Pension Fraud: EFCC To File Fresh Charges Against Chidi Duru

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is to file fresh criminal charges against Hon Nze Chidi Duru, a former House of Representatives member, following a petition sent to agency by some shareholders of the First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL).

The combative role by Duru in the pension firm, recently took a new dimension, when Duru and his lawyer, Mr Smart Iheazor, were recently dragged before a Chief Magistrate’s Court in Lagos by the police for alleged stealing.

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They were charged with four-count bordering on “conspiracy, stealing, breach of peace and impersonation.’’

The prosecutor had claimed that  Duru and others conspired and committed the offences on January 11, 2017, when they, in company of “other suspects still at large’’, invaded the head office of the FGPL with intent to forcefully take over the management and assets of the pension fund administrator.

They were also alleged to have carted away some valuables belongings to the company.

The magistrate had granted the accused bail in the sum of N500, 000 each with one surety each in like sum and adjourned the case to March 9, 2017 for trial proper.

Duru was arrested and detained by the police on January 13, 2017 for the alleged offences.

In the new petition against the ex-lawmaker, the aggrieved shareholders of FGPL accused him of diverting millions of naira and the property of the pension firm for personal use against the law and code of governance of the company.

Duru’s probem with FGPL started some years ago, when the National Pension Commission (PenCom) took certain regulatory measures on FGPL, as a result of its findings of the various routine and special examinations undertaken by PenCom on the PFA in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The examinations revealed persistent breaches and flawed corporate governance practices.

According to the petition, “The report of the special examination carried out in March 2011, among other things, allegedly indicted Chief Orlando 0. Ojo, the erstwhile Chairman of the PFA; Chidi Duru, the erstwhile Vice Chairman of FGPL, and Mr. Derrick Roper, an erstwhile director of the company–representing the interest of Novare Holdings (Pty) Ltd of South Africa, for violations of the Code of Ethics and Business Practices, the Code of Corporate Governance for Licensed Operators issued by PenCom, the provisions of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2004 (which was in force at that time) and other laws of the land.

“In view of the grave implications of the above infractions and in order to protect the pension assets, which currently worth over N160 billion being managed by the PFA on behalf of over 160,000 Retirement Savings Account holders, PenCom took regulatory actions on the three indicted directors by removing them from the Board of the PFA pursuant to the provision of Section 88(2) of the PRA 2004,’’ the petition stated.

‘’Furthermore, pursuant to Sections 20(i) and 21(j) of the PRA 2004 and Framework for the Resolution of Failing Operators, PenCom set-up an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to superintend over the affairs of the PFA until the shareholders convene an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) and re-constitute the PFA’s Board.’’

The content of the petition further revealed that as at today, several cases instituted following—-the intervention in FGPL are still pending before different courts of law, and following this the shareholders of FGPL have not been able to reconstitute the PFA’s Board.

The Comrade Isa Aremu-led interim management committee set-up by PenCom still remains in charge of the management of the FGPL, and there appears to be a deadlock regarding the resolution of the disputes among the shareholders, and between a category of the shareholders and PenCom for now.

The petition further added, ‘’Arising from the regulatory intervention in FGPL, different suits are currently pending before the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal respectively: an appeal filed by PenCom before the Court of Appeal against the judgement of the Federal High Court (FHC) in Derrick Roper & Anor Vs. National Pension Commission & Anor.

It was learnt that a case instituted by some shareholders of FGPL led by Alhaji Kashim Imam, against other shareholders of the PFA and the Commission seeking an order to compel the commission to implement the report of the special examination of First Guarantee Pension Limited, is also pending in court.

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