A businessman, Lawal Taofeek, has lamented the loss of his life savings to a deal with Ranona Foods Limited, a subsidiary of a multinational company, Olam Group International.
Taofeek, who owns Keji Enterprises Limited which is managed by his wife, alleged that Ranona, producers of Fresh Yo Yogurt, had failed to repay him a debt of N11.9m.
Punch Metro learnt that the Ibadan, Oyo State indigene, had registered to be a distributor for the company sometime in 2013.
Adewale, however, was reported to have been supplying less of the products paid for by Taofeek’s firm on the pretext that the company had production problems.
He allegedly promised to supply the shortfalls as soon as the goods were ready, as Keji Enterprises reportedly continued paying into the company’s account.
A Punch correspondent learnt that the deficits had piled up when 50-year-old Taofeek demanded a statement of his account.
Punch Metro was told that it became clear that the sales representative had been diverting the goods.
Taofeek claimed that N11.9m goods were stolen by Adewale, adding that the company agreed to refund him the money.
“After I demanded my statement of account from the company, the regional sales manager, Ahmed Soufan, called me and said I should handle the sales rep very well because he had been given all my goods.
“I told him that I could not take the blame because they introduced the guy to me and I paid directly into the company’s account. They said they were not responsible, but after seeing the statement of my account which showed that I transferred directly to the company’s account, they kept quiet.
“They usually issued delivery invoice in triplicate copies – one for the customer, one for the sales rep and one for the company file. But the rep was taking everything without supplying me the goods. There was no evidence that I signed the delivery invoice. That was what saved me,” he added.
Punch correspondent obtained an agreement signed by Taofeek and Soufan, dated November 2015, titled, ‘Agreement between Ranona Limited and Keji Enterprises in respect of his outstanding stocks diverted by Oyebade Adewale.’
In the document, Ranona agreed to owing the distributor N11,944,775.
“That Ranona Limited will add 10 per cent worth of goods to every purchase made by Keji Enterprises forthwith as part-settlement of the outstanding under reference till everything is offset,” the agreement added.
The distributor said the company kept to the agreement for about two months before its factory in the Isolo area was gutted by fire in April 2016.
The yogurt company was said to have been shut down for about one and a half years during which there was a change of ownership.
Taofeek said upon the return of the company, he was sent a distributorship form.
“They sent a sales representative to me, saying they wanted to start afresh. I filled the form and returned it to them. They promised to call all their distributors for a meeting to start the process.
“However, they did not call me when they held the meeting in October 2017. It was one of the distributors who attended the meeting that called my wife to ask why she was not there.
“I called the regional manager, Soufan, to know why we were left out and he said they were looking for big guns and people who had a lot of money to do business. I was surprised because they owed me N11.9m and none of the distributors they invited for the meeting can boast of having N500,000 with them,” he added.
Taofeek explained that after much pressure, he was told that a sales representative of the company would have a meeting with him.
He said after waiting endlessly without hearing from the company, he called the supposed representative, whom he said dribbled him for over a month.
The businessman explained that the representative later called him and denied being told to have a meeting with him.
“After many attempts, the head of the company’s industrial relations, Lawal Adeola, called me and said the company owing me had been liquidated and I should forget about the money.
“If indeed the company had been sold, whoever bought it must have been told he bought both assets and liability. All I want is my money,” he said.
Soufan, however, told Punch Metro that the company had already paid N2m out of the debt owed Taofeek.
“We are not denying it (owing him). We have asked him to come for business, but he refused. He said he wanted money. For one and a half years the company folded up after a fire incident. We just started again and we cannot send him all that money at once.
“We did not invite all our distributors (for the meeting). We only invited a selected few. The fact that he was not called does not mean that we do not want to do business with him,” he said.
Adeola, in his reaction, said the distributor was not telling the truth, adding that the company was still keeping to the agreement.
He said, “There was an agreement that 10 per cent of the goods he buys will be given to him and he reneged on it. He said he was no longer interested in doing business; and what do we do about it?
“He was the one who paid the man who diverted the goods, and despite that, the company accepted responsibility for it. Now, he said he wanted money. Ranona was bought by one of the companies that make up the group.”
The Vice President, Corporate and Government Relations, Olam Nigeria, Ade Adefeko, asked that the enquiries of our correspondent should be sent to him via email on Tuesday, June 19.
“Will revert to you when my colleague from Ranona responds to my inquiry; he is currently on vacation,” he said in his response after receiving the message.
As of Tuesday, he had yet to get back.
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