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Nigeria’s Rampant Banditry and Some Ideas On How to Rein It in

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Gusau — ‘The problem is that the peace deals negotiated so far are badly flawed and amateurishly executed.’

They are known simply as “bandits” – heavily armed criminal gangs that have terrorised Nigeria’s rural northwest, killing, kidnapping, forcing people from their homes, and taunting the authorities with their brazenness.

The violence typically involves scores of gunmen on motorbikes sweeping into villages, shooting all the young men they can find on the assumption they belong to local vigilantes, and then carting away livestock and anything else of value.

The raids are increasingly daring. In the last few months, bandits have downed an air force jet; attacked the military’s officer training school; struck a prestige commuter rail service running between the capital, Abuja, and the city of Kaduna; and kidnapped students for ransom from schools and colleges so many times that education is now in peril.

And although bandits aren’t natural ideological bedfellows for jihadist movements, there’s also a persistent fear that al-Qaeda-linked Ansaru and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) – the country’s largest extremist group after splitting from Boko Haram – are recruiting among them to expand their influence across the entire north.

Zamfara, one of Nigeria’s poorest states, is at the centre of the banditry. It tops the country’s league table of violent deaths, with 495 reported killings between July and October. That’s far more fatalities than northeastern Borno – where ISWAP and Boko Haram operate.

The insecurity has triggered a food emergency across the northwest, with over 450,000 people fleeing farms and rural markets. The US government’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network, known as FEWS NET, has predicted “catastrophe” levels of hunger in parts of the region – which means famine for some households.

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The following outlines what’s gone wrong in the ongoing attempts to resolve the expanding crisis, and offers some recommendations on a way forward.

The failed military response

Roughly 10 military operations have been launched against banditry in the northwest so far, but they have failed to make a dent in the insecurity. The mobile gangs take advantage of a forested, sparsely populated region, and when attacked, simply move elsewhere.

The security stick doesn’t address the root causes of the violence. Land disputes are a key issue: Expanding farms have encroached on the routes and cattle reserves used by pastoralists, resulting in friction – on both sides – when fields are trampled. Local authorities are seen to have failed to fairly adjudicate these conflicts.

Nigeria is also under-policed, so farmers turned to vigilantes – known as Yan Sakai – for protection. But the Yan Sakai have been indiscriminate in their retaliatory violence. Although the bandits do recruit from among pastoralists, the vigilantes’ response has been to target all herder communities, regardless of culpability.

The pastoralists have responded with their own, forest-based – and better-armed – self-defence groups, which over time have become almost indistinguishable from the original bandits.

What’s to be done?

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To try and stem the spreading chaos, some state governments have turned to peace deals to essentially buy off the gunmen. The model is the oil-rich Niger Delta from a decade ago, where militants protesting the government’s exploitation of the area accepted amnesty deals and development programmes to end attacks on oil facilities.

But that approach has had mixed results in the lawless northwest. Zamfara introduced an amnesty and a cash for guns scheme in 2016. Initially, it seemed to work, but it fell apart two years later with the death of warlord Buharin Daji, the lynchpin of the deal.

Zamfara tried again in 2020. This time, the new governor, Bello Matawalle, offered cows in return for guns (to avoid monetising the violence). He also ordered the disarmament of the Yan Sakai, and pledged to construct Rural Grazing Areas – settlements with dams and veterinary services set aside for pastoralists. But the attacks continued, and Matawalle made a U-turn in September, cancelling further dialogue.

A new military offensive was launched in Zamfara in September, combined with a telecommunications blackout, and bans on the sale of fuel in jerry cans to try to blunt the bandits’ mobility. But the measures have simply pushed the bandits into neighbouring states.

It has been the same story in Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, with peace deals never properly sticking. Yet pastoralists in both Zamfara and Katsina also point out that governments have failed to deliver on the development promises they made.

