BY TUNDE ODESOLA
Globally, crime is the fugitive that lurks behind every insane quest for money, power and drugs. In most underdeveloped countries, Nigeria inclusive, crime walks unashamedly naked, bigger than the aforementioned threesome, bending the arms of the law over backwards like a twisted branch of a tree. In developed countries, however, crime – silent and unobtrusive – works hand in glove with money, power and drugs, wreaking havoc like cancer.
Let’s talk about numbers. For certain, three is a very powerful number in the physical and metaphysical realms. The integrality of three is universally seen in the body, spirit and soul composition of man, and in the three elements that make up the world – heaven, earth and water, as well as the division of day into morning, afternoon and night. When something happens three times, it’s neither a mistake nor a coincidence.
In Christian orthodoxy, the oneness of God the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit in a blessed threeness summarises the sojourn of man, his fall, and salvation. The horn-headed Lucifer tempted Christ thrice. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.
Trinity as a symbol has universal significance. Traditional religion worshippers offer sacrifices to the gods at junctions where three footpaths meet. Every tribe has their own worldview about the perfection of number three. The Yoruba would say, “aro meta kii d’obe nu,” in agreement with the perfection of the trinity.
Even the late British naval intelligence officer, journalist and writer, Ian Fleming, renowned for his James Bond 007 series of spy novels, buttressed the unignorable importance of three as a number, saying, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”
Last week, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency quizzed 46-year-old internet celebrity, Obinna Iyiegbu, aka Obi Cubana, over the payment of THREE different tranches of money by drug pushers convicted in New Delhi, India; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Lagos, Nigeria, into his various bank accounts.
Cubana inherited no fortune from his parents, just like his trusted 40-year-old second-in-command, Pascal Chibuike Okechukwu, aka Cubana Chief Priest, who was a shoemaker in Aba, Abia State, with his father, a few years ago.
Cubana graduated with a B.A in Political Science from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1998, served in the National Youth Service Corps in 1999, and barely six years later, he had become a multi-billionaire in Nigerian currency, founding Ibiza Nightclub in Abuja.
From my findings over the weekend, Cubana came under the radar of security agencies when foreign intelligence services, in partnership with their Nigerian counterparts, established that THREE drug convicts separately paid various sums of money into his accounts.
A highly placed security source disclosed to me, “He (Cubana) has been under secret investigations for months based on what our foreign partners shared with us concerning the details of payments into his accounts by convicted drug pushers.
“Coincidentally, the NDLEA was the agency that arrested one of the drug pushers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, in 2016, securing conviction against the drug pusher in 2017.
“Apart from the NDLEA case against him, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is also looking into money laundering allegations against him. That was the reason why the EFCC also invited him.”
Eehhh! Mba! Mba! Mba! Cubana isn’t guilty of dealing drugs yet. He remains innocent until found guilty by a law court. The money paid into his accounts by the three drug convicts could be money for lifetime accommodations in any of his hotels in Lagos, Abuja, Owerri, Enugu and Port Harcourt.
Cubana is street-wise. He defended himself in an Instagram interview with On-Air Personality, Daddy Freeze, on Saturday. But his defence was the