Rochas Okorocha linked to secret purchase of Niger Insurance

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Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okoracha has been linked to the secret purchased of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) block divestment of its 724.3 million shares stake in Niger Insurance Plc, National Daily has gathered.

The sales raise a number of concerns, chief of which is the clandestine nature of the transaction behind both AMCON’s involvement in Niger Insurance, and the subsequent sale its stake, ostensibly to a politically exposed individual or organization. 

The block sale was announced in the regular corporate disclosure section of the NSE but contained in an inconspicuous corner of the X-compliance report. Furthermore, the lack of visibility in the new investors raises a potential red flag that existing or future shareholders would want to take note of.

It was gathered that AMCON sold the stake at 0.54 kobo per share to Etha Ventures limited, a company allegedly linked to the Governor.

A simple internet search of the owner of Etha listed the Imo state governor as being the founder of numerous organizations, including Etha Ventures Limited. Also a document published on 9th March 2015 by a financial services consulting company listed Owelle Rochas Okorocha as the contact person for Etha Ventures Limited.

However, a search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) proved abortive. At the first attempt, the Company’s file wasn’t found in the registry. But a search on the CAC online data base yielded little. It showed that the company was registered on the 20th of October 2000 with its registered address in Abuja.

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Etha Ventures’ 9.3% stake is a significant one, and existing shareholders and analysts would want to understand what this investor brings to the table. What is its strategic strength, its experience in this line of business, and its competence? Is any long-term strategic game in play? It would be interesting to find out.

Further, what would be the impact of this on the company’s corporate governance? Would it deteriorate? If it deteriorates, it diminishes the company’s future prospects as an acquisition target.

Also important to add that the Imo State Governor is currently embroiled in a political controversy over the demolition of a popular market in the state capital and has also been severally criticised for his handling of the state’s pensioners.

Niger Insurance currently list Chrome Oil, a company owned by another close associate of Rochas, Emeka Offor as the highest shareholder with about 2,122,015,587  or 27% of the shares of the company.

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