Some states, led by Kaduna and Niger, have taken a far harder line by refusing to negotiate over ransom demands or amnesties. But they have not fared any better, with a string of high-profile student abductions that has forced the closure of schools.

Private mediation has also been tried. The most prominent was by Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, the leader of the influential Izala Islamic sect. He held a series of forest meetings with bandits, arguing that their grievances should be taken seriously and would need the kind of political and financial investment that ended the Delta crisis.

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Why peace deals don’t work

There’s a tendency to see the bandits as an undifferentiated group of ruthless, criminally minded men, ready to welch on any deal as soon as it’s in their interests to do so. In much of Nigeria, they are referred to as “terrorists” – which clouds conciliation attempts.

Both Matawalle, the Zamfara governor, and Gumi, the cleric, have argued that among the bandits are the self-defence groups that took up arms to defend pastoralist communities against the Yan Sakai – and to protest government neglect – and these are the men the amnesties and promises of development spending aim to reach.

But regardless of government intentions, the problem is that the peace accords negotiated so far are badly flawed and amateurishly executed.

These are some of the key issues getting in the way of workable deals:

Nothing in writing: There are usually no documents that outline terms and conditions, and no legal framework to guide implementation. That’s why, one bandit leader told The New Humanitarian, he considers them a “deal”, not an “agreement”: They are essentially transient and non-binding.

Lack of consultation: The peace deals are further weakened by the lack of involvement of farming communities. As a result, the farmers believe the interests of the aggressors are prioritised over the rights of the victims. The Yan Sakai – who farmers see as vital community defenders – complain that they hear about peace deals over the radio, just like everybody else.

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Bandit proliferation: It’s estimated that there are at least 80 major gangs operating in the northwest. No chain of command unites them, and they act in their own individual interests. This means a complicated series of negotiations are needed to bring them all on board – if that’s even possible.

Hungry lieutenants: Negotiations are also complicated by the power dynamics within each gang. Deals are made with leaders, who have grown rich from banditry. They then need to sell the accord to their men, some of whom may not yet be ready to retire from a life of relatively easy money. Some deals have failed due to the overestimation of a warlord’s influence.

Guns galore: Media-friendly disarmament ceremonies don’t tell the full story. There are a lot of weapons in circulation, and it’s the village-based Yan Sakai that are at a disadvantage when it comes to surrendering them. The more mobile bandits can cache their weapons out of sight in the forests. And even though they are known to possess RPGs and anti-aircraft guns, those are usually not handed in – a lack of monitoring means they are likely to stay hidden.

No DDR: The lack of a formal disarmament, demobilisation, and rehabilitation (DRR) programme to support the reintegration of repentant bandits is also a challenge. Its absence compromises empowerment and psycho-social support programmes – which can leave surrendered bandits stranded and frustrated, vulnerable to re-recruitment.

Left and right hand: The lack of policy cohesion between the federal and state governments adds to the challenges of making peace. For instance, at the same time that Zamfara was offering an amnesty in 2018, the army was on an offensive, undermining the process.

The failure of the formally negotiated deals has seen the rise of hyper-local agreements between individual communities and the gangs, with villagers paying a tax in return for peace. In some areas, bandits now act as the law, settling local disputes and dispensing “justice”.

The way forward?

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Here are some suggestions to deliver better results:

Smarter warfare: Nigeria must adopt a whole-of-government approach, with an emphasis on a military strategy that is holistic rather than piecemeal. In the immediate term, to establish peace, the government must first gain legitimacy by protecting the people.

Coordination: Peace deals alone are not a silver bullet in the fight against banditry: But they can be managed far better than the current ad hoc approaches: They need to be part of a “joined up” strategy that involves states and the federal government.

Incentives: A formal DDR programme needs to accompany any peace arrangement, similar to what is being implemented for surrendering jihadist fighters in the country’s northeast. Many of the bandits are young pastoralists without formal education. To leave the bush, they will need incentives, in the form of training and support.

