Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Items filtered by date: January 2017

THOSE who were in Lagos around 1991-2 would remember Forum Finance located on Allen Avenue in Ikeja,a company that employed a number of young men and women in flashy cars going about town duping the gullible of their hard earned money. Its famous advert was “Forum go double your money!”. It paid outrageous returns to its earlier investors and this made many fools to part with their money . By the time the bubble burst,it was sorrow and tears for thousands of unwary who lost their fortunes to the Ponzi scheme . Ponzi schemes are named after Charles Ponzi, an Italian immigrant who perpetrated a legendary scam. Actually, he wasn’t the inventor of this type of scams – it was called “Robbing Peter to pay Paul” schemes – but his was so large that his name became synonymous with it. Ponzi started a business buying and selling a type of postal coupon and promised investors a 50% return on their money within 45 days (compare this to an annual 5% interest for bank savings account at the time).

Money from investors

Ponzi’s early investors did get their money doubled and even tripled in a short amount of time. This, and glowing newspaper reports at the time about his company, the Securities Exchange Company  got him a lot of money from investors. At one point, Ponzi took in $1 million in a three-hour period from investors. All in all, about 40,000 investors invested about $15 million in Ponzi’s scheme in nine months between 1919 and 1920 (about $184 million in 2017 value).

Failed Scheme:

When it was discovered that Ponzi was paying old investors with money from new ones, his scheme collapsed and he was sent to jail … for five  years! After serving his federal sentence, Ponzi was sentenced by the State of Massachusetts for an additional nine years, but he skipped town. Ponzi ended up in Brazil, where he spent his last years in poverty and sickness. Before he died, Ponzi gave one last interview where he confessed to his crime.  “My business is simple. It was the old game of robbing Peter to pay Paul. You would give me one hundred dollars and I would give you a note to pay you one-hundred-and-fifty dollars in three months. Usually I would redeem my note in 45 days. My notes became more valuable than American money … Then came trouble. The whole thing was broken.” (Zuckoff, Mitchell, Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend, p. 313)

Early Ponzi schemes:

In the 1980s in San Diego, California, J. David & Company, a purported currency and commodity trading and investing operation named after its founder, J. David Dominelli, a withdrawn and shy currency and commodity trader, was revealed to be a Ponzi scheme which took in $200 million and returned $120 million to investors, leaving a net loss of $80 million. The scheme touched all levels of upper class business and professional life in San Diego and environs. One of those most closely involved was Nancy Hoover, the mayor of Del Mar, California, a cozy upscale beach town just north of La Jolla. Hoover was J. David’s assistant and live-in companion at the time. Also involved was the prominent New York law firm Rogers & Wells (now Clifford Chance), which had advised J. David (through a rogue partner) and others. When the fall came, J. David briefly escaped to Montserrat in the Caribbean, but was returned ultimately to plead guilty to federal charges and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment,serving 10 before being paroled. You should not have forgotten now that financier Bernard “Bernie” Madoff was arrested for running a Ponzi scheme. There are four notable facts about his operation: It was the largest (dollar-wise) It was the longest-running (known) Ponzi scheme in history. Investigators sifting through the record found evidence of hanky panky since the 1970s. It was perpetrated by one of the pillars of Wall Street – Madoff was a former chairman of NASDAQ His victims are some of the most financially savvy and rich people in the world (you need at least $20 million to “invest” with him). His  website used to say before it was taken over by authorities: In an era of faceless organizations owned by other equally faceless organizations, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC harks back to an earlier era in the financial world: The owner’s name is on the door. Clients know that Bernard Madoff has a personal interest in maintaining the unblemished record of value, fair-dealing, and high ethical standards that has always been the firm’s hallmark. There was also  Biletov  or fractions of shares of the MMM Corp, bearing the likeness of Sergey Mavrodi. Just one million people? Meh, said Sergey Mavrodi. His scheme duped two million people!

