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Abia 2015: Group Drags Otti, Diamond Bank to CBN


…As Members Threatens to Withdraw Deposits from Bank

A socio-political group; South East Progressives Assembly (SEPA) has dragged Diamond bank and its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO), Dr. Alex Otti to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over his refusal to resign his position before formally declaring to contest the governorship of Abia state in 2015.

SEPA accused Otti and Diamond bank of gross violation of banking rules and ethics, financial indiscipline and political rascality unexpected of a top professional banker and alleged complicity of Diamond bank apparently in show of support to the governorship ambition of its chief executive.

In a letter dated 29th August 2014 and addressed to Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria and made available to, SEPA maintained that having formally declared his intention to run for the governorship of Abia state before the Senator Emma Nwaka-led state executive at the PDP secretariat in Umuahia on 13th August 2014, in defiance to the party's zoning arrangement which favours Abia south to produce the next governor, Otti who hails from Arochukwu LGA in Abia North but now claims to be a native of Umuru,Umuehim Nvosi, Isiala-Ngwa South LGA in Abia central senatorial zone, ought to have resigned his present position in compliance with the law as the GMD/CEO of Diamond Bank to contest the governorship position.

“We are constrained to write this letter as a follow-up to our earlier position on Dr. Alex Otti, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Diamond Bank Plc who is contesting the governorship of Abia state while still managing the day-to-day operations of the bank. We had earlier raised concern over the seeming cases of gross violation of banking rules and ethics, financial indiscipline and political rascality exhibited by Dr. Otti regrettably in the face of deceit and falsehood ostensibly employed by Diamond Bank probably to give tacit support to the ill-conceived governorship project of its GMD/CEO.

Dr. Otti's activities, to say the least, are now heating up the polity as well as threatening the prevailing peace currently existing in Abia state. It is also noteworthy to establish herein that SEPA is a stakeholder in Diamond Bank considering the volume of investments and deposit our members have committed in the bank with Dr. Otti as the chief custodian, the letter read in part.

SEPA further raised the alarm over Otti's alleged claims that CBN governor, Emefiele approved the retention of his position as GMD/CEO to pursue his governorship project, adding that such dangerous trend has the potency of collapsing the bank.

While disclosing that its members would soon commence pulling out their deposits from the bank over Otti's alleged unethical conduct and financial indiscipline which is capable of collapsing the bank, the group urged the CBN boss to make categorical statement to protect his reputation and the corporate image of the apex bank.

“Another disturbing scenario is that as we write this letter is that your name and that of Central Bank of Nigeria are being dragged to the mud in Abia. Dr. Alex Otti has continued to tell anyone who cares to listen how he secured your approval to continue sitting as GMD/CEO of Diamond Bank while pursing his governorship project. He is boasting that your support and protection as CBN governor are irrevocable so far his governorship ambition is concerned. In view of the foregoing, SEPA demands you make a categorical statement on this latest claim by Dr. Otti that you are solidly behind his governorship project while still serving as GMD/CEO of Diamond Bank. This, you will agree with us, is necessary to protect your hard earned reputation and the corporate image of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

His hugely alarming spending and perceived unethical conduct poses serious threats to the stability of Diamond Bank. You are aware that Nigerians had lost billions of Naira to financial indiscipline of some greedy bank chiefs whose activities contributed substantially to the untimely death of some commercial banks in the past,” SEPA remarked. gathered that SEPA had on August 10, 2014, issued a press statement where it advised Otti to resign his position as GMD/CEO of Diamond if he insists on contesting the governorship seat of his state.

We completely agree that Dr. Otti at any point in time has the constitutional right to aspire for any elective office as a citizen of Nigeria, but that should be pursued in compliance with the laws of the country considering the sensitivity of the banking sector where he is presently one of the key operators.

We also recall that rather than Dr. Otti who hails from Arochukwu LGA but now claims to be a native of Isiala Ngwa South LGA to respect the decision of his party and His Excellency, Dr. Theodore Orji zoning the 2015 governorship position to Abia South based on equity, justice and fairness, the Diamond Bank boss resorted to attacking the party and the governor. In fact, Dr. Otti had vowed to pull down the party and Gov. Orji with his wealth and connections if they fail to support his governorship ambition.

Precisely on August 13, 2014, after our position was widely reported in the media, Dr. Otti threw caution to the winds, rushed to Umuahia and formally declared his governorship ambition before Senator Emma Nwaka-led State Working Committee (SWC) of Abia PDP.

On that inglorious trip, Dr. Otti chartered private jet and helicopter to convey political jobbers and his followers to Umuahia. He also closed down major hotels and filled them to capacity with prostitutes perhaps using depositors' funds. In fact, Dr. Otti whom we had earlier respected as a gentleman engaged two notorious former members of Federal House of Representatives and a former commissioner from Abia state as his foot soldiers. One of the former lawmakers bears the same name with a former president of a nearby African country while the other answers an obscene and unprintable nickname. Expectedly, the state chairman of the PDP, Senator Emma Nwaka, again advised him to jettison his ambition in support of the decision of his party to zone the governorship to Abia South. But Dr. Otti who would not listen even splashed millions of Naira on some persons probably to lure their support.

SEPA lamented that four days after Dr. Otti's Umuahia declaration, Diamond Bank in a five-point press statement signed by one Ikechukwu M. Omeife, Head, Public Relations, published on Sunday Thisday newspaper, August 17, 2014, denied Dr. Otti and his governorship project. The bank posited: “Dr. Alex Otti has not declared his candidacy for the 2015 gubernatorial elections nor any elective post for that matter. He is, however, not unaware of the media speculation around his possible candidature, a situation he has preferred to ignore in order to concentrate on his principal responsibility of managing the day to day operations of Diamond Bank Plc, and in particular, ensuring the success of the ongoing Rights Issue to raise additional capital”.

The group noted that after placing Diamond Bank's statement side by side with Dr. Otti's formal declaration at Umuahia PDP secretariat on 13th August, 2014, it concluded that the bank may have chosen to trade on a very destructive path at the detriment of people's investments and deposits.

The position of the bank is not only false but deceitful and manifestly unprofessional. Such naked complicity on a very sensitive matter such as this is quite unexpected of a corporate financial institution as big as Diamond bank.

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