Change of Baton: Confusion in First Bank

There is a palpable air of confusion among the stakeholders of First Bank group over the query from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the board of First Bank Nigeria Limited over the announced removal of the Managing Director/Chief Executive of the bank, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, saying the action was without regulatory approval.
But speaking with the Century Post, the National Co-ordinator of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Dr Anthony Omojola, said that what happened at the bank was that the tenure of the incumbent ended and the most senior manager had to step into the gap.
According to him, perhaps, the news over the development was picked up by the madia before the board could do the needful by informing the regulator, saying that the new man is an experienced banker who has serve with the out-going CEO over the last couple of years.
The Central Bank however stated in its letter dated April 28, 2021, signed by its Director, Banking Supervision, Mr. Haruna Mustafa, to the bank’s Chairman, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, a copy of which was obtained by this newspaper. The apex bank said that the action of the board is a controvension of its standard practice.
CBN also demanded a comprehensive response on the matter from Awosika to be delivered to the banking sector regulator latest 5pm Thursday.

The Board of Directors of First Bank had earlier on Wednesday announced the appointment of Mr. Gbenga Shobo as the new Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO). But the CBN says it was not “aware of any report from the board indicting the Managing Director of any wrong-doing or misconduct; there appears to be no apparent justification for the precipitate removal.

“We are particularly concerned because the action is coming at a time the CBN has provided various regulatory forbearances and liquidity support to reposition the bank, which has enhanced its asset quality, capital adequacy and liquidity ratios amongst other prudential indicators.

“It is also curious to observe that the sudden removal of the MD/CEO was done about eight months to the expiry of his second tenure, which is due on December 31, 2021.”

“In light of the foregoing, you are required to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against the Board for hastily removing the MD/CEO and failing to give prior notice to the CBN before announcing the management change in the media.”

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