DATED JANUARY 28, 2019
1.01. I hereby thank the Elders of the Branch for the opportunity to respond to the Report of the Committee of the Branch on Insurance. I wish to state here that there was no deliberate attempt on my part not to appear before the committee but for the conduct of the Committee which I considered odious.
It is my submission that the Committee, which ought to be a neutral body should have started its assignment from my Executive which was directly covered by its Terms of Reference or at least interface with my Executive before coming up with a damming report against me or my Executive without the benefit of being heard.
The Committe betrayed its neutrality and exhibited lack of fair hearing when on November 5, 2018 it presented a Report indicting my Executive without any interface with me or any of the Executive members in anyway whatsoever. It should be noted that the Report presented by the Committee to the entire house on November 5, 2018 was never an Interim Report as being claimed by the Committee. Apart from the fact that it was not titled so, the Committee arrived at conclusions in the Report.
1.02. It was about 24 days after the presentation of the Report of the Committee on November 5, 2018 that I was ever invited. I therefore on the betrayal of neutrality and lack of fair hearing on the part of the Committee declined the invitation and my reasons were clearly stated in my letter to the Committee dated January 17, 2019. An acknowledged copy of the letter is hereby attached as “Annexure A”. My reasons for declining the invitation and the allegation I leveled against the Committee was never denied in anyway whatsoever by the Committee. This said, I hereby give my specific response to the Report.
2.01. In response to paragraph 2.4 of the Report of the Committee as regards its status, I hereby state with respect that the Report presented at the November 5, 2018 meeting of the Branch was not an Interim Report as being claimed by the Committee. In the first instance, it was not so titled. Secondly, it indicted my Executive without any attempt to previously hear our own side of the story. It finally made far reaching recommendations and conclusion. The Report was not debated on the day it was presented because Gabriel Opayinka Esq, the Legal Adviser of the Branch strongly agitated that the Report did not cover the expectation of why it was set up. This was after the Chairman, Dele Oloke Esq, who was surprised at the Report made a shocking remark that: Is this your final report? I raised my hand severally to make comment but the Chairman, Dele Oloke Esq never recognized me. It was thus stepped down for discussion at next monthly meeting.
2.02. In response to paragraph 2.5 of the Report regarding the invitations sent to the past Chairmen of the Branch particularly me, I state that the invitation was an afterthought and made in bad faith contrary to the Terms of Reference of the Committee. Firstly, the invitation sent to me dated November 28, 2018 was about 24 days after a Report was presented to the house on November 5, 2018 in which my Executive was indicted. Again, the invitations were not extended to all the past Chairmen that could have had anything doing with the Insurance Policy of the Branch as claimed by the Committee – no invitation was extended to Niyi Idowu Esq who took over from Adekunle Ojo Esq and Adebamigbe Omole Esq who took over from Dave Ajetomobi Esq. These two Chairmen were also involved in the Insurance Policy of the Branch, particularly Adebamigbe Omole Esq. More fundamental, the Terms of Reference of the Committee only covered July, 2014 – June, 2018. Any invitation to any Chairman outside that period was done in bad faith by the Committee contrary to its Terms of Reference.
2.03. Contrary to paragraph 2.6 of the Report on why I made a request for a copy of the Report presented on November 5, 2018 I never requested for the Report for the purpose of acceding to meet with the Committee. My responses to the Committee’s letters of November 28 and December 4, 2018 are so explicit on my thoughts. Acknowledged copies of my letters dated November 30 and December 10, 2018 respectively are hereby attached as “Annexure “B” and “C”.
2.04. The information in paragraph 3.1 of the Report to the effect that there was a dedicated Insurance Account from inception and that all money therein were for insurance premium payment only was not correct. While it was correct that premium was paid to the Insurance Company, it is not correct that there was an initially dedicated Insurance Account from where the premium was being paid and it is also not correct that all the money in the account was mandatorily, entirely and solely meant for premium payment. The claim of the Committee and the alleged testimony of Dave Ajetomobi Esq tothat effectwere very wrong and misleading. In fact, the Executive of Dave Ajetomobi Esq paid the insurance premium variously from Wema Bank, Zenith Bank and Skye Bank accounts. Copies of the issued receipts to his Executive and letter written by the Executive indicating where the insurance premium was paid from are hereby attached as “Annexure “D”, “E” and “F” respectively.
2.05. The Committee was also wrong in claiming that Adekunle Ojo Esq was succeeded in office by Dave Ajetomobi Esq or that Monday Ubani Esq took over from Dave Ajetomobi Esq, because it was Niyi Idowu Esq who succeeded Adekunle Ojo Esq while Monday Ubani took over from Adebamigbe Omole Esq.
