Official Rejoinder: Guinness Record Fight: Nexim Bank Frustrates my Ambition, says Bash Ali
The above refers.
The attention of the Board, Management and staff of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) have been drawn to recent publications in some national dailies, notably Leadership Newspaper of Tuesday 21st October, 2014 at page 54; Nigerian Pilot Newspaper of Monday 20th October, 2014 at page 55 and The Nation Newspaper of Monday 20th October 2014 at page 53, Leadership Newspaper of Wednesday 23rd October, 2014 at page 52 respectively.
1. The said publications came under different captions as ‘’Bash Ali to Jonathan: save my vision’’; ‘’Why my Guinness World Record fight is stalled’’; and the loudest being ‘’Guinness Record Fight: Nexim Bank Frustrates my Ambition, says Bash Ali.’’ Ordinarily, NEXIM Bank would have ignored the content of the said publications considering the source of the news, Bash Ali, but for the need to set the records straight and correct the negative and misleading impressions.
2. It is recalled that a letter dated 19th December 2013, titled, “APPOINTMENT INTO THE LOCAL ORGANISING COMMITTEE OF BASH ALI’S WORLD GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORD FIGHT PROJECT”, purportedly signed by Dr. Bolaji Ojo-Ojoba for the then Chairman of the National Sports Commission and Minister of Sports was sent to NEXIM Bank requesting its membership in a Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the boxing tournament. Under Paragraph 2 of the letter, it was categorically and specifically stated that, “The Commission has fully identified with this course (sic) and felt that it should be a private organisation driven project with Government providing enabling environment.
3. As a responsible corporate citizen and under its corporate social responsibility tenets, the Bank accepted the nomination and on 7th January 2014 sent a representative to the inaugural meeting of the LOC which was made up of Private and Public Sector Agencies and Organisations. Unbeknownst to the Bank, Bash Ali had previously turned himself into a national nuisance and embarrassment by laying siege at the Police Headquarters and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) national secretariat in Abuja at various times.
4. Soon after the inaugural meeting, Bash Ali and his cohorts began sending very uncomplimentary text messages to the Executive Management and making incessant demands for an immediate release of a $1,000,000.00 [one million dollars] to him personally as mandatory payment for the boxing competition. According to Bash Ali, Mr President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR had ‘directed’ the Bank to release the said sum to him personally, even though the Bank severally demanded for a copy of the purported Presidential directive which he was never able to produce.
5. It is instructive to state that NEXIM Bank is the Trade Policy Bank of Nigeria. It is owned wholly by the Government and reports to its two Shareholders, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoFI) with the lawful mandate to promote and provide credit facilities and guarantees to export-oriented investors in the non-oil sectors of Manufacturing, Agro-processing, Solid Minerals, and Services. Pursuant to this mandate, NEXIM Bank does not finance boxing or other sports competitions.
6. The Bank repeatedly made its position known to Bash Ali that in line with its mandate, NEXIM does not FINANCE sports activities. Notwithstanding this explanation, Bash Ali did not relent but decided to adopt every means to extort the $1, 000,000. 00 from the Bank. These means included, but were not restricted to continual verbal abuses, plethora of slanderous and malicious phone calls and text messages to senior officers of the Bank, barricade of the access road to the Bank’s Head office at the Central Business District at various times, harassments, etc. Specifically, on 6th May, 2014, which was the eve of the World Economic Forum for Africa (WEFA) held in Abuja from 7 – 9th of May 2014, Bash Ali laid siege at the Bank’s premises in company of some vicious thugs and rough heads, and numerous pressmen and blocked the access road to the Bank. For NEXIM, as the Trade Policy Bank of the nation, the timing of this particular barricade was most painful and embarrassing as it prevented our counterparts from other Export Credit Agencies (ECAs who were in Abuja for the WEFA from accessing the Bank’s premises. This was clearly a deliberate act of economic sabotage embarked upon by Bash Ali as the Bank was prevented from holding all the prearranged meetings centred on attracting investment capital into the Nigerian economy.
7. The critical question and general concern have remained why Bash Ali would choose to picket and blackmail NEXIM out of the numerous other members of the LOC, which include, but not limited to “…a representative of Chief of Staff to Mr President, a representative of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, a representative of Glo Nigeria Limited, a representative of Bank of Industry, a representative of Peugeot Automobiles Nigeria, a representative of the National Sports Commission, a representative of African Independent Television, a representative of Nigerian Television Authority, a representative of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, a representative of Bash Ali Boxing Project, a representative of Nigerian Boxing Board of Control, a Secretary and Assistant to be nominated by the LOC.”
8. Without abatement, for months on end, Bash Ali continued barricading the access road to the Bank, refusing both staff n, clients, customers as well as other occupants of the building to enter the premises at any time of his choosing. This was without any regard that such acts of impunity could easily compromise the personal security of the Bank, its staff, its tenants which include a commercial bank amongst others; and most of all that he was deliberately costing the Bank its business when he avowed that his mission was to bring the Bank and its business down.
9. NEXIM, being a very responsible corporate citizen, lodged formal complaints with all the relevant security agencies. Despite the intervention of the security agencies at various times, Bash Ali’s did not refrain from his obnoxious and reprehensible conducts. Rather he became even more emboldened, and most brazenly, continued his onslaught against the Bank often with a pre-arranged media presence; continued with his midnight/early morning phone calls and sending of very uncomplimentary messages to top Management Staff, including the Managing Director. This trend continued till Wednesday, October 8, 2014, when he once again arrived the premises of the Bank with his thugs and pressmen and used a truck to block the single entrance to the Bank and completely prevented movement in or out of NEXIM premises causing a heavy traffic jam on the way intersecting the access road. This warranted the direct intervention of the Police to curb the public nuisance and the commotion emanating therefrom. Bash Ali was then arrested and charged to Court by the Police on Thursday, October 9, 2014 where he was subsequently admitted to bail but with a stern warning against further acts of harassment and intimidation of NEXIM Bank and Staff. Presently, the matter is at the Senior Magistrates’ Court, in Abuja.
10. We hereby categorically state that there is no iota of truth whatsoever in all the allegations levelled against the Bank by Bash Ali; these allegations are spurious and are merely designed to serve a singular purpose, namely to distort the facts and cast the Bank and its Management in a very bad light, disrupt its business, and by extension embarrass the country and cast it in a negative light internationally.
11. While we challenge Bash Ali to provide public evidence of the ‘’official’’ who made such a demand on him, we urge our stakeholders and the general public to ignore these baseless allegations as lacking in substance and proof, even as we call on the relevant agencies to investigate Bash Ali for his unpatriotic acts in levelling such weighty, reckless and costly allegations against the Trade Policy Bank of Nigeria and for maligning the name of Mr. President.
12. In the absence of such concrete evidence and proof, we will instruct our lawyers to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion through the judicial process.
MANAGEMENT: NIGERIAN EXPORT-IMPORT BANKSunday, October 26, 2014