Secret Reporters

When his older brother at Western Boys High School, Benin-City died in 1971, the 16 year-old Victor Ogiemwonyi who was in Form 3 at Eghosa Boys Grammer School Benin, made a vow not only to lead his household to the promise-land, but also to bring along all flatterers and cheerleaders.

And his first job was to manage briefly in 1975, his uncle’s petrol station at Mission Road  by Dawson Street, opposite the ancestral home of Chief Gauis Obaseki of Benin. He was shortly helped to Wilberforce University, Ohio USA in January 1976 but the paucity of funds forced him to relocate to Texas Southern Univ. Houston where school fees were far cheaper and the big city job opportunities were far higher. He graduated in 1979 in Accountancy and capped it up in 1981 with an MBA.

We have obtained his school transcripts and noted that the said financial whizkid was not exactly the intelligent student except in the final courses in Accounting. Our curiosity led us to investigate his unusual good performance in these latter Accounting courses; only to find out he was a close pal to the Accounting lecturer of those courses. No wonder his records in ICAN shows he woefully flunked ICAN professional examinations many times in Nigeria -Mr Lecturer was not anywhere to help him scale through. But he did scale through National Youth Service Corp -NYSC -as nobody ever really flunks the NYSC. He also scaled through the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) Lagos interview by whiskers where he actually started his working career.

And with the help of a Mr Aluyi, the Personnel Manager of Alibert Furnitures, Lagos, Victor opened a Cafeteria there with his cousin. That supplemented his meagre income at ITF. By the grace of his influential wife, a banker with an MBA too, he was sneaked into NAL Merchant Bank, Lagos in 1986 where he became exposed to Finance and Investments. He warmed up to the Banking Boys of the time in Lagos. And reaching the mountain top and into the skies became his new ambition.

Thus, by the middle of 1990, the plans to form Partnership Investments was being finalized at the office of Mr Osakwe Agbontaen, his printer pal at Onipan, Lagos as well as other joints of the Boys (Alan Omorogbe, Emman Aluyi, Kingsley Oghogho, Ernest Edonmwonya, Prince Eweka, Ernest Osagie etc) in Lagos and Benin-City. Finally, Partnership Investment was incorporated in 1991 and by February 1993, it has been registered by the Nigerian Securities Exchange Commission to perform Issuing House as well as Broker/Dealer functions of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. This was the noble beginning of Partnership Investment.

All was fair and good. By February 1998, Partnership opened a branch office in Benin-city at 1, Gulf Course Road signaling the real beginning of inglorious trend of questionable operations and reckless expenditures of funds.

The questionable operational activities and expenditures included un-authorized sales of shares, non-remittance of proceeds of sales of shares, with-holding of dividends and other benefits, failure/refusal to liquidate investments into special schemes floated. The Schemes founded to perpetuate the fraud include Managed Investment Deposit Account  (MIDAS), Partnership Opportunity Fund (POPFUND), Partnership Securities Deposit Account (PSDA), Partnership Capital Management Ltd, Micro-Credit Schemes and others. Even the Securities Brokerage Account (SBA), the main activity of Partnership was fraught with irregularities.

Partnership that became a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1995, expanded too rapidly especially with its low calibre of inefficient managers. From only ten employees in 1991, its personnel rose to over 100 in less than 20 years of its specilized close-circuit financial activities. Offices were extended not only to Benin, but also to Abuja and Port Harcourt.

Partnership became too large to be controlled by its largely untrained and unprofessional staff. It became a liquid venture awashed with constant inflow of short-term funds of depositors and investors which management was investing on long-term economic assets and personal aggrandizement. Partnership made tons of money in co-managing the raising of new equity of N1.5 billion for New Nigerian Bank in 2001. It was also the Chief Consultant to Edo State  Micro-Credit Scheme; an avenue from where Partnership subsidiary SBDC Mico-Finance Company sprang to life. Mr Ogiemwonyi had more than good patronage from Edo State Government of Governor Igbinedion. These were the good days before the bubble burst.

The Central Bank of Nigeria through its Financial Institute Supervisory Dept. (OFISD) started co-ordinating a joint examination on the activities of Partnership. And the Securities Economic Commission also launched an official investigation (SEC/ENF/INIV/CMOF/4284/16) into Partnership activities. The investigation culminated on a three-page publication in the NATION newspaper of Friday, May 20, 2017 titled ”Memorandum of Facts” where over 66 facts of their investigations were itemized.

The story continues…


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