Ade Bendel mi, olo lo lo ooo, (My dear Ade Bendel)
Ade o lo lolo lolo! O lo lo lolo!
Ade ma ba e re ilu Owan l’Edo, (Ade, I will accompany you to Owan in Edo State)
Olo olo olo!
Ade Bendel, kini to pe o bunmi nko, (Ade Bendel, what of the thing you promised to give me?)
Abo ni bunmi mo? (Or you will not be giving me anymore?)
O sha numi o bunmi…(Please have pity on me and give me)
Amin o, omo ni o jogun e…(Amen, may your children inherit you)…
-Nigerian musician, Wasiu Ayinde Marshal, singing praises of Ade Bendel in the album that he dedicated to him. The album was named CONSOLIDATION.
In the past, Nigeria was teeming with a very curious breed of criminals. And I don’t mean your regular pickpockets or fake gold grifters. They were the head honchos of a ruined system, ruthless mafia lords of the sleazy world of gbajue. I am referring to intercontinental fraudsters, GPRS criminals so advanced that they actually had access to the Presidency and were so sophisticated they bankrupted an entire national bank to the tune of over $200 million. They were the flashiest socialites in town, wore the most sparkling of jewelry, dated the classiest people in the society, hired the best musicians and at their rumbustious parties, you will see the finest French cognacs wasted like water.
They lived life to the fullest. They were the dorobuccis: smart, smooth-talking, convincing and supremely intelligent moneybags, so great was their slyness that they were part and parcel of the big enchiladas. That was in the past. Now, this is the present. Well, not much has changed and it even seems they have switched from analogue to the digital mode. You know, talk of upgrading and adapting to the times. These criminals are still very much around, reaping the bitter-sweet fruits of their poisoned orchards. As for the future, it is my hope that the current-generation Yahoo-Yahoo boys, the grandsons of the 419 godfathers of yesterday (even if they can never make as much money as Mark Zuckerberg unless they defraud the US Treasury) do not continue to smear what is left of Nigeria’s tattered flag and battered image. Hmmm, Ade Bendel.
Here is the story of the one man who rocked (still kinda rocking) the Nigerian society with his audacious moves in that shady world of scams and advance fee frauds. Before I continue, let me state clearly that he was not alone in this messy trade or other really controversial businesses like drug smuggling. ‘Barrister’ Fred Ajudua, Dele Ilori, Oloruntoyin Akindele Ikumoluyi aka Akindele Ile Eru, Ikechukwu Anajemba aka Rasheed Gomwalk, Amaka ‘The Queen’ Anajemba, Emmanuel Nwude-Odenigwe (aka Owelle of Abanga), Femi Abiodun Lekuti aka Danku Baba Imole, Lanre Shittu, Sanjay Oloruntoyin, Kenneth and Princess Hamabon William are some of those that also totally wrecked the image of the world’s most populous black nation as they went all over painting the Blue Planet red with their kleptomaniac tendencies. Not a few of them were locked up at the Awolowo Road Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission during a ruthless drive against corruption under the Obasanjo presidency. Obviously, apart from sports, another ‘job’ that has ‘federal character’ in Nigeria cutting across tribes is fraud. But for today, the zoom lenses will be on Ade. The story of Ade Bendel.
BACKGROUND AND EARLY DAYS
Born as Adedeji Alumile (Ademiluyi Elumalu) in Ibadan, Oyo State in 1966 (some reports indicate 1964), he hails from a small sleepy town named Hiveevie in Owan Local Government Area of Edo State. Ade Bendel is the most (in)famous product of this obscure town. He was put in school but for reasons that are still somewhat cloudy, he dropped out from the primary school and later landed in Lagos State in search of ‘greener pasture’. While young, his friends were reported to have said that Ade Bendel always nursed the dream of hitting it big someday.
LOVE, ROMANCE, FAMILY AND MARRIAGE
-A lover of women, especially ladies between 18 – 23 years of age (he was said not be into married or old women), he had his bevy of pretty ladies all around him. He was the toast of society and entertainment magazines in Lagos State. However, he is married to Bola Yinka Alumile, an educated woman (his children were named David and Gbenga Michael) who was said to have advised him to set up his own media outfit so as to ‘rebrand’ his business in another light and deflect criticism or tackle opponents. He agreed to this idea and launched Evening Express in a high-octane event in 1999. You will later read in this story of what became of the paper.