2.06. It is on record, and I stand to be contradicted that part of the money in the Insurance Account could be used and are being used for some other activities of Branch depending on circumstances. The Insurance subscriptions in the account have always been in surplus of funds right from inception. This is always so because while a member pays N5,000.00 subscription fee, the premium to the insurance company while using LASACO, has always been N4,730.00. Invariably, the Branch has always been making the sum of N270.00 as commission payable to the collecting agent, and this has run to millions of naira for the Branch from where the Branch takes to meet its other financial obligations in other areas. The Executives before mine withdraw part of this commission fees to meet some of the Branch’s obligations. The statements of the past accounts should be examined to verify this claim. As at the time my Executive took office, the remainder of the commission fees in the later dedicated Insurance Account was about N3,000,000.00 and my Executive left about N14,000,000.00 at the time our Executive was leaving office in June, 2016.
2.07. Equally, there was never a policy whatsoever to either reduce the premium or increase the amount of claim payable as allegedly testified before the Committee by Mr. Ibhafidon Ahamiojie. Under LASACO, the premium has always been N4,730.00 and the payable claim has unchangeably been N1,000,000.00 for death or permanent disability and N100,000.00 for medical.
2.08. In response to paragraph 3.3 of the Report to the effect that payment of the insurance premium was made to two different companies, I hereby state that the payments were as advised by the company’s representative and the two companies are under the same group. It was however made clear that they are sister companies as confirmed by the representative of the Insurance Company to the Committee.
2.09. In further response to paragraph 3.3 of the Report to the extent that there was no cover between April 1 and August 16, 2016, I wish to state that there was a cover. The then Staff Secretary, Miss Nkiruka Ujoke compiled the names of those who paid the insurance subscriptions and cheque was immediately issued for the calculated premium and handed over to the Insurance Company representative. It should however be noted that the compilation used take time to accomplish for some obvious reasons. The period was the climax of the rush for NBA stamps which applications always overwhelmed the staff, and those who applied always wanted their stamps delivered immediately after dropping their application forms. There is therefore the compilation of those who registered for the NBA stamps and those who subscribed for the insurance and these two assignments were done by the same officer, Miss. Ujoke. In the instance at hand, Miss. Ujoke did her compilation of names of those who subscribed for the insurance and the company computed the payment of the premium to be N5,200,650.00. We duly issued a cheque in that regard and handed it over to the representative of the company. Thereafter, I subsequently travelled out of the country. I was surprised when later the company’s representative called me that there was an error on the cheque which though the Treasurer had corrected but requiring me to countersign. He then promised to courier it to me. The courier was delayed and before the document could arrive where I travelled to, I was already back in the country. The correction was subsequently effected. The cheque stub could be looked at and the representative of the Insurance Company could be contacted for the confirmation of this claim. This is information I would have given to the Committee and the Insurance Company could have been confronted with it if the Committee has done the proper thing by starting its assignment in house.
2.11. Contrary to the paragraph 3.6 of the Report that my Executive transferred the Insurance Account to Skye Bank Plc from UBA Plc, my Executive inherited the Skye Bank Plc as the holder of our Insurance Account and we maintained same all through our regime. Thus, the claim that my Executive changed it from UBA Plc to Skye Bank Plc was totally false and misleading. As earlier observed in paragraph 2.04 above, the insurance premium had been paid from various accounts of the Branch in the past. Evidence of payment from Skye Bank account by our two predecessors in office is hereby attached as “Annexure “G” and “H” respectively. I therefore state that Skye Bank Plc had been used by all successive Administrations before mine contrary to the claim of the Committee in its Report. My Administration however strictly tagged and adhered to Skye Bank Plc as Insurance Account.
2.12. In reaction to paragraph 3.7 of the Report to the effect that there was no cover between June, 2014 and August, 2015, I hereby state that it is not correct that there was no cover between the periods. In December, 2014, we lost a member, one Egwuekwu Williams and upon our application, the Insurance Company paid the widow, Ogechukwu Williams the sum of N1,000,000.00. The cheque was initially issued in February, 2015 but revalidated in October, 2015 when the widow did not show up on time to collect it. The cheque was later handed over to the widow at our monthly meeting where the widow came with her three children and this was published in “The Ikeja Bar Newsletter”, December 2015 Edition. It should be noted that it was highly rumoured that the Insurance Company did not pay any money but that we issued the cheque from our account as there was no Insurance cover in existence. I was therefore not surprised that the Committee equally came to the wrong and mischievous conclusion. Copies of the letter with which the attached cheque was initially sent; the revalidation letter, the cheque in favour of the widow; the I.D card of the deceased and copy of the page of the Ikeja Bar Newsletter are hereby attached as “Annexure “I”, “J”, “K” “L” and “M” respectively.
2.13. As for Mrs. Nwakarlor Eugenia Ifeyinwa, her application was submitted and when the son called me, I explained to him that the Branch will need the deceased’s Branch I.D. card to process the application further. The Branch I.D. card is rigidly tied to the insurance claim and must be part of the documents to be submitted to claim from the Insurance Company. He promised to get back to me but I never heard from him till I left office in June, 2016.