The Mavrodi  scheme:

Mavrodi was a Russian scammer who along with his brother Vyacheslav Mavrodi and Vyacheslav’s future wife Marina Murayveya, founded the MMM company in (the triple Ms came from the surnames of these three people). In the early 1990s, MMM promised dividends of 1,000%, promoted itself heavily in TV ads, and delivered on its promise. At its peak, Mavrodi’s company was taking in more than $11 million a day from the public! Within five years, Mavrodi took in $1.5 billion from at least two million people. When the whole thing unraveled and the police raided MMM offices for tax evasion, Mavrodi pulled another fast one: he convinced his “investors” that it was the government’s fault that they lost their investment. He even ran for the Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) to get the government to initiate a “payback” programme … and he was elected! That was a good thing because he got himself a parliamentary immunity. When his immunity was later revoked, Mavrodi went on the lam. In 2003, he was arrested , fined $390, and sent to a penal colony for four-and-a-half years. That translates to about $38,052 swindled per hour in the slammer. MMM surfaced in Nigeria in 2016 with a promise on 30 per cent return on any money into the scheme in 30days!

House of Reps intervention

The House of Representatives did one good in its life by warning people against this scam. It asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,  and the Central Bank, CBN,  of Nigeria to immediately go after the promoters Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox, otherwise known as ‘MMM’ in Nigeria. Lawmakers strongly opposed the investment scheme, which lately gained popularity among Nigerians in the wake of the current economic recession in the country. The Chairman, House Committee on Telecommunications, Mr. Saheed Fijabi, had in a motion, drawn the attention of the House to the growing popularity of the scheme among Nigerians. “The scheme entered the Nigerian circle in 2016, capitalising on the high level of unemployment and poverty to deceive unwary Nigerians into falling  prey to their antics”, Fijabi stated. He added that  the fact that MMM was not regulated by law or approved by the CBN as a secure business venture, made Nigerians more vulnerable. Nobody did anything. By December 2016 when the company froze the accounts of its 3m “muguns’ it had raked billions of Naira unhindered.

The level of our ethical collapse was seen with images of worship places that should teach the right values about wealth creation organizing Ponzi seminars for MMM in their auditoria.How low can it get for a country . Our security agents who were raiding Bureau De Change operators months ago are not yet on record to have gone after the MMM operators who are not known to gave been licensed by the CBN to carry out any financial operations in Nigeria. Is there a government here? My heart sank when I saw Nigerians in their hundreds dancing and holding a vigil on the eve of the January 14 promise by the Ponzi schemers to start another round of duping session. My conclusion was that these people are irretrievably damaged psychologically and it would take a major shock in the system to get them to reason like normal cognitive human beings on this side of eternity. Is their fault totally ?  No,I think the wayward Nigerian system which places emphasis on “sharing” has turned them into playthings in the hands of scammer because of expectations of free money in the order of our allocation mentality.

Goodnight, Alfred Ilenre!

THE cold hands of death   came calling last week plucking one of the most consistent and clear headed activists in the crusade for the restructuring of Nigeria, Mr. Alfred Ilenre at the age of 76. Mr. Ilenre was a journalist with the Nigerian Tribune.  Midwest Champion,Nigeria Observer and Nigerian Herald among others. He was until his Death the General Secretary of Ethnic Minorities Rights Organisation of Africa, EMIROAF, and an effective participant in many platforms that are concerned with getting the proper structures for Nigeria, I met him for the first time in 1990 when I went to the Tejuosho office of the late Ken Saro-Wiwa to interview him for The Punch newspapers.He was to make use of the office with Ken’s PA,Wayi, for many years after he was hung to sustain the struggle he died for.

We worked closely ever since then. I would call him to make appearances on TV every now and again because of his clarity and then on issues of common concern and he would always oblige except he was not in town. My last contact with him was in the home of the renowned poet,Odia Ofeimun during which we shared some thoughts as we used to do. I was to see him again after that with my wife as he was driving on some Lagos street  but he did not hear our calling. The struggle for federalism in Nigeria has once again lost one of its most erudite disciples but it definitely continues . 

Published in Parliament

The #BBOG activists airbone in Sambisa forest. They should tell us what they saw and their impression of the flight

SPONSORED BY X365RADIO.COM: The Federal Government team, led by the Ministers of Information and Culture as well as of Defence, Monday led the #BBOG and a select group of journalists to the Nort East to experience first hand the NAF’s daily search of Sambisa for the Chibok girls and all those abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists.