THE DAYS OF CRIME, FRAUD AND SCAMMING
It is not clear precisely when Ade Bendel started his journey into the world of fraud, but by 1992, he was already at the top of the ladder, rubbing shoulders with fellows like Toyin Igbira, Tulamania and Eko Round City. By 1994, he was the clear leader, and even as other fraudsters and drug barons were steadily declining, Ade Bendel kept making more money. He was so successful with his money-raking ventures that by 1995, he had attracted the attention of the Sani Abacha government and he would be detained severally by the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) which was then led by General Musa Bamaiyi. He was a regular guest at the NDLEA Ikoyi office where he told them plainly that he was not into drugs but he was a ‘deals man’. When he could not bear the Abacha heat anymore, he fled to Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) and then later returned to chill out in Ibadan for a while. He was always on the move.
In Ibadan, he bought a palatial residence and wanted the street to be named after him, he went ahead and name the street after himself but the owner vigorously kicked against it, even when Ade Bendel reportedly offered him a sum of one million naira. After living in what was described as a self-imposed exile in Ibadan, he left for his usual base –Lagos, and it was business as usual. But it was not long before he ran into trouble again. In 1997, he was nabbed by the Federal Criminal Investigations Bureau (FCIB), Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos following the petition by a victim but he managed to go free, returned to his business and even made spectacular gains. The gains were so much that he left his home located on Talabi Street, off Adeniyi Jones Avenue and moved into a twin duplex in Victoria Garden City. He forked out N25 million for the new building without breaking a sweat. Then he transformed his former residence to a guest house. Thereafter, he purchased two other houses on Victoria Island and these were to be used as his ‘consultancy offices’.
At the peak of his nefarious career, Ade Bendel was praised to the highest heavens by Nigerian musicians and entertainers. So sonorous were those songs that the angels of heaven must have felt some tinge of jealousy. King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal, the talazo crooner, was one of those who almost went hoarse as he strained his vocal cords to praise Ade Bendel and his cohorts for some bucks. Well, Ayinde Omo Anifowoshe was just doing his own job, abirukileyii gan…lol. However, in a country where no one bothers to ask any questions, it is easy for any bandit to be elevated to sainthood.
-Ade Bendel duped locally and internationally. Back at home, one of those that he ‘washed’ and ‘dried’ was Abba Kyari, a retired brigadier general of the Nigerian Army and the former governor of the old North-Central State in 1999. Lobatan. Ade Bendel duped this gullible general of an amount you will not believe: N500 million naira. Ade Bendel approached the gullible Kyari and told him of a wonderful business opportunity that would soon spin billions of profits only if he would invest. Kyari too fell for the offer and dropped half a billion naira and he crossed his legs in his house calmly waiting for the promised profits. By the time he realized that he had been properly swindled, it was too late. Ade Bendel was already all over the town celebrating his latest catch. At a naming ceremony at the residence of one of his friends in Iyana Ipaja in Lagos State, he obliterated the host when he started spraying money with reckless abandon. After all, it was free money, kinda, and the magas will always pay since a sucker is actually born every minute. As long as there are greedy mugus and unthinking magas, there will always be swindlers and fraudsters.
A flummoxed Kyari could not shout and scream out of shame that the whole nation would revel at such legendary stupidity and greed, so the former military governor just kept the story to himself and could not summon enough courage to approach the police and file a report. He leaked his wounds in private but something later happened and the bubble burst.
One of the friends of the former governor could not just watch Kyari as he sunk into depression. He went straight to the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force and filed a report on behalf of Kyari. Hmmm…N500million naira. Issokay, continue. All I will say on that one is that #TIGO. Anyways, after the report was filed, the Nigerian Police launched a manhunt for Ade Bendel who was later arrested, interrogated and then detained on the Kyari case. But as usual, he was released a few days later. Yes, he was that connected. After his release, he left the country for the Netherlands where he spent a couple of weeks and then returned to Nigeria where he kept a relatively low profile for a while but his business continued.
