Sanusi urged to rescue wonder banks’ victims

Timely intervention - CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi
Timely intervention - CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi

The new Central Bank Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has been urged to wade into the plight of thousands of Nigerians home and abroad who fell victims to the scams of the so called ‘wonder Banks’ and safe them from further (the victims) agonies.

The company was owned by Alhaji  Maiyaki and a group of other directors who had a strong link with Zenon Oil Company, a frontline indigenous petroleum company with whom Nospetco has entered into a business marriage as a major diesel oil distributor in Nigeria.

Nospetco picked up fortune when its campaign of get rich quick strategy dazzled gullible members of the public who registered in thousands to invest their money( many of the invested money being borrowed loan from local and foreign banks) with the hope that it would yield quick dividends.

In the Nospetco’s well crafted, articulated and machinated strategy, customers were encouraged to invest a sum of  Four Hundred and fifty thousand Naira(N450,000) minimum while expecting a return of Forty Thousand Naira every months. In the deal, the initial capital invested was to be retained.By the laid down rule, any money invested can only be withdrawn after six months of its deposit.

However, every fixed amount of money invested generates  a fixed amount of interest  and investment came to the company in thousands with many investing millions of Naira. Many Nigerians abroad joined the bandwagon exploiting the get rich quick scheme. Many invested money were loans taking from Banks.

“The success of this scheme was the result end of the prevailing poverty and lack of good source of livelihood’ claimed Benjamin Osifo, a lawyer and human resources adviser. ‘Many of the investors spread across the world however were not aware of the in-depth goal of the company as aiming to scam them while teasing them with ransom amounts.’ He continued.

No specific mention was made to investors about the normal directors’ rights as there was no provision of bi-annual or annual profit and loss statement in the statement policy of the company as the investors were blinded by their thirst for quick dividends.

“The strategy worked out that the company was paying old customers with deposits from new customers, while still engaging in the legitimate business of diesel oil distribution and other contract.”, an experienced banker who claimed to be one of the  victims said.

The success of Nospetco however gave birth to the emergence of many  other “wonder Bank” companies which milked the fortune of thousands of their victims as they convinced their prey that their business was genuine, clean and not designed to defraud anybody. As they put it according to a source: ‘the scheme was aimed at alleviating poverty for many Nigerians’.

‘No doubt, these are gigantic blood sucking demons that has sucked away the lifeblood of many innocent Nigerians. A bottomless pit that has swallowed many victims up along with their money’ claimed London based Amachi, another  victim of the scam.

However, Nospetco picked up trouble when its romance with Zenon Petrolium and Gas Company came under strain as the company (Zenon) opted to sell diesel to retailers at located petrol stations across the country at lower prices”. The decision by Zenon however sent dreadful tremors to many of her (Zenon) distributors, Nospetco inclusive.

“This was a back breaking point which forced Nospetco into diversification of  resources from Nospetco Joint Venture Management Services, handler of the ‘Wonder Bank’ department into other areas of its operation as they struggle to meet up with other company financial obligations” observed a source close to the Management of the company.

Lack of  frequent payment and drastic reduction of dividends to investors had made many intending investors to pull back as information passed round about low returns and the impending blow to many customers of the possibility of loosing their money.’ The source continued.

However, the last straw came when the Central Bank of Nigeria ordered that commercial banks in the country should close the accounts of those companies engaging in the schemes. The CBN whistle sound  led to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision (EFCC) hunting down the directors many of whom remain untraceable till now. The  hunting exercise resulted in the closure of many of the emergency fund gesturers’ offices particularly in Lagos.

Many commercial Banks in the country had felt so worried that many customers were opting for the wonder banks at their expense and complained bitterly to the Central Bank of the illegality of Nospetco and its wonder Bank competitors. The fact that they were not registered as  finance Houses while operation the Bank’s duties, thus culminated in the action taken by both Central Bank and EFCC.

The nation’s  financial houses needed to protect innocent victims which led to the  Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), placing advertisement in the media warning  that anybody patronizing the wonder Banks does so at his/her own risk’. Our source continued.

The big commercial Banks had wielded a big stick when they resolved to dissociate from the Wonder Bank’s dealings claiming they were operating as banks in disguise.

The Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank reportedly forbade his employees from having anything to do with the company, claiming the wonder Banks were performing the role of a normal bank indirectly using the services of normal banks claiming  the Wonder Banks were gradually becoming  banks with no operating licenses.

It was like the turn of a massive table when jittery customers bombarded the various offices of Nospetco and others asking for the payment of their invested funds. Many of the staff members were harassed and stoned while offices were vandalized at sight as irate customers unleashed terrors in desperate request of their money.

Ever since the event of the closure unfolded attempts had been made to ease the tension of many frustrated investors, many of who had invested their life savings due to loss of hope with the economic climate in the country.

In a different development, Bertram Nwannekanma of Guardian Newspaper reported last April  that   about 211 investors instituted a legal action against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),  Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and  27 other institutions at the Federal High Court, Lagos over the freezing of their investments.

Other defendants in the suit are the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Securities and Exchange Commission, Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Equatorial Trust Bank Plc, First bank Nigeria Plc, First Inland Bank PLC, Guarantee Trust Bank Plc, IBTC Chartered Bank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, Union > The 1st to 10th defendants in whose companies the plaintiffs invested their monies were Nospetco Oil & Gas Limited; Sefteg Nigeria Company Ltd; Gold Power Unique Services Ltd; Wealth Solution Ltd; Real & Cool Wealth International Ltd; Wealth Zone Ltd; Wealth Solution Ltd; Silvertrust Global Investment Company Ltd; Multiple Covenant Investment Ltd; Treasured Fund and Assets Ltd. Bank PLc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Wema Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc and Intercontinental Bank Plc.

The plaintiffs who include Abiodun Adebowale, Abayomi Sadiku, Adedeji Wasiu, Temitope Odufote, Temitope Fagbola, Fagbola Fidelis Olusegun, Adedeji Adebisi, Olalekan Adedeji, Elegbe Oladipo, Elegbe Yawande and Ochuwa Ubani averred through their counsel, Bamidele Aturu that the 1st -10th defendants being duly registered companies are legal entities with full powers to do businesses and to borrow money for the purpose of their business.

According to the plaintiffs, the 1st -10th defendants in pursuance of their powers borrowed money for the furtherance of their businesses from them.

They also said in soliciting for their funds, the 1st -10th defendants offered to pay various sums of monies being their share of the profit from the businesses as interest on the loans monthly to them. The plaintiffs through their counsel are seeking the court’s declaration that they (the plaintiffs) being innocent private investors are entitled to their monies invested in the companies.

They are also seeking a declaration that the freezing of the first and 10th defendants’ accounts, which include the funds of the claimants by the CBN and SEC is unlawful. However, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is being urged to overturn the decision by the former Cetral Bank Governor, Charles Chukwuma Soludo in releasing the frozen invested money to the innocent victims of the scam.

A representative of the plaintiffs, London based Olalekan Adedeji said the current Central Bank Governor had demonstrated enough sensibility through his actions as a true patriot who means well for Nigeria and myriads of her financial management problems.

‘By so doing, he has shown that he has the plight of the common Nigerians at heart’. We have no interest to embarrass Sanusi getting involved in the current Court case. All we want is our hard earned and borrowed money from various Banks be returned to save us from further agonies.’ He pleaded.