Mrs Maimuna Chionuma, a counsel for Union Homes Savings and Loans PLC, has revealed how Aso Savings and Loans PLC along with some officials allegedly diverted N2.5 billion judgement debt of the firm.
Chionuma, who disclosed this in petitions sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police Force, said that N2.5 billion was judgement debt paid by the Lagos State Government as compensation to Union Homes Plc, Searaq Nigeria Ltd and the Abule Ado Plumbing Materials Association.
Speaking to SaharaReporters concerning the development, Chionuma, Secretary of Union Homes Savings and Loans, said she wrote the petitions following threats to her life for refusing to accede to the transaction.
It was gathered that Chionuma was relieved of her appointment with Union Homes and Loans because of her insistence that due process should be followed in order to save the firm and officials from being prosecuted for money laundering.
However, in the petition, Kukei Umoye, counsel for Chionuma, averred, “We write, as a matter of urgency, to bring to your attention the risks to our client’s life and the nefarious activities of the above-mentioned individuals who have constituted themselves into a cabal that has continuously defrauded Union Homes of her money and assets, particularly the latest theft of N2.5 billion which is a proceed of litigation at the Lagos State High Court between Union Homes and others against Lagos State wherein the court advised parties to settle and subsequently granted a court-ordered judgement. The court ordered that the money be paid into a specific account with further orders.
“Without recourse to Union Homes, the above-mentioned persons diverted and converted the money to an account unknown to Union Homes.
“The risk to our client is on account of her refusal as Company Secretary/Head, Legal, Union Homes Savings and Loans Plc (hereinafter referred to as ‘UH’) to aid and abet fraud, money laundering, diversion, and conversion of N2.5billion Lagos State Compensation, due in part to ‘UH’, by the above persons.”
It was learnt that Aso Savings and Loans and Union Homes worked on a merger with Aso Savings Plc as the senior partner. However, the merger is yet to be concluded.
It was also learnt that Aso Savings had refused to take responsibility for Union Homes’ liabilities in court cases filed by Union Homes’ depositors.
Speaking further, Chionuma’s lawyer, Umoye said, “The Lagos State Government paid the fee as a court-ordered agreement following the settlement of the cases filed by Union Homes Ltd, Agric Coker Building & Plumbing Materials Dealers Association, Agric Coker Building Materials Dealers, and Seraq Limited.
“The offence was the demolition of shops to expand the Badagry Expressway. Union Homes funded the associations to build the shops.
“The handling solicitors filed a letter to the Attorney General of Lagos State querying the payment that left out Searaq Nigeria Limited and the Abule Ado plumbing materials association.”
He noted that the solicitors stated;
“It was shocking to learn that N1bn was paid to a non-party, Aso Savings and Loans Plc, on December 30, 2022 as compensation in full and final settlement of Suit BD/20/2013. This payment only came to light when Lands Bureau officials requested that we invite officers of Aso Savings & Loans Plc, a non-party, to sign a bond/indemnity for sums received.”
He added that the Lagos State Government further paid N1.5 billion on January 25, 2023 to Aso Savings and Loans Plc to settle suit ID/113000LMW/2022 despite instructions to the contrary.
According to him, the handling solicitors stated, “From the receipt of payment, Aso Savings and Loans Plc had falsely held itself out as the financier of the demolished development and a party to the above action.
“Though we are aware that our client has been in the process of merging with Aso Savings and Loans Plc, they remain unknown to us as a party in this action or, indeed, a party to the settlement. Any payment to Aso Savings and Loans Plc, a non-party to the above suit, would be illegal.”
Meanwhile, according to documents obtained by SaharaReporters, the handling solicitors also wrote to Union Homes concerning the development, the Chief Operating Officer, Femi Adewoye, who is also a senior official at Aso Savings, responded on behalf of Union Homes on February 16, 2023.
Adewoye confirmed receipt of the total sum of N2.5 billion as compensation paid by the Lagos State Government, and further instructed the handling solicitors to “kindly proceed to enter terms of settlement to conclude the matter effectively”.
However, instead of concluding the matter, Mrs Chionuma said officials of Aso Savings and Loans Plc sought to blackmail her into acknowledging receipt of the N2.5 billion which was not received by Union Homes.
She said, “My appointment at Union Homes was then terminated, while I was severely warned against speaking out, followed by a petition against me to the Department of State Security, Abuja, and an invitation by the NPF, Zone 7, Abuja, alleging that I threatened the lives of Aso Savings officials.
“Aso Savings officials also boasted to me in private that they know relevant officials and authorities everywhere in Abuja.
“However, I responded to the petition and visited the DSS and the Force Headquarters, and I told them my side of the story, and I was discharged.”
The Managing Director, Aso Savings, Mrs Risikat Ahmed, did not respond to phone calls or text messages from our correspondent, concerning the development.
However, when contacted, a senior official at Aso Savings and COO, Union Homes, Femi Adewoye, who confirmed receipt of the N2.5 billion, said the allegations were not entirely true, adding that Aso Savings will respond accordingly.
Adewoye said, “I will not be able to respond to this because the information you have may not be entirely true, but definitely the organization will respond to this accordingly.
“I’m not in position to say anything about that, I cannot be discussing this on the phone.”
He further alleged that Union Homes had been acquired by Aso Savings, contrary to documents showing that the merger was yet to be concluded due to the inability of Aso Savings to provide a sum of N5 billion required of them by the CBN to effect a merger.
Adewole added, “Union Homes was acquired by Aso, that’s the first thing to note. Aso acquired Union Homes and everything that has to do with Union Homes is under that. Response will be given accordingly in respect to this.”