Legal Battle over First Guarantee Pension Resolved

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* Text Box: Kashim Ibrahim takes over as board chairman

By Iyobosa Uwugiaren

The seemingly legal war and boardroom politics that threatened billions of naira of pension contributors of First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL) for 10 years has finally been resolved, with the regulatory agency, National Pension Commission (NPC), giving the reconstituted board headed by Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim Iman few months to bring normalcy to the company.

In a letter with reference number: PenCom/NSP/SURV/2020/511 dated May 1, 2020 and addressed to Chairman, Board of Directors, First Guarantee Pension Limited, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim Imam, the NPC noted that its regulatory intervention in FGPL, which resulted in the appointment of an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to superintend over the affairs of the company had been concluded.

THISDAY gathered that the intervention was undertaken in August 2011 based on the findings of Routine and Special Examination carried out by the commission that allegedly indicted some shareholders and management staff of FGPL.

The NPC stated in the letter that its conclusion of the intervention was as a result of the judgement delivered by the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division on April 30, 2020, in the three appeals filed by the commission, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the FGPL, against the judgement of the Federal High Court that nullified the commission’s regulatory measures.

“The Court of Appeal’s decision upheld the appeals, thereby setting aside the judgement of the Federal High Court in its entirety. Thus this judgement of the Court of Appeal validates the regulatory actions taken by the commission in 2011.

“Accordingly, the commission has handed the FGPL over to its reconstituted board of Directors under the chairmanship of Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim Iman with Hon. Tsegba Terngu, Hon. Ahmed Salik, Dr. Pat Asadu and Hon. George Ozodinobi as members. Concurrently, the commission has dissolved the interim management committee appointed on August 12, 2011’’, the commission stated in its letter.

Assuring all the clients of FGPL that the company had been returned to normality, it reassured pension contributors and the general public that it is alive to its responsibilities of ensuring the safety of the pension industry at all times.

The NPC therefore directed Kashim Ibrahim Imam-led Board to appoint an executive management team acceptable to the commission within two weeks and stabilise the company with respect to the resolution of Novare’s deposite for shares; the shareholding transfers between shareholders and conduct appropriate Annual General Meeting.

It also advised the company not to pay any dividend or tamper with the cash reserves of the company without prior written approval of the regulatory commission.

In the ‘’Target Examination’’ dated March 22, 2011 — with Mr. P. O Aghahowa as Examiner-in-Chief, conducted by the commission, the regulatory agency indicted the then Vice-Chairman of the company, Hon. Chidi Duru and other management staff of criminal breach of trust; gross abuse of the office, conflict of interest in breach of standard code of conduct and ethics for directors and disregard for good corporate governance.

They were also indicted over allotment of shares with accompanying benefits without payment from those shares; suppression of share payment made by some shareholders without crediting them with proportionate shareholding; diversion of capital obtained for share allotment to personal projects which had no bearing with the company’s business and allotment of rights to persons who were hitherto not shareholders of the company during the company’s rights issue exercise.

An insider told THISDAY in confidence that with the legal constrain removed by the Court of Appeal, everyone indicted in the report would now be prosecuted for their alleged offences.