It’s pretty funky to live in the glitz of klieg lights and the razzmatazz of the paparazzi. The highfalutin world of all motion without movement. The World of movers and shakers of the society. The world power and influence. Simply the world of celebrities, of achievers. It requires so much hard work to attain that height, and once there, requires even much harder work to maintain. No matter the route or the ladder one used in getting there, the scrutiny, the expositions that follows, oft blind many. And even, often than not, many of the great breakthroughs in the World always fall into a slight kryptonite to fall into an abyss of a tragedy.
The grandiloquent la-di-da life of opulence has an unending allure for the impressionable minds of the youths. It is the craziest cravings of many youths. The proverbial children born with silver-spoons occupy a different podium. The self-attained novae riche class certainly prides themselves with the higher podium. The earlier it comes the better. Though, proverbially, life, they say begins at forty. Yet why not, if not, if it can begin pretty well at twenty-one?
The clarion call for the youths in the National Youth Service Scheme’s anthem to put the nation first with service and humility never direct the steps of many a youths. But this applies not only to the youths, but all patriots. Upscale thinking is permitted, but with the narrow ambit of the law. Late Rasheed Gbadamosi broke the ranks. He became a Commissioner in the service of Lagos State at the age of 28. The age Obinwanne ‘Invictus’ Okeke also broke the barriers and entered the Forbes magazine’s ‘Africa 30 under 30 entrepreneurs’.
The earlier the breakthrough, the better. It even afford Inspirational speakers more elasticity in building positivism. Inspirational speakers are generally known to be quick in reeling out names of celebrated achievers in their morale boosting talks. They usually recourse to Spirit lifting stories of how celebrities become celebrated, how a trader become a mogul. But often leave out monumental fall from celebrity status to opprobrium. Obinwanne ‘Invictus’ Okeke was one; a fantastic one at that. Fitting the bills perfectly. Himself, an Inspirational Speaker aside sitting on top of the amorphously huge Invictus Group in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory. He said he deals in I.T, Oil and Gas, Real Estate and Renewal Energy. A human cyborg of sort. Okeke was celebrated. He was deemed qualified to speak to the youngsters. And the youngsters actually drooled in their numbers to hear him talk. He has lived in the United States. He had worked in many top rated companies. He had made fortune. Now he was back home. So he had a lot to give. So the people thought. Obinwanne Okeke was diametrically antithetical to these lofty ideas and ideals he so much fervently espoused. He was living a fraudulent life!
The story of the young man, Obinwanna Okeke and another couple, Fredrick Ebiesuwa and his spouse, Tinuola Oyegunle, who jointly run a hotel in Igbogbo area of Ikorodu, Lagos State, Victoria East Park Hotel and Suites are almost entwined, almost evenly matched. Both using legitimate businesses to hoodwink the populace and cover up their fraudulent tracks.
‘Invictus’ Okeke bursts into the celebrities circle in 2016 as a 28 year old entrepreneur. He was a dashing youth of 28 years. He was living in the United States. He suddenly became rich, superfluously rich that he broke into the World’s consciousness through the Forbes magazine’s publication on some ’Africa 30 under 30’ entrepreneurs. Please note that Forbes magazine is not any of the down street celebrities publications. It is a deeply serious-minded worldwide achievement publication.
The story ran for months. The social media locally picked it up and celebrated their own who braved all the odds of environmental inhibitions to reach the top. He moved down to Nigeria. His local Anambra State was a small pool. He could not swim there. Abuja, the Federal Capital is where the big Oceans are. Where the powers that be swim and operate. He moved to the superfluous Asokoro District where the powers live. He also quickly internationalized his business by opening operational offices in South Africa and Zambia. He was really on top of his business world. But what business?
Okeke was flying in and out of US like a dysentery patient would visits the loo. On one of such in and out visits in August 2018, he was arrested at the Airport. Ever since the lid was lifted off his Pandora box. He has been engaged with some others in email Phishing and Website hacking in the United States for since mid-2000s. The news broke awkwardly. The Forbes magazine, who had celebrated him barely two years earlier, find it hard to believe. So also are its million readers, both the hardcopy and online editions.
Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) checks revealed his Involvement in a computer-based intrusion fraud scheme that caused approximately $11 million in known losses to his victims. Through subterfuge and impersonation, Obinwanna Okeke engaged in a multi-year global business email and computer hacking scheme that caused a staggering $11 million in known losses to his victims’, said Raj Parekh, Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Now after the glitz and razzmatazz, the Invictus Chief is cooling his head in a district prison home in the US, far away from the madding crowd of vile sloganeering, boot lickers and praise singers. He would be alone, cold, empty and lonely, with some faint images of his missteps flashing through his mind. The nights at Five Star hotels count for nothing now. The luxuries of those first class flights on Boeing 747 or Concorde planes are far remote now. So also are the many vain glorious His Excellences, My Distinguished Senators, My Honourable, and several power brokers who flock in and out of the Invictus Group headquarters in the upscale Asokoro District in Abuja. He would be alone in the dungeon ruminating over what is left of his very existence here in the planet Earth. That is the next ten years has in store for him.
So much for Invictus as for Fredrick Ebiesuwa and his lovely spouse, Tinuola Oyegunle. They do not only jointly run a hotel, Victoria East Park Hotel and Suites in Igbogbo area of Ikorodu, Lagos State, but also in the underworld business of fraudulent obtaining famously nicknamed 419, after Section 319 sub section 1 of the Criminal Code Procedure. The couple have been sentenced to 40 years in goal for the escapades involving a 53 million naira fleece from one Dunni Olateru-Olagbegi. The couples are in their forties. So much for their ages.
The love birds, Fred and Tinu may have entered the road to final journey of their lives. They are on the wrong side of 40s, by the time they come back, time and season might have passed them. Despite all, still, I am of the firm belief that Obinwanne Okeke, can still come back and remodel his life positively. He claims to hold a Bachelor’s and another Master’s degree in International Relations and Counter Terrorism from an Australian University. If this claims are true, then the future is still there. After all, he goes in at 33 and should come back by 40 or so. After all, life they say, begins at 40.
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria
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Image: Courtesy Google.