No impunity: DDR should target the low-ranking footsoldiers – but the warlords must be held accountable for their actions. Given the sclerotic and frequently corrupt formal justice system, Nigeria should consider establishing special courts to try them.

Reparations: The success of any peace deal will depend on how the victims of the banditry are treated – including compensation for losses incurred during the conflict. For peace to be seen to be just, it needs to include reparations.

Reserves: To end pastoralist encroachment on farms – and farmer encroachment on grazing lands – reserves need to be gazetted, with water points, veterinary services, and schools also provided: an ongoing plea from pastoralists.

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The government has drafted a National Livestock Transformation Plan that aims to curb the movement of cattle by encouraging pastoralists to switch to sedentary livestock production – more mechanisation and less transhumance. It’s a good start, but it is yet to be implemented – and faces financial, technical, and political challenges.

As this list of suggestions shows, for there to be any hope of ending the banditry in the long run, Nigeria must address the root causes of the conflict, and that requires far-reaching reforms in governance, and real accountability for all those associated with the insecurity.

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AFRICA

Tanzanian opposition leader returns home after years in exile

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Tanzanian opposition leader and former presidential candidate Tundu Lissu returned home from years of exile in Belgium to a cheering crowd on Wednesday, after the government lifted a ban on political rallies.

A former lawmaker and a fierce critic of the government, Lissu initially left the country to seek treatment abroad after he was shot 16 times, mostly in his lower abdomen, in an attack by unknown gunmen in the administrative capital Dodoma in 2017.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan lifted a ban on political rallies this month, more than six years after her predecessor John Magufuli imposed the measure which caused frequent run-ins between opposition leaders and police.

The move was welcomed by the opposition and it prompted Lissu to announce he would end his exile.

He was welcomed by a large gathering of his supporters at the Julius Nyerere International Airport, before making his way by car to a rally in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

Exile had been tough, he told the crowd which was waving his CHADEMA party flags, adding he would push for the enactment of a new constitution.

“Without a new constitution it will be difficult to change anything. Without it we won’t have a free and independent electoral commission,” he said.

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The current constitution vested too much power in the executive, he said, adding it was imperative to push for reforms.

“If you are tired of all these high taxes, high inflation of food… let us find a political solution, let us find a new constitution,” Lissu said.

Lissu, who had been arrested eight times in the year leading up to the gun attack he survived, returned to his homeland in 2020 to challenge Magufuli in an election.

However, shortly after the election he fled to the residence of the German ambassador after receiving death threats, and then left the country again.

Under the ban on rallies, which came into force in 2016, elected politicians were allowed to conduct rallies in their constituencies but other political rallies or protests were prohibited.

Magufuli died in March 2021 due to a heart disease that had plagued him for a decade. Upon ascending to the presidency, Hassan undertook some reforms, including lifting a ban on newspapers deemed critical and opening talks with opposition leaders.

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Nigeria: Federal Govt Sets Up 14-Man Committee to Manage Petroleum Products Supply, Distribution

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In a move to find lasting solution to the disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the constitution of a 14-man Steering Committee on Petroleum Products Supply and Distribution management, which he will personally chair, the ministry of petroleum resources announced yesterday.

The Steering Committee, which has minister of state for Petroleum Resource, Chief Timipre Sylva as alternate chairman is expected to among other things to ensure transparent and efficient supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.

Other terms of reference are to ensure national strategic stock management, visibility on the NNPC Limited refineries rehabilitation programme and ensure end-end tracking of petroleum products, especial PMS to ascertain daily national consumption and eliminate smuggling.

To further ensure sanity in the supply and distribution across the value chain, Sylva has directed the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to ensure strict compliance with the government approved ex-depot and retail prices for PMS.

The minister has further directed the NMDPRA to ensure that NNPC Limited, which is the supplier of last resort meets the domestic supply obligation of PMS and other petroleum products in the country.

He further directed that the interests of the ordinary Nigerian is protected from price exploitation on other deregulated products such as AGO and DPK and LPG.