The ministers and two #BBOG representatives, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili and Mrs Aisha Yusuf, and the SA to the President in the Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, joined one of the two search planes while the journalists joined the other.

Fighter jets provided air cover. The one-hour search was very revealing.

Beyond that, the men and women of the Nigeria Air Force deserved the support and commendation of all Nigerians for their onerous task.


Ezekwesili and Yusuf on air in Sambisa

Ministers of Defence and Information and Culture during the flight over Sambisa forest

Ezekwesili and Mrs Aisha Yusuf airbone looking for the Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram

Published in News & Stories

Troops discover bodies of Boko Haram fighters

SPONSORED BY X365TV.COM: Two Air Force Beechcraft planes yesterday flew military officers, government officials and leaders of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaigners on a surveillance of the Sambisa forest – the former stronghold of the terrorist group Boko Haram.
Aboard were BBOG members former Minister of Education Oby Ezekwezili, coordinator Aisha Yesufu and Dr. Manasseh Allen.
On the flight were Minister of Defence Brig.-Gen. Dan Alli (retd.) Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar and Information Minister Lai Mohammed  …

BBOG leaders made the trip after declining to do so and giving the government conditions which were rejected.
On Sunday night, the BBOG wrote to Mohammed on its decision to join the surveillance.

The contingent was flown to Yola, the Adamawa State capital, from Abuja on an air transport plane Hercules C-130 before the surveillance flight.
They returned from the trip at about 6pm. Another team, comprising of journalists, were on night surveillance.

Also yesterday, troops discovered a mass grave where insurgents who escaped with injuries during a battle with soldiers, but later died, were buried.
To Gen. Alli, the capture of Camp Zairo in Sambisa forest is “end of Mission” and not the end of the campaign against Boko Haram.
The minister spoke in Yola at the Command Centre of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) during a briefing for members of the BBOG team.
The BBOG group had been invited by Mohammed on an operational visit to Sambisa forest to have a first- hand view of how the military had been fighting the war on insurgency and the efforts to rescue the abducted Chibok girls.

The minister was responding to questions from Ms. Ezekwezili on why the military was still conducting operations in Sambisa when it claimed to have captured it.
“Camp Zairo is the spiritual headquarters of Boko Haram. It doesn’t mean when you capture that all of them will disappear, but it is significant because it was thought that the place was impregnable.
”Capturing Camp Zairo is the end of the mission to capture the place; we are not saying the campaign is over but we have dominated Camp Zairo.” the Minister said.

Leading the briefing, the Air Officer Commanding, Tactical Air Command, Air Vice Marshal, Nurudeen Balogun, said NAF Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance  (ISR) missions over Sambisa forest revealed women and children trying to flee Boko Haram.
Also at the briefing was the Chief of the Air Staff.

“We have intensified our ISR to ensure displaced Boko Haram members do not regroup. Since January 1 to 15, 2017, we have flown a number of sorties and there have been some sightings of abductees,” Balogun said.
He recalled that on January 7, some women and children were seen fleeing from a Boko Haram hideout near Dure village, Njimia, Tumbun Rego, Arege, Dogon Chuku and Yuwe villages.

“On January 8th, our Mi-17 aircraft picked up eight women and 11 children from a location close to Dure village. The women were taken to Maiduguri airbase and thereafter to the air force hospital for medical check-up.”
CAS Sadique Abubakar said the rescue of the Chibok girls and other abductees is one of the major aims of the NAF. He said the NAF has procured four aircraft dedicated to ISR and is working on the fifth one.

“Until 2015, we had only one aircraft doing ISR, but now we have four and about to fit one of the most sophisticated cameras into the fifth.
“We want you to know that we are careful not to bomb people who have no business fighting us. If we are fighting Boko Haram because they are killing people, we can’t go on and do the same. There are times when the pilots would return to base with their bombs because they sighted women and children.
“I am glad you are here, you will go on board with us and see how much our personnel have put in this. Sometimes they leave by midnight and don’t come back until 4:am just looking for all abductees and the Chibok girls,” Air Marshal Abubakar said.