-But Kyari was not the only one stung by Ade Bendel. There was a man called Sheikh Abdul-Jabar Balogun (if you listen to Lanrewaju Adepoju’s tapes, you will recall Abudujabaru right away). Anyway, Sheikh Abdul-Jabar Balogun was based in Epe, Lagos State and when General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida was the military president of this great nation, he patronized a number of spiritualists and marabouts who advised him and said they prayed to keep him in power. The Sheikh made some good money from the services he rendered to Babangida but by the time Ade Bendel finished dealing with the Sheikh, he would be wondering the kind of truck that hit him. He was comprehensively duped, and a man that said he could see the future for Babangida could not even see through Ade Bendel’s trickery. Sheikh Abdul-Jabar Balogun wanted to buy a ship and he consulted with one of his friends, a well-known socialite (later joined politics) and incidentally, was a mutual friend of Ade Bendel. They told the Sheikh that Ade Bendel would facilitate the deal and get the ship purchased.
The Sheikh was sweet-talked into paying N70 million naira. After dropping the money, Abdul-Jabar got a message that the N70 million naira was not enough. But the Sheikh was already down to his last penny. Then Ade Bendel came up with another masterstroke of his cruel ingenuity: he advised Abdul-Jabar to sell some of his exotic cars to quickly make the payment. To worsen the matters and add seasoning to the soup well well, the cleric too was in a hurry to get his ship but there were no available buyers that could purchase quickly. Ade Bendel offered to ‘help’ again and without thinking, Abdul-Jabar Balogun, the alfa from Epe handed over 15 cars to the con men. At the end of the day, after dropping N70 million and 15 cars, Sheikh did not even see the spare part of a canoe, not to talk of a ship. That was the beginning of the end of one of Nigeria’s most prominent clerics and pushed him to the very edge of extinction. Today, few people know him, only those who were very current during Babangida’s era will clearly remember this particular cleric who was cleanly emasculated by Ade Bendel.
-But that was not all o. You know sey dem dey always talk sey Warri no dey carry last? Warri carry last for Ade Bendel hand. In 1998, two rich and influential Warri indigenes were gbaju-ed by Ade Bendel. Warri is a major town in Nigeria’s oil-rich state of Delta (which was later ruled by another major fraudster now in a British jail). One of the two Warri indigenes owned a plastic industry and he was coerced into paying Ade Bendel a sum of N11 million for a sketchy business transaction. He did not see a kobo in return from Ade Bendel. But he was very lucky o, his other Warri kinsman was swindled out of a blinding sum of N250 million. While hitting these big jackpots, Ade was also doing other smaller runs, that fetched him sums in the range of N5-10 million naira. Ade Bendel, as hinted earlier, did not limit his fraudulent activities to Nigeria, he diversified his economy and internationalized his dastardly trade. He would promise unsuspecting but greedy foreigners of incredibly lucrative investment deals in Nigeria. He sent fake letters that proclaimed his ‘high connections’ and abilities to land any deal in oil-rich Nigeria.
THE DAYS OF ENJOYMENT AND PLEASURE
Unlike the other swindlers who prefer to keep everything on a low-key and operate beneath the radar, Ade Bendel was the complete opposite. He operated in the full glare of the public. He loved the paparazzi and was intoxicated with publicity. On the 12th of December, 1999, he threw what is now one of the biggest parties in Nigerian history. The kind of party that will make even the late Ezego of Ihiala go green with envy. The venue was the town of Hiveevie and the event was the burial ceremony of his maternal grandfather, and the moneybag was determined to shake the small town to its very foundation by spending to the very last. As I am writing this, that burial remains one of the most talked-about burials in Edo State.
At that time, he was just aged 35, very youthful, bubbly and energetic. He stormed the town with the swagger of a drug lord, confident in his vaults of endless cash. Because he was based in Lagos State, he hired some of the best musicians from that region, and that included his longtime entertainer, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal (KWAM 1, now referred to as K1 the Ultimate), Daddy Showkey, the galala crooner from Ajegunle, Sir Shina Peters, the Afro Juju exponent and Wale Thompson who was then an upcoming artiste. In short, a total of seven musicians were shipped into the town and a sum of N5 million naira was set aside to pamper them. They were all to set the small town on fire and they sure threw more than ‘bangers’. Many of Ade Bendel’s friends and acolytes, many of whom were Lagos-based, trooped into Edo State with some of the ‘baddest’ automobiles on the ‘sickest’ wheels. Not a few Nigerians were oppressed and mesmerized at the same time. The hamlet had never seen such sudden influx of wealth before in its history. But then, Ade Bendel’s mother had just lost her father and the heavens must know his grandson was a wealthy dude.