The federal government will not allow misguided elements to bring untold hardship upon the citizenry and attempt to discredit government’s efforts in consolidating the gains made thus far in the oil and gas sector of the economy.

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Other members of the committee are minister of Finance, permanent secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, National Economic Adviser to the President, director-general, Department of State Services (DSS), comptroller-general, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Member (EFCC), and commandant-general, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC)

Others who made up the Steering Committee are Authority chief executive, Nigerian Midstream and Member Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), group chief executive officer, NNPC Limited, Special Advisor (Special Duties) to the HMSPR while the Technical Advisor (Midstream) to the HMSPR will serve as Secretary.

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Nigeria: SERAP Threatens to Drag Buhari to Court Over Attack On Peter Obi in Katsina

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari administration to promptly investigate the reported attacks on the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, or face a legal battle.

SERAP issued this warning to the government in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement said, “We’ll take legal action if the perpetrators are not immediately arrested and prosecuted.”

Meanwhile, the presidential campaign council of the Labour Party reported that the convoy of Obi was attacked two times in Katsina State on Monday.

A spokesperson for Obi/Datti Presidential Campaign Council Diran Onifade said Obi was attacked by hoodlums on his way to the airport after his rally in Katsina.

According to Onifade, some yet-to-be-identified hoodlums hurled heavy stones at the driver’s side of Obi’s vehicle on his way to the airport.

He said the stone caused heavy damage to the vehicle, though Obi and those in the car with him escaped without sustaining injuries.

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The spokesperson added that another set of hoodlums had earlier attacked the campaign convoy with stones in front of the Katsina stadium.

He said the attack left several vehicles, including that of the official stage crew damaged.

“Our candidate had met with women in a town hall and then held a hugely successful Rally at the Muhammad Dikko Stadium.

“However, on his way to the airport, hoodlums attacked the car our candidate was riding in with heavy stones from his driver’s side causing substantial damage to the vehicle.

“To the glory of God, Mr. Obi and other occupants of the car were unhurt.

“Subsequently another set of thugs also threw stones outside the stadium which damaged several vehicles including that of our official stage crew.

“The two incidents taken together make us suspect that the attacks may have been premeditated at the behest of desperate politicians who had been deluding themselves with the false claim that they had the northwest locked up but are now shocked by the show of force of the Obidient movement in the region.

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“While thanking the good people of Katsina who came out en masse to support our campaign yesterday, we call on security agencies to investigate this matter to forestall future occurrences,” the Campaign Council said.

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Nigeria: Inside the Multi-Million-Dollar Business Dispute Between Emefiele and ‘Brother-in-Law’

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John Omoile, who is demanding $36 million in damages, accuses Mr Emefiele of breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, negligent representation and fraud.

The governor of Nigeria’s central bank, Godwin Emefiele, is embroiled in a multi-million-dollar legal battle that has torn apart a once close family relationship. The legal tussle is separate from the troubles he faces over the handling of his job.

Mr Emefiele recently sneaked out and back to the country to avert the possibility of arrest by the State Security Service (SSS) who accuse him of financing terrorism.

He faces growing criticisms over the policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) often blamed for some of the nation’s economic woes and the scarcity of newly introduced currency notes just days before the deadline it set for phasing out the old notes.

As all of these happen, Mr Emefiele quietly grapples with a long-running feud which climaxed in a $36 million suit filed against him by a brother-in-law, John Omoile, in faraway Texas, the United States of America, in 2021.

The legal duel between Mr Emefiele and Mr Omoile is still on at the US District Court in the Northern Texas District.

Mr Omoile is demanding $36 million in damages for the losses he allegedly suffered as a result of the CBN governor’s alleged breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, negligent representation and fraud in course of their business partnerships.

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Apart from tearing apart a familial relationship, the feud has defied the larger family’s interventions, recorded a violation of a settlement agreement, and pitted lawyers engaged by both sides in the US against themselves.