Published in Headliners
Monday, 16 January 2017 15:55

BUY656: Naira stabilises at N497 to dollar

SPONSORED BY BUY656.COM: The Naira on Monday stabilised at N497 to a dollar at the open market just as stakeholders expressed hope in its imminent recovery, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports.

The Nigerian currency, however, strengthened against the Pounds Sterling, but weakened against the Euro at the open or parallel market as it closed at N595 and N517, respectively; from N597 and N515 posted on Friday.

At the Bureau De Change (BDC) window, the Naira traded at N399 to a dollar, a rate it would maintain for the rest of the week, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro traded at N604 and N522 respectively.

Trading at the interbank market saw the Naira weakened further at N305.25 to a dollar, from N305 posted on Friday.

Traders at the market said that while the scarcity of the greenback remained visible, there were strong indications that the Naira was on its way to imminent recovery.

NAN reports that since the closure in the sale of forex to BDCs last December, the spike in the Naira exchange rate had continued unabated.

Worried by the development, the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) last week pushed for the adoption of a single rate at the market.

Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, the President ABCON, argued that multiple rates were frustrating efforts at stabilising the Naira and fast tracking its recovery trajectory.

Gwadabe expressed optimism that the resumption in the sale of about N250 million dollars to members of the association this week would help in addressing liquidity challenges in the market.

Published in Business and Economy

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM...THE BUSINESS DIRECTORY: A professor and four other persons were killed today when a male suicide bomber detonated a bomb at the Senior Staff Quarters of the University of Maiduguri, (UNIMAID), Borno State.

The killed don was identified as Prof. Aliyu Usman Mani, the Director of Veterinary of the University, according to Alhaji Satomi Ahmed, the Chairman of State Emergency Management Agency(SEMA).

The Commissioner of Police(CP), Damian Chukwu, confirmed the incident to newsmen in Maiduguri.

Chukwu said that 15 persons, who sustained various degrees of injuries were rushed to hospital.

“At about 5:45 a.m. a mobile police officer who is on duty sighted a suicide bomber who was trying to scale the fence at Gate Five of the university.

” Suspicious of his movement, the mobile police officer instantly gunned him down and his bomb exploded and killed him instantly.

“The second suicide bomber, a seven year-old detonated the second explosive at the senior staff quarters mosque in the university where a professor, and four persons were killed and 15 persons sustained various degrees of injuries and were rushed to the hospital,”said Chukwu.

Chairman State Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Satomi Ahmed said; ” All I can say is to appeal to the people to be vigilant and ensure proper watch because, like we have said, the insurgents are in disarray and employing any tactic to cause havoc.

“The people must be vigilant at all time,” said Satomi.

Published in Headliners

SPONSORED BY 234NAIRA.COM: Justice Lateefat Okunnu of a Lagos High Court, Ikeja, on Monday ordered the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, to keep a convicted oil magnate, Ada Ugo-Ndagi, under watch pending when she would be transferred to prison.

The judge also ordered the Medical Directors of Havana Hospital, Surulere and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), to both swear to an affidavit of means, clearly stating Ugo-Ndagi’s health status.

Justice Okunnu gave the orders following the oil magnate’s failure to appear in court on Monday for sentencing.

The court had on Friday convicted Mr. Walter Wagbasoma and Ugo-Ndagi, Chairman and Managing Director of Ontario oil and Gas Limited respectively, alongside their company for N754million subsidy fraud charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

At resumed proceedings of the court on Monday, Ugo-Ndagi, thorough her counsel, Mr. Y.A Kadiri, told the court that she was ill and has been hospitalised.

The woman slumped and fainted in the dock just when Justice Okunnu was about to pronounce her sentence on Friday.

Wagbatsoma was also not in court when the judge convicted them.

He was arrested in Germany for alleged involvement in a multi-million pounds sterling transaction.

He is presently in a United Kingdom prison in relation to the transaction.


Published in Business and Economy

SPONSORED BY HIRING234.COM: The abductors of students and members of staff of the Nigeria Turkish International College (NTIC) have demanded N1.2bn ransom for the victims to be released, it was learnt.