To provide the rentals was Laurie B Rentals, also based in Lagos. They were to handle the tents, canopies, tables, chairs and food to be consumed by the high-class guests expected at the event. The hospitality outfit had to roll in a whole freezer truck all the way from Lagos, full of all kinds of drinks, from juices to wines. Ade Bendel shelled out a kingly sum of N60 million for that aspect alone. Laurie B Rentals surely hit the jackpot that day.
In no time, the party started that evening and the musicians were sprayed continuously with wads of currencies. But something interesting happened. Ade Bendel and his friends did not ‘disgrace’ the entertainers with the Nigerian naira. On the dance floor, they brought shame to the British pound sterling and the American dollar as they rained these foreign currencies endlessly.
Ade Bendel could not hide his excitement and he swayed his big frame to the beats of Wasiu Ayinde. He danced his heart out, with a glass of swirling champagne in his hand, rolling and smoking expensive cigars lit by golden lighters as he wished. But as the high-spirited Ade Bendel danced on, others joined in the frenzy but the strange thing was that no one knew or could point to any particular business that had brought the son of the soil so much money. No one cared to know. As for the good people of Hiveevie, all that mattered was that they had a son who was very ‘successful’ in Lagos. And they could only pray to Osanobuwa to keep blessing him.
CLASH WITH THE LAW
-In September 2000, President Olusegun Obasanjo would declare a very vicious war on all fraudsters and advance fee fraud scammers. It seemed for a moment like the sun was about to set on Ade Bendel. That month, he was arrested by the International Police (INTERPOL) and slammed behind bars at the Ikoyi Prison, Lagos where he chilled off in Cell 7.751709. Later, he was whisked off to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. The precise reason why he was arrested at that time was not known but it was gathered that it was due to the relentless petitions fired to the Presidency by foreigners, particularly American businessmen who got more than a copious dose of Ade Bendel’s bitter pill. As at 2000, Americans had lost about $10 billion to Nigerian con artists like Ade B and the US government was not taking the issue lightly with Aso Rock. The pressure was piled on and a beleaguered Obasanjo presidency had to do something, at least, and an arrest and eventual prosecution of the most well-known fraudster in the land will surely send a strong message to the international community that the new democratic government meant business and was surely going to combat corruption. The two governments agreed to partner and work on advance fee fraud, money laundering and the lingering international drug trade in which Nigeria was used as a transit country. But Ade Bendel is no small boy in the business. Before his arrest, he had just successfully ‘washed and dried’ a retired military officer of a princely sum of N14 million naira. That case hook am for throat like sabalo bone and he was dragged to court which ordered that he be remanded in jail but he agreed to refund the money to the officer.
-After many years of disturbing the peace of the society and escaping numerous times, sending many to early graves with his callous actions and sentencing many more to a life of penury and abject poverty, the not-so-long arm of the Nigerian law caught up with Ade Bendel. In December, 2007, a high court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos sentenced the well-fed dude to six years imprisonment. The judge was Justice Mufutau Olokooba who described Ade Bendel as an ‘embarrassment to the nation’. The judge said:
‘The offence is an international embarrassment to the nation and the courts do not have no mercy for such offence. To serve as deterrent to present generation and upcoming generation. Not giving the accused a full weight of the law is inappropriate, I hereby sentence the accused to six years imprisonment on one charge.’
But why? He had defrauded a retired general in the Egyptian Armed Forces, Abdel Azim Attia, of over $605,000 (about N97 million) in 2003. The poor general said that he met Ade Bendel in Saudi Arabia and he took him as a good Muslim brother that he could do business with. Ade Bendel (who reportedly posed as Dr. Ibrahim Ahmed) sold the idea of a phony agricultural venture to the retired general who was enticed by promises of profits of half a billion dollars, once he invested in the deal. 65-year-old Attia initially paid $300,000 to his ‘business partners’ and he was shocked with the speed with which the money vanished. But not done sucking him yet, they told him that in order for the $500 million to be transferred to his account, he had to pay another $200,000 for the transfer to be facilitated, which he paid. By the time the general would realize the game, Ade Bendel had already duped him of close to N100 million. The Egyptian general could not swallow it anymore and fired a petition which interestingly led to case that eventually had Ade Bendel jailed.
