Just like many who fell to the wily ways of disgraced former chairman of Skye Bank Plc, Tunde Ayeni, one of Nigeria’s foremost businessmen and founder and chairman of the Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko, discovered his (Ayeni) true nature when it was a tad too late.
The Forbes-rated billionaire and former chairman of FBN Holdings PLC had almost sealed a multibillion naira deal involving the take-over of ALCON Nig. LTD, a Port-Harcourt-based Engineering, Procurement, Construction (EPC) Contracting company. ALCON, with over 35 years of experience, is regarded as a highly esteemed organization providing services in the civil, mechanical, electrical and instrumentation fields with excellent performance and sound proven records of projects executed and under execution.
The deal looked like it was dropping on Otudeko’s laps and everybody around him saw it as the perfect icing on the cake of his many lucrative investments. Then, like a bolt from the blues, Ayeni emerged and bought over the company. It was a major business coup that had the old man reeling. He has not forgiven or forgotten that deep cut inflicted on him by a supposed younger friend. And it is one reason he has told anybody who cares to listen that Ayeni is like a devil and whoever wants to dine with him must come with a long spoon.
Effectively, Ayeni destroyed whatever pre-existing or prospective relationship Otudeko had with the company, just like he destroyed Aso Savings and Loans. It would be recalled that the financial services institution providing mortgage banking products and services was brought to its knees by Ayeni who was a majority shareholder and chairman of the institution before he was sacked. Among other offences bordering on money laundering and financial impropriety, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in 2015, arrested Ayeni for fraud involving the former Minister of FCT, Bala Mohammed. He was asked to refund the N1billion his bank allegedly passed to Mr. Mohammed in unclear circumstances.
He was also accused of hiding N9.8bn belonging to the Federal Government of Nigeria. According to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the money, realised from the sale of government assets, was illegally deposited in Aso Savings and Loans Plc which he embezzled.