The case has passed through at least five Texas law firms apart from the Nigerian lawyers keeping watch over the Nigerian end of the battle on behalf of the warring parties.

With the case just starting in court for the third time, Mr Omoile has indicated it will cost him $200,000 in attorney’s fees.

Mr Emefiele, too, has complained to the court that it will be extraordinarily burdensome for him to defend himself in the US, where he does not reside.

He has urged the court to dismiss the suit and hold that Nigeria is the appropriate jurisdiction to pursue the case, for reasons including the fact that the settlement agreement which covered all the issues between him and Mr Omoile was signed in Nigeria in 2014.

Background: Emefiele Vs Omoile

Mr Emefiele’s wife, Margaret, and John Omoile, a dual citizen of Nigeria and the US, are cousins raised in their teenage years by an aunt in Agbor, Delta State, South-south Nigeria, according to documents filed in court.

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The bond between them was so strong that they regarded each other as siblings. When Margaret got married to Mr Emefiele, the CBN governor had no difficulty regarding Mr Omoile as his brother-in-law.

Court documents described in compelling detail the rosy past of their family relationship.

Mr Emefiele visited and stayed with Mr Omoile’s family in Texas, US, during some of his vacations. He described how he lavished Mr Omoile with gifts, money, and business opportunities over the years.

Also remembering their once affectionate family relationship, Mr Omoile said of how they “shared homes, spent holidays and family gatherings together, have been close family friends, and as detailed below, became business partners/joint venturers.”

Mr Omoile, on different occasions, helped the Emefieles to buy houses in his neighbourhood in Coppell, Texas.

Drawing from the familial bond, mutual trust and goodwill they had built in each other for decades, their rapport flourished and grew into a business partnership in 2004.

They sent funds to each other for personal investments and joint ventures in Nigeria and in the US.

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But in the unsavoury turn of events, the previously trusted relatives now accuse each other of fraud, greed, deception, and extortion. The CBN governor, who vehemently denied wrongdoing, said the suit currently “is simply another attempt to extort $36 million” from him.

Zenith Bank stock investments

In 2004, Mr Omoile said he paid Mr Emefiele $50,000 for the purchase of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) investment in Zenith Bank in Nigeria, where Mr Emefiele was then an official.

In 2007, Mr Omoile received 200,000 additional shares from Mr Emefiele as a gift.

Mr Emefiele became the managing director of Zenith Bank in 2010 and the governor of the CBN in 2014.

Mr Omoile said he often raised questions but has yet to get an answer about the wide range of issues, including dividends issued, but not paid, the prices at which certain stock shares were supposedly acquired for him, “and the prices at which Defendant Emefiele actually acquired the shares.”

He accused Mr Emefile of continuing to “use his position as former Managing Director and current Governor of the Bank of Nigeria to actively prevent Plaintiff Omoile from getting a full and accurate accounting for his shares.”

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Mr Emefiele and a contentious oil and gas partnership

In a related development, Mr Omoile recalled that in 2007, he, Mr Emefiele and one Pius Oyibo signed a tripartite agreement in Coppell, Texas, to form an oil and gas company on 7 December 2007. The proposed firm, called Noka Energy Nigeria Limited, was to buy, sell and transport petroleum products in Nigeria.

Mr Omoile recalled that he made several trips and several contacts on behalf of the partnership to Houston, the Caribbean, and Nigeria to meet with oil and gas executives.

He recalled Mr Emefiele’s investment into the venture to include $200,000 sent to him for the purchase of 10 truck heads from LKQ in Houston for the partnership.

He said he bought the truck heads, the number not specified, and shipped them to Nigeria, for the business.

He said he would later discover that Mr Emefiele did not incorporate Noka Energy Nigeria Limited as agreed, but instead formed Dummies Oil and Gas for himself.