Obviously, cluelessness in the military is not geography-limited if you know what I mean. Anyway, while another Egyptian general is now very well on his way to becoming the president of the largest nation in the Arab world, this particular general was duped because he was greedy enough to believe that after paying over half a million dollars, half a billion dollars would be wired to his account for the supply of agricultural equipment. That reminds me of a quote: the honest ones do not get swindled.
In 2003, not a few Nigerians were tired and frustrated with the activities of these fraudsters. Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka said at that time on the issue: ” I want to call on the Obasanjo government to explore all possible avenues to ensure that activities of advanced fee fraudsters are curtailed. It is embarassing and works against the efforts of genuine Nigerian businessmen and women.”
FINAL ARREST AND INCARCERATION
In May 2003, the arrest of Ade Bendel was quite a dramatic one. The Federal Government had renewed its drive to clamp down on financial crime kingpins and the search was on Ade Bendel. It was on a Friday and the ‘big man’ had not returned to his house, he was busy outside enjoying the evening. By 5.am the next morning, operatives from the Economic and Financial Crimea Commission (EFCC) stealthily surrounded his residence at the palatial Victoria Garden City in Lagos. They then subdued the security men at the gate and entered the expansive residence. Unfortunately for the EFCC operatives, their intelligence was off course because Ade Bendel was not even at home, only his terrified wife and kids were at home. Before long, they got Ade Bendel the Big Fish on phone but he simply scoffed at the EFCC and he felt that it was business as usual, that after a few calls he would be released. He was so confident of himself that he drove himself right back home where he was arrested without delay. But he was wrong this time, as his calls would not save him from jail.
He was later held at the Milverton, Ikoyi Headquarters of the Special Anti-Fraud Unit before prosecution and eventual incarceration. But because he was in detention since 2003 and the judge handed a six-year sentence in 2007, he had already served out almost all the term. His lawyer, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, had defended him court saying he was a first-time offender and that the accused had already made full restitution and paid $200,000 to the complainant via the EFCC and that it was vital that Ade Bendel be given full rehabilitation and that the offence for which he was found guilty has a maximum sentence of seven years. (At another period, Ade Bendel’s counsel was Festus Keyamo, at least as at June 2003).
-In June 2003, he was arraigned separately on two-count charges of conspiracy and obtaining money with the intent to defraud Remmy Hendrick Iniqi Cima of Germany of the sum of $1,698,380 under false pretence that the money represented payments that were to be made to government officials for the payment of $18 million for a contract.
He had been arrested in May 2003 and charged alongside one Chief Olafemi Ayeni (aged 43 in October 2003, hails from Ilesha, Osun State) who claimed to own a global company called Worldwide that was in charge of United States currency. It was said that when Ade Bendel and Ayeni got to Attia’s office, they said they would need some money to buy some chemicals to wash the security covers from the notes in the box and Attia parted gave them money to buy the so-called chemicals only for him to realize later that there were no chemicals and he had been cheated. The Egyptian general too was in court and he lavished praises on the EFCC and the court for a job well done. Ade Bendel had pleaded not guilty but later amended the plea and pleaded guilty with an agreement with the EFCC to refund the money.
He was eventually to serve his jail term at the Kirikiri Maximum Prison where he was locked up in a private cell at Block 2. While in prison, Ade Bendel was never far from a copy of the Holy Bible and claimed that he was visited by a spirit from high above and that he was becoming a ‘born-again’ Christian. I just hope the accounts of those defrauded will also resurrect again. He was also reported to have run a small ‘church’ inside the prison where he spread the gospel to other inmates and was even said to have become a sudden philanthropist feeding his other inmates. But it must also be pointed out that in 2002 before he was finally arrested, he was said to have told his friends that he was leaving the business for good since the Holy Spirit has ‘arrested’ him after attending a church service.
