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A mid-size banking institution in Nigeria, Heritage bank has appealed to the national and international business community to deny reports alleging the Saraki family hold ownership in the financial institution.

A leading shareholder of the bank, Alhaji Musa Ibrahim Misau  at a briefing in Abuja yesterday repudiated claims by an online media platform that the bank is co-owned by the former Chairman of Skye Bank, Dr. Tunde Ayeni and the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

According to Alhaji Musa Ibrahim Misau “we are thoroughly miffed by the attempt by certain persons or groups, who do not mean well for the economy of our great country and indeed the economic agenda of our dear President, to negatively target Heritage Bank, a bank that the Central Bank of Nigeria and several local and internal rating agencies have ranked among the healthiest banks in Nigeria, as a struggling bank. This is a glaring case of de-marketing and we have since drawn the attention of the CBN to this very dangerous trend,”

Alhaji Musa Ibrahim Misau stated that Tunde Ayeni has less than one per cent share in Heritage Bank and Bukola Saraki has no shares or any form of ownership stakes in Heritage Bank.”

Ibrahim Misau maintained that “it is not a secret that the owners and key shareholders in Heritage Bank bought off the defunct Societe Generale Bank (SGBN) which was owned by the Saraki Family. The Saraki Family was out-rightly bought out. The family, including Dr. Bukola Saraki does not have a dime in Heritage Bank. We have in just a few years built this bank to a colossus that has become the envy of the sector and we are not going to sit by and allow ill-intentioned persons to de-market Heritage bank. No, it will not happen,” he said.

Other shareholders at the briefing also decried suggestions by the online news platform that the CBN may be planning to sack the management and board of Heritage Bank. Ibrahim Misau said “it is far from the truth. The fact that Tunde Ayeni is a very marginal shareholder in the bank does not at all mean that what happened at Skye Bank would necessarily happen at Heritage Bank. The two banks are not in any way related, the two banks do not have similar ownership structure or management model.”

Tunde Ayeni he said has marginal shares in other healthy banks in Nigeria, “does that now mean that the CBN would sack the management and board of these banks as well? What is the basis of the claim by this online news medium that Heritage Bank is being targeted by CBN?” queried Alhaji Ibrahim.

Recently, Heritage Bank was adopted by the CBN as the sole pilot bank for the Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP). The programme is aimed at harnessing the latent entrepreneurial spirit among the teeming youths by providing timely and affordable loans to implement their business ideas. This further provides a sustainable mechanism to stimulate employment, contribute to the nation’s non-oil GDP, and address the challenge of youth restiveness.