Real estate business

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In 2006, while the other business discussions between them were going on, they formed a partnership called Rosewood Malcom LLC which would buy, sell and develop real estate properties in the US.

The business plan, according to Mr Omoile, included him taking mortgages in his name for the benefit of the joint venture.

He said profit and loss were to be shared equally between the partners, but that that was not the case eventually.

He said once the joint venture started, profits were shared, however, losses were left for him to bear.

According to him, the venture acquired a property at 7026 W. 43rd Street, Houston Texas, for $141,000.

He also said he took a personal mortgage in his name for $167,000 from Wachovia Bank.

He recalled that as the properties’ market value crashed during the US economic meltdown between 2008 and 2009, he continued to be responsible for the substantial financial burden of mortgage servicing without any help or assistance from Mr Emefiele.

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He added that he purchased a property in 2008 in Coppell with $360,000 sent by Mr Emefiele.

But he said he was bearing the tax liabilities on the properties from his personal business accounts. According to him, the total personal loss he incurred for the real estate partnership and out-of-pocket expenses meant to be paid by Mr Emefiele was at least $500,000.

Mr Emefiele offers defence

Mr Emefiele has yet to formally file a defence to the suit, but his side of the story can be gleaned from the troves of documents he attached as exhibits to his preliminary court filings.

In a letter dated 17 January 2022, Mr Emefiele’s lawyer, Nitor Egbarin, denied the allegations raised in previous ‘legal demand’ letters which Mr Omoile’s lawyer, Donald Kaiser Jr, sent directly to the CBN governor.

In the strongly-worded letter, Mr Egbarin said his client was not involved in the management of Mr Omoile’s Zenith Bank’s shares and could not have blocked access to the records of the investments.

He said the fact that Mr Omoile used the CBN governor’s business address as his contact address for receiving his brokerage account statement “is not a proof that my client had legal responsibility for managing John’s money in the brokerage account.”

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He said his client is no longer the Managing director of Zenith Bank and is not Mr Omoile’s stockbroker.

“Your legal demand must be directed at John to provide you with his Zenith Bank accounts which he opened in Agbor and in Lagos. Proceeds from John’s brokerage account are deposited into John’s bank accounts in Lagos and in Agbor,” the letter read in part.

Also denying his client’s alleged breach of financial obligation to their real estate venture, Mr Egbarin went down memory lane, highlighting Mr Emefiele’s investments in the venture and financial assistance he had rendered to Mr Omoile.

He recalled that in 2006, Mr Omoile took out $200,000, using a pre-signed cheque, from Mr Emefiele’s bank account, and never accounted for the money meant to be used for estate development in Houston.

He said instead of using the money to develop the Houston property, Mr Omoile and his wife, on 17 January 2007, took out a $167,650 construction mortgage with Wachovia Mortgage.

He also recalled Mr Emefiele sent another $40,000 to Mr Omoile in 2009 for the purchase of a second real estate property on the plot next to the first property in Houston.

Tired of the frustrations from the investments, Mr Emefiele, according to his lawyer, decided to stop providing financial support to Mr Omoile in 2012.

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But, the lawyer said, with a settlement agreement the brothers-in-law singed on 26 April 2014, Mr Emefiele agreed to relinquish all his rights in the two properties in Houston to Mr Omoile valued at over $207,650.

He said Mr Emefiele also paid off the Wachovia Mortgage balance of about $155,000.

He said the CBN governor also sent $250,000 requested by Mr Omoile to clear unpaid income tax in 2020.

He said, from 2006 to 2020, Mr Omoile had received at least $645,000 in cash in financial support from Mr Emefiele.

But he did not address the issue of the failed oil and gas business plan.

‘No more free food’

Mr Egbarin’s letter went beyond defending his client. It was an unsparing frenzied personal attack on Mr Omoile and his lawyer.

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The letter describes Mr Emefiele as “a wealthy banker” and former chief executive officer of “the largest bank in Nigeria and West Africa” who has been “a generous donor, benefactor and breadwinner” to Mr Omoile over the years.

