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Heritage Bank, Arthur Eze, And The Andy Uba Debts’ Saga



Andy Uba Heritage Bank

Nigeria’s social media channels were on Wednesday, August 24, 2022 saturated with the news that Anambra born billionaire, Prince Arthur Eze had through his company, Oranto Petroleum impounded some state of the art vehicles from the Asokoro, Abuja residence of Dr Andy Uba, the former governor of Anambra State arising from the alleged failure of Uba to settle an alleged N50 debt.

Andy Uba has the pitiful legacy of being the governor of with the shortest duration in office in Nigeria. He held office as governor for 17 days between May 29 and June 14, 2007.

However, his ascent to political fame arose when he served as Special Assistant on Domestic and Household Matters to President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and when he ran for office as governor of Anambra State. In that period, Dr Andy as he was popularly known was believed to have been one of the most influential persons in that era.

Following his sack as governor he was able to get back to reckoning as a senator and served for two terms in the Senate.

Another bid by him to return as governor of Anambra State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC failed in 2021 when he lost to the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA candidate of Prof Chukwuma Soludo.

For a man famed for the depth of his political network, one fact that appears to be now ensnaring him are the cases of debt that appear to be hanging on him from time to time, embarrassing his shine-shine image.

Before the news of his latest pitch with Prince Arthur Eze, he had in 2012 been pitched with Prince Eze over two Enugu landed properties which Eze sought to recover as part of a debt owed him by one Major Okwuosa. Senator Uba had in the midst of the process surfaced claiming ownership of the properties which were, however, registered in the name of Okwuosa.

GWG cannot confirm how the case ended until the latest case between the two powerful Anambarians.

In the latest case, Prince Arthur Eze was said to have given Andy Uba an interest free loan of N50m through his company, Oranto Petroleum Limited. An Anambra High Court had in 2017 ruled in favour of Eze given the fact that Uba did not challenge the debt claim in court.

The judgment had laid fallow until recently when Oranto Petroleum secured the ex parte order of an Abuja High Court to enforce the judgment of 2017.

The Punch which broke the story on Wednesday in its report affirmed that officials of the Execution Unit of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja, working with officers of the Nigeria Police Force, on Tuesday, August 23, seized the vehicles over the unsettled loan.

However, before Prince Eze, Senator (Dr) Andy Uba had been brought to public light by the face off with Heritage Bank over an alleged loan. Demonstrators who claimed to be staff of the Abuja branch of the bank mounted a demonstration in front of Uba’s residence to demand that he should pay back an unstated loan obtained from the bank. The demonstrations, remarkably happened in June 2021, months before the election in which Uba was standing as a candidate on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

There were insinuations that the demonstration was staged to thwart his chances but that was never proved. There was no evidence of a political motif despite the fact that the bank is believed to be controlled by the Sekibos, a politically exposed family with deep roots in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

What was particularly interesting to some observers at that time was why the bank resorted to staging a demonstration to demand a loan bringing to question whether the bank did not secure the loan it supposedly granted Dr Uba.

The unorthodox approach of Heritage Bank sources disclosed was frowned at by regulatory authorities. Even more the amount of the loan was never made public and there were wide guesses from N10 million to N10 billion.

However, the example of Prince Eze in going through the judicial corridor to demand the repayment of a loan granted Uba is now being commended to Heritage and to some other institutions including loan sharks which have had the practice of embarrassing their debtors through shaming.

In the case of Heritage Bank and Dr Uba, a leading political actor, Dan Nwanyanwu, a former banker and chairman of Zenith Labour Party insinuated ulterior motives in the face off between both parties.

Nwanyanwu was quoted by the Daily Independent to have passed his judgment on the Hertiage Bank – Andy Uba face as an abuse of the fiduciary relationship between the bank and its customer.

“The act of the Heritage Bank and their staffers is grossly irresponsible and against the ethics and ethos of the banking profession,” Nwanyanwu said.

“What happened between Senator Andy Uba and the Heritage Bank was a business relationship clothed with fiduciary, understanding which is not for public drama. By the action of Heritage Bank, they have acted in an ignominuous manner as paid hirelings out to embarrass and disgrace Senator Andy Uba in order to satisfy their paid masters rather than a genuine attempt to recover the so-called debt. No responsible bank or its officials anywhere in the world will act in that manner.

“As a banker of many years, I know that banks don’t recover their debt through a public show, rather there are procedures and mechanisms available to any bank to recover any debt owned by a customer that is getting difficult to be repaid. I don’t know when it has become a crime for individual and business concerns to borrow from a bank. Most business concerns run their businesses with some facilities from banks in a fiduciary relationship and it is never a crime. Is Nigeria not owing?”

Meanwhile, with the lesson from Prince Arthur Eze in seeking the judicial route in recovering her funds it is envisaged that banks, loan sharks so called would follow the rule of law in their operations and engagements with their customers.

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