entity as SABMiller Nigeria Holdings BV to which 230 ordinary shares of N100,000 each were purportedly allotted on April 12th, 2011.

"SABMiller Africa and SABMiller Nigeria Holding BV are foreign companies within the meaning of the Companies and Allied Matters Act and can only invest in Nigeria and acquire shares in any entity in Nigeria through the importation of capital into Nigeria," he stated.

The plaintiff further averred that save for the consideration of N23million represented as provided by SABMiller Nigeria Holdings BV as per "written resolution" dated April 12th, 2011, there was no reorder of any consideration provided by SABMiller Africa for the alleged investment/ownership in the multimillion Naira brewery established by the 1st defendant in Onitsha, Anambra State.

Offodile said he would prove at the trial that any importation of capital into the Federal Republic of Nigeria must be registered and or processed by the 6th and 7th defendants (CBN and SEC).

"However the register of the SEC containing particulars of foreign portfolio investment does not have record of the importation of capital via a foreign direct investment with regards to SABMiller Africa or SABMiller Nigeria Holding BV, "he contended.

Offodile further stated that "at the Commissioning of the Brewery, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Anambra State openly stated that the value of the investment by the Government of Anambra State in the Brewery was in excess of N2billion.

"The 3rd defendant (Next International Nig. Limited) was incorporated on 26th May 1988 with a share capital of N1million, the company subsequently increased its share capital to N5million on May 26th 1996.

"At incorporation, the shareholders/directors were, Mr. Peter Gregory Obi (the current Governor of Anambra State and Oche Attah Oche, who was removed as a director of the company on July 3rd 1996.

"He purportedly resigned from the company on March 15,2006 having been declared governor but since his assumption of office ,Mr. Peter Gregory Obi's uterine brothers have managed the affairs of Next International Nig, Limited and the company has continued to function as a family business of Mr. Peter Gregory Obi."