The CBN governor, according to the letter, “took care of John (Mr Omoile) as one would do of a brother-in-law,” providing “financial support to John and his wife and his children over the years.”

In a rather demeaning manner highlighting how much the relationship between the in-laws has soured, Mr Egbarin said his client was no longer prepared to continue to feed Mr Omoile. “You should advise John that my client does not wish to continue to feed him. John should pursue other means to make a living rather than continue to shakedown my client for more financial support.”

Turning on Mr Kaiser, Mr Egbarin accused him of incompetence and of having little understanding of the area of law he was handling for Mr Omoile.

He also accused the lawyer of making false claims about Mr Emefiele and of unethical practice by bypassing him to write directly to the CBN governor.

He said Mr Emefiele, on becoming the CBN governor, became a target for a lawsuit in Nigeria engaged by Mr Omoile for “harassment demanding monies for matters that had been settled in the 2014 Settlement Agreement.”

He said the letters of demand sent severally to Mr Emefiele to account for Mr Omoile’s shares is “an attempt to shakedown/extort my client for money.”

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He ended the letter with a devastating salvo to Mr Omoile. “Finally, there is still nothing more my client will do for John. The gravy train has come to a stop.”

Members of the larger family called a series of peace meetings attended by the brothers-in-law to settle their disputes.

The meetings were held in Nigeria. Some of the meetings were also held via Zoom.

They finally reached an agreement in 2014.

With the hope of getting “relief from the mounting debts” resulting from the real estate losses since 2007, Mr Omile said, he signed the agreement with Mr Emefiele on 26 April 2014.

But both sides have accused each other of violating the agreements.

The family also again called a series of Zoom meetings to resolve the disputes in April 2020.

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But in what would be the last straw, according to Mr Omoile, Mr Emefiele declared through his wife, Margaret, who represented him at one of the Zoom meetings, that there was never an intention to form and operate a joint oil and gas firm.

Mr Omoile said he realised then that he had been “induced with false statements and promises” to enter into a partnership with Mr Emefiele. He also said he realised that Mr Emefiele “never intended to follow through with his past promises”.

Unending Legal battle: Emefiele Vs Omoile

With settlement talks over, Mr Omoile took the decision to sue Mr Emefiele after the Zoom meetings in 2020.

In July 2021, he hired a Texas attorney, Kenneth Onyenah, who filed the suit claiming economic and actual damages against Mr Emefiele for the losses he allegedly incurred as a result of the CBN governor’s alleged failure to fulfil his financial obligations to him and their joint ventures.

He filed the suit at the US District Court of the Northern District of Texas.

But shortly after the filing, the lawyer withdrew the suit.

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Mr Omoile said the lawyer withdrew the suit without prior communication or his authority in August 2021.

He added that the lawyer took the step after he was threatened by Mr Emefiele’s lawyer, Mr Egbarin. But Mr Egbarin said the lawyer withdrew the case after realising it had no merit.

Later in 2021, Mr Omoile hired Donald Kaiser Jr. to reopen the case.

On 12 May 2022, Mr Kaiser refiled the suit at the 68th Judicial District Court in Dallas County, Texas.

But following Mr Emefiele’s objection, the suit was removed from the state court “on the basis of diversity jurisdiction” to a federal court, the US District Court of the Northern District of Texas.

A new lawyer named Ewomazino Magbegor is now representing Mr Emefiele following the refiling of the case.

Mr Magbebor is the second lawyer known on record to have defended the CBN governor in the matter in the US. From Mr Egbarin’s letter, the plaintiff, Mr Omoile, has engaged at least three lawyers in respect of the case.

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Mr Emefiele’s new lawyer, in November 2022, filed an application to challenge the service of the suit on the CBN governor through substituted means. He also sought the dismissal of the suit on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction on the matter.

The court’s decision on the application will determine the future of the case.

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