…Delta Governor Ifeanyi Okowa connection
…while his qualification to head the bank is not in doubt, those who know, however, say Emefienim is just a front and a foot-soldier for the real owners of the bank. Fingers are pointing fixedly in the direction of the Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa
The jury is still out on the authentic ownership of Premium Trust Bank. The bank, which began operations in April 2022, describes itself as “a leading 21st Century financial institution that provides innovative solutions, which impact customers and their communities to make a positive difference in the world.”
The bank adds that “it was on a mission to provide solutions to peculiar financial challenges of customers through innovation and speed of execution, improving lives, communities, and businesses, and through premium service delivery, human capital, and customer experience.”
Emmanuel Emefienim is the managing director and chief executive officer of Premium Trust Bank. He is described on the bank’s website as “an accomplished Banker with over 30 years experience spanning Middle and Senior Management levels.” Until his resignation in March 2022, he was on the Board of Sterling Bank PLC as Executive Director with responsibilities to oversee the Institutional Banking Directorate.
Thus, while his qualification to head the bank is not in doubt, those who know, however, say Emefienim is just a front and a foot-soldier for the real owners of the bank. Fingers are pointing fixedly in the direction of the Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
Though the company started operations from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, it was able to secure a choice location for its Delta State branch – the building opposite the Delta State Secretariat on Maryam Babangida Way, Asaba, near the Central Bank of Nigeria. Another branch of the bank is at Airport Road, near Delta Career College, Warri. A veritable source said only the state government or a highly-placed government official could have got those spaces.
But the main pointer to Okowa’s stake in the bank arose when he reportedly instructed the state’s Accountant General to direct that all accounts in the MDAs across Delta State be moved to Premium Trust Bank. There were also speculations that when the Okowa administration applied for a N150 billion loan facility from a consortium of banks, the deal fell through, even after all the paper works had been done because the money was to be deposited in Premium Trust Bank as a way of enriching and boosting its rating.
Instructively, Okowa is the running mate to Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party who lost to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the February 25 presidential election. In the run-up to the election, the bank was forced to deny any tie with Okowa over a story that claimed; ‘Branded vehicles, made in the semblance of colours and logos of the All Progressive Congress, are hidden in the premises of the Premium Trust Bank, along Maryam Babangida Way, Asaba.”
In a letter written on their behalf by its solicitors, D.A. Awosika and Partners, the bank described the allegations as fabricated, fictitious, and maliciously erroneous, stating, “For the records, the Governor of Delta State and his family have no shares in our client. Also, there were no vehicles bearing the APC logo parked at the premises of our client in Asaba.”
On his part, Okowa has not denied his affiliation or otherwise with the bank, leaving the rumour to continue gathering traction. What is the governor hiding as regards his stakes in Premium Trust Bank?