Society Watch By Adebayo Adeoye
Anyone who has undertaken a careful study of the life of Tony Elumelu, Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, or even taken more than a passing interest in his inspirational journey in the industry, will know without any disputation that he has always plied his trade with impressive professionalism.
Today, he is a role model to many in and out of the banking industry obviously because of his disciplined lifestyle and strict adherence to the rules of the game, which has given him fame and acceptability across the globe.
As much as humanly possible, the banking guru also runs away always from any kind of business that will tarnish his hard-earned reputation.
Indeed, at a deeper level, Elumelu, who is loved for being business-minded, is said to detest negative publicity.
It is understandable, therefore, his angst last week when Senator Akinyelure, Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, accused both Elumelu and UBA of involvement in a N41-billion fraud involving the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, NITEL, in liquidation.
Since Akinyelure’s proclamation, many who know Elumelu for being straightforward and honest have maintained that there must be a kind of mistake somewhere.
Consequently, Elumelu is set to engage the senator in a legal battle to clear his name, as his lawyers, R.A. Lawal-Rabana (SAN) and Kemi Balogun (SAN), have written to the senator describing the accusation as “false, baseless, and mischievous allegation as neither him nor any of the organisations associated with him has ever been involved in or indicted for any fraud as was falsely alleged by Senator Ayo Akinyelure.”
According to his counsel, the allegation is also “a deliberate peddling of falsehood and misinformation against an unblemished personal and business reputation, painstakingly built by our client over several decades with great personal sacrifice and unquestionable integrity.”
Elumelu, through his lawyers, is demanding an immediate open, public, and unreserved retraction of the said statements credited to Akinyelure and an apology for the false allegation and defamation of his reputation.
A source disclosed to Society Watch that the founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, (TNC) would do his best possible to protect his reputation, adding that “he would not allow anyone to drag it in the mud.”