Fidelity Bank Nigeria Appoints Acting MD as Okonkwo Detained

  • Mohammed Balarabe's appointment subject to regulatory approval
  • Anti-graft agency says Okonkwo arrested over illegal dealings

Nigerian lender Fidelity Bank Plc appointed Mohammed Balarabe as acting head after its Managing Director Nnamdi Okonkwo was detained over alleged illegal dealings by the bank.

Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, arrested Okonkwo and is investigating him over “suspected illegal transactions,” EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren said Tuesday by phone from Lagos, the commercial capital.

“At the end of the investigation there will be a formal statement on our findings. Charges are to be filed,’’ he said, declining to give further details.

Okonkwo didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment and Fidelity Bank spokesman Ejike Ndiulo declined to talk about the matter. In a statement sent to reporters by text message, the lender said Balarabe had been appointed “in the absence” of Okonkwo.

Shares Decline

Balarabe’s appointment is subject to regulatory approval, Fidelity Bank said in the statement, adding it was reassuring “all its stakeholders including over 400,000 shareholders and 3.4 million customers of its continued seamless services.”

The Lagos-based bank said last week it is cooperating with the EFCC on its investigations into transactions undertaken by the lender last year.

Fidelity Bank shares declined 6 percent to 1.10 naira at close of trading in Lagos, its lowest since Feb. 29. The shares have retreated 27 percent this year compared with an 10 percent overall decline of the 177-member Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share Index.

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