2.14. For Mr. Chigoziem Theola Onyeneke, even though his demise happened after I left office, I recollect that apart from the meeting between the then Chairman, Adesina Ogunlana Esq, Dan Okoye Esq, Chigozie Aguacha Esq and myself on the matter, the then Chairman and I equally met with the representative of the Insurance Company and an application was made to the Insurance Company for the claim by the Chairman on the advice of the representative of the Insurance Company. I am not aware that the Insurance Company has responded to the letter. A follow up will be necessary and issues could be resolved afterward. A copy of the said application letter written by the then Chairman, Adesina Ogunlana Esq is hereby attached as “Annexure “N”.
2.15. Mr. Faniran never applied for insurance claim while I was in office as Chairman and I was not aware of his application at all. I was however very much aware that he did apply for insurance at the National NBA and I did my best to give him all necessary needed support and assistance. From the Report however, I believe the case of Mr. Faniran was similar to that of Mr. Onyeneke above and could be given the same treatment.
2.16. As regard the sum of N500,000.00 to Tope Alabi Esq, this issue was well debated and resolved at our general meeting where the Audited Account for the year ending May, 2016 was adopted and passed. It is therefore surprising to me for the Committee in its Report to claim ignorance of this notorious fact. At that meeting, I made it clear that Tope Alabi Esq applied to us for financial assistance to enable him have a heart operation in India for his newly born child. We obliged but to make it a loan and promised to mobilize members to further come to his aid. At that time, he needed well over N5,000,000.00 to carry out the operation and to my knowledge some notable individual members of the Branch even came to his aid. It should also be noted that the money was not taken from the premium sum meant to be paid to the Insurance Company, but from the commission fees accruing to the account. It should be noted however and I am aware of this fact that Tope Alabi Esq has since written the Branch through Dele Oloke Esq, the incumbent Chairman in respect of this money and one would have ordinarily expected that the Chairman should have passed the information to the Committee.
2.17. The sum of N100,000.00 given to Nusirat Giwa Esq referred to in paragraph 4.1(m) of the Report was money contributed at a monthly meeting to assist her in the payment of her hospital bills at LASUTH where she was then undergoing treatment. The contribution was paid into the account and the Branch added some amount to make it N100,000.00 which was given to her. She could be contacted for clarification.
2.18. As for the Policy Paper referred to in paragraph 4.1(n) of the Report, it has since been handed over to my successor in office and this much I said in my letter of January 17, 2019 to the Committee attached to this response as “Annexure “A”.
SALIENT POINTS TO TAKE NOTE OF:
3.01. When my Executive came on board, we realized that we have been paying premium to LASACO for years without claim and we felt we should renegotiate the terms with the view of having more benefits to our members. We therefore did a letter to LASACO asking, among other things, for a meeting to discuss the policy. A copy of the letter is hereby attached as “Annexure “O”. The company did not turn up for the proposed meeting thus we turned our searchlight to other Insurance Companies among which we eventually picked Royal Exchange Prudential Life.
3.02. The Royal Exchange offered us better deals compared to what we had under LASACO. With the same amount of N5,000.00 premium, the death benefit rose to N2,000,000.00 as against N1,000,000.00 under LASACO; permanent disability became N1,000,000.00 and medical rose to N200,000.00 as against N100,000.00 under LASACO. In addition, the premium payable to the Insurance Company reduced to N4,550.00 per head as against N4,730.00 under LASACO wherein the Branch’s commission fee as the collecting agent rose to N450.00 as against N270.00 under LASACO.
3.03. Contrary to the assertion of the Committee in the Report, there is no extant law, mandate, rule or resolution whatsoever that all the money standing in the Insurance Account should only be used for the insurance premium alone. The Insurance money and/or account has always been in excess right from inception and successive Administrations have always been using part of the surplus to meet up with the Branch’s programmes or attend to the welfare of members which is one of the cardinal aims of our Branch.
3.04. There is no definite time for subscription to the Insurance Policy of the Branch as names are always sent as members paid, which became swollen particularly since the stamp regime started. Invariably, reasonable numbers of subscribers have to be gathered before the names could be sent to the Insurance Company.
3.05. It was later discovered that in between the compilation of names by the Branch’s Secretary and the Insurance Company, there could be either omission of names or repetition of names. A careful perusal of the list has revealed this and this is an issue that could be talked over between us and the Insurance Company.
3.06. All through my regime, all insurance subscriptions were paid directly into the bank and all expenses on the account have all been through issuance of cheques that could be traced and verified through the statement of account.
3.07. The major issue with the Insurance Policy is that some of our members, including a past Chairman, Monday Ubani Esq embarked on damaging campaign on a closed and selected whatsapp platform tagged NBAIkeja administered by Muna Esiegene Esq that there was no Insurance Policy during my tenure and that the insurance money was food for the Executive. As a result of this false, wrong and malicious information, some members were meeting with the Insurance Company for information instead of meeting with the leadership of the Branch; and being individuals, the Insurance Company was not willing to divulge information to them. By the nature of the policy, it is the leadership of the Branch that is in the best position to deal with the Insurance Company and not individual members. This is so because some strict terms and conditions attached to the Insurance Policy of our kind