Reports say the abductors called a family member of one of the victims on Sunday to make the demand.

The police authorities confirmed that the gunmen invaded the school now changed to Tulip International School, and took the students and the teachers away in a white Toyota Hilux vehicle.

They were abducted at about 9:30pm on Friday, when the kidnappers dug through the fence and entered through a back door.

A source who confirmed the demand for ransome said, “They have been using the victims’ phone numbers to call their families. Each time the families try to negotiate, they would end the call.”

Daily Trust learnt that footage of the CCTV Cameras at the school hostel indicated that the kidnappers wore masks when they stormed the hostel. One of them reportedly wore skirt but he is suspected to be a man.

Among the victims were two Junior Secondary School (JSS) students, one Senior Secondary School (SSS) student, three Nigerian workers and two Turkish staff.

Representative of Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris, AIG Zone 2, Aderanti Kayode and Commissioner of Police, Ogun Command, llliyasu Ahmed had visited the school, saying the police authorities are on top of the situation.

The Ogun State government has also assured parents and relatives of the students and staff of the school of prompt action to ensure safe and immediate release of the kidnapped victims.

Deputy Governor, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga also visited the school.

Published in News & Stories

SPONSORED BY X365TV.COM: Ademola Lookman has scored his first goal for Everton as he made his debut for the English team today.  Lookman who was born in London, and is of Nigerian descent sealed a comprehensive victory for Everton over Man City as the match ended 4-0.

After the match Lookman stated in a brief chat that  he played to instructions from the his Coach.

He said: “The gaffer said I should play behind Romelu Lukaku and I was lucky to anticipate the ball.”

Meanwhile, goals from Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas, and Tom Davies leaves  City ten points behind Premier  League leaders Chelsea, while Everton cut their own gap to the Citizens to just nine points.

The new Everton winger, signed from Charlton for £11million last week, may have been starry eyed as he walked into the club’s Finch Park training base to see some of his idols.

But Lookman is on a mission to play right at the top and it  was not  b a bad start today as

boss Ronald Koeman  had revealed he will be involved against Manchester City.

Published in Sports

SPONSORED BY X365RADIO.COM: Spokesperson to Gambia’s president elect Adama Barrow has said on sunday that Barrow’s inauguration must hold on Jan 19 unfailingly

“Jammeh’s term shall end on the 19th and the same date president-elect Barrow’s term begins. Nothing will change that. He will be sworn in and shall assume office on that date without fail,” as revealed by spokesman Mai Fatty, who accompanied Barrow to Dakar.

Barrow flew into Dakar as requested by West African leaders AFP reports.

Published in Politics

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM...THE BUSINESS DIRECTORY: In preparation for a possible military action in the Gambia, defence chiefs from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Saturday met in Abuja.

The meeting hosted by Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin, took place at the Defence Headquarters.

Investigation reveled that the meeting was part of the preparation for the inauguration of an ECOWAS Military Intervention Group (ECOMIG) for the small West African country should President Yahya Jammeh makes real his threat not to step down when his tenure expires on January 19.

Jammeh lost the December 1 2016 election to Adama Barrow of the opposition.

Welcoming the participants and ECOWAS officials to Nigeria, Major-General Olonisakin expressed the readiness of regional leaders and military commanders to continue the pursuit of dialogue with the political leaders of Gambia and ensure peaceful transition of power in accordance with the Gambian’s constitution and the peoples will.

A source at the meeting revealed that a decision was taken that the defence chiefs should return to their various countries to prepare troops for possible deployment in Gambia.

A statement published on the website of the Defence Headquarters listed notable
dignitaries at the event to include the chairperson of ECOWAS Chief of Defence Staffs, Daniel Ziankahn of Liberia (Brigadier General); CH Gueye of Senegal; ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Hajiya Salamatu; Vice President of the Commission; the Ghanian Chief of Defence Staff and principal staff officers from Defence, Army, Navy, and Air Force headquarters.

ECOWAS had on Saturday vowed to to take all necessary actions to enforce the will of the Gambian people.

Published in Headliners
Page 5 of 12