Upon release, Ade Bendel went ahead to organize various religious crusades with Nigerian entertainers like Dbanj where he preached in March 2008 to those curious enough, interested enough or free enough to listen to his brand of the gospel. In his first major crusade on the 24th of March, 2008 at the Eleko Beach in Lagos, he narrated how he ‘met’ God while in prison and also said all other usual stuff of old things passing away and the rest. Some believe he has really changed for the better and will emphatically defend the newly-minted angel, even Dbanj was said to have burst into tears at Ade Bendel’s press conference when he reeled out what Nigerians refer to as ‘testimonies’, some also argued that he deserves a second term, sorry, chance, but I am pretty sure that does not include those who lost their life savings, or worse still, their lives to his exploits, who sadly, will never get a second chance. And…okay, I will swallow this one.
ADE BENDEL TODAY
In March 2008, he declared that he was now a pastor and that old things have passed away. He said the focus of his life now was on how to get more people to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Anyways, how about returning some of the victims’ money, abi that one no matter? Anyways, he made the announcement at Terra Kulture where he held a press conference and shared his testimony. Many people present there were said to have been moved to tears and that included Nigerian musician, D’banj. He said:
“I am ready to support his new cause wholeheartedly. There was a day in prison, I met two youth between the ages of 18 and 20.They hailed me as Baba Ade Bendel.They told me I was their hero. When I asked what brought them into prison custody, they told me that they were into 419 (swindling people of their hard earned money).They also said that very soon they hope to be like me. That day, I broke down in tears. How can I be a hero destroying lives. A hero sending people that you dupe of their money to untimely death. I told God that if you give me the opportunity, I will serve you for the rest of my life.”
The press conference was tagged ‘Turning Point with Ade Bendel and Friends’.
INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT ADE BENDEL
-Ade Bendel could spend money in the most unrestrained manner and for those who were close to him, he was the real rainmaker as far as spending money was concerned. In 1998, he was at Car Link, a well-known automobile shop on Aromire Avenue in Ikeja, Lagos State to get himself a nice ride. As he was about to make his purchase, an old friend of his who was inside a commuter bus passing by noticed Ade Bendel and he promptly jumped down from the bus to say hello to his now wealthy friend that he had not seen for so many years. The two friends, who were once living in poverty together, exchanged pleasantries and Ade Bendel did the unthinkable: he gave his friend a gift, and it was a car worth an estimated N3 million naira. And after buying that for his car, he selected a Mercedes Benz for himself. He dropped N11 million for the German baby that he just acquired.
-In order to ensure that he was not prosecuted and kept safe from the arms of the law, Ade Bendel bribed whoever was bribable, and that included the former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun, who collected N15 million from Ade Bendel so as to ensure that his file will forever be missing…lol! Tafa Balogun also collected N20 million from Fred Ajudua and an eye-popping N350 million from Emmanuel Nwude (both are another notorious fraudsters in their own class) so as to keep them away from the prying eyes of the law.
-At the height of his troubles with the law, it was said that he was so used to getting arrested, freed and then rearrested again that he became a regular guest at various police stations. He was described as visiting the police stations more than he does the toilet every single month.
-In July 2003, Ade Bendel was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Why? The EFCC accused the grandmaster of swindling himself of being involved in a criminal conspiracy and obtaining the sum of $7,855,500 and another N3 million naira from a Nigerian while Ade Bendel was still an inmate serving his term at Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Lagos. Obviously, that is no maximum security natin. Nigeria or more precisely, the Nigerian system, reeks of stench to the high heavens.
-Ade Bendel is a lover of cars. As at 2000, his garage was stocked with the best of Rolls Royces, Jaguars, Lexus jeeps, Lincoln Navigators, Cherokee jeeps, Mercedes Benz and Nissan Pathfinders. And whenever he moved around town, he did so in a convoy of at least seven cars. He was particularly in love with a metallic-grey 1999 Jaguar. And eh, wait for this: his own personal security was made up of battle-ready men from the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), which ironically, was an anti-crime agency owned by the Lagos State Government. If he still enjoys such VIP protection now, that’d not be any surprise.
-He loved partying hard and wild. His Ikeja Government Reserved Area (GRA) was a base for his raunchy parties full of luscious girls, praise-singing musicians and lots of booze. He did not pretend that his own paradise was in heaven. He lived it right here on earth –in Lagos.
-His circle of friends included the late Federal House of Representatives member, Maurice Ibekwe (he later died in EFCC custody while being investigated on fraud charges), Godwin Anabor (publisher of the wildly-popular Hints magazine), Toyin Igbira (one of Nigeria’s most notorious drug baronesses), Mr. Christian Van Dressien (former Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria), Dare Babs, Tunde Adaba and Shina One One. Other associates include Abayomi Fetusi (the brain behind Talkland Nigeria Limited), Tunde Atobatele (owner of Judanic Autos on Allen Avenue in Ikeja), Osare Onaiwu (his media adviser and consultant), Kenny Duyile (publisher of Celebrity Mirror), Otunba Abimbola Davies and many others that rocked the Lagos high society. Ade Bendel and Otunba Abimbola Davies would later separate after a dirty fight over money concerning Evening Express, a tabloid Ade Bendel was financing. Now, let’s talk about that tabloid of his.
-In 1999, the Evening Express, Ade Bendel’s propaganda publication was launched amidst much fanfare in Lagos State. Nice cars and hefty salary packages were used to seduce journalists and writers from the other more established media companies. His friend, Otunba Abimbola Davies (a member of Senator Arthur Nzeribe’s Association for Better Nigeria, ABN) was given the task of fishing for the journalists and also devising an advertising strategy that would bring money and expand their media business. However, things would soon fall apart between the duo. Ade Bendel suspected that Davies was ripping him off on the costs and he became enraged. He blasted Davies to his face and the other guy dumped the media business altogether. And it was not too long before Ade Bendel played a fast one on his employees. Salaries went unpaid, workers grumbled as Ade Bendel lived large but they were labouring on empty stomach. When they could not keep up with the empty promises anymore, they downed tools and his media empire crumbled even before it took barely off. Three months of salaries were not paid, the workers begged him to no avail. They had been mugu-ed and maga-ed by Nigeria’s number one mugu-maga machine.
–During the short-lived period of his publication, insiders alleged that Ade Bendel would tell them to write disparaging stories on wealthy and retired generals of the Nigerian Army, who will then approach him as the publisher to take down the damaging stories. By doing so, they insist, Ade Bendel would be able to identify those that were ripe for scamming. He also prohibited any of his media staff from touching his fax machine with the exception of his younger brother. The fax machine was the conduit for messages to and from countries like the United States of America where his foreign magas and business associates, if we can call them that, stayed.
-He was said to have invested in the building of a three-star hotel (probably the Ace Hotel) in Ogun State and he is also believed to have bought another residence in Agbara, Ogun State.
-The jagajaga musician and a perennial foe of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Eedris Abdulkarim also sang some lines referring to Ade the Bendelite.
-A prison chapel was built at Kirikiri by Ade Bendel.
-In an interview in May 2002, at the launch of a magazine, Ade Bendel told journalists that he was quitting the business for good and would dedicate his life to serving the Good Lord. Interesting.
-In December 2013, his name was also mentioned in the case of how a former Nigerian Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major-General Ishaya Bamaiyi, was defrauded to the tune of $8.395 million (over N1.2 billion naira). Actually, I never knew the Nigerian military was that lucrative or how on earth did an African general lay his hands on what Admiral Mike Mullen can only dream of? Oh, you know better. But wait a min, that’s not all. The most interesting part of the case was that it was alleged that Ajudua, Bendel and others defrauded Bamaiyi of the said sum while they were all at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, and the money in question was said to have been used to bribe one of the judges handling Bamaiyi’s case. Atimes, it feels like giving up on this country but I won’t. We should not. Just imagine what goes on behind the walls of Nigeria’s largest prison, and that is if we do not consider Nigeria itself a jail. And by the way, what is it with these African generals getting swindled by scammers time and time again? I thought some high IQ or at least an impressive display of sagacity, precise sense of good judgment and intellectual firepower were supposed to be basic requirements for becoming a general. Or are we just misidentifying the real geniuses in the nation?
The day we start vilifying crimes, criminalities and criminals, this nation will edge closer to greatness. The day we start shunning filthy lucre is the day we start marching on to regaining global respect. I gotta to go now. By the way, I am looking for a slim fella like that. He sounds like a cockatoo and his name is Facrook. Any clues anyone? You might want to check your cap. Catch ya leiraz. Nah, not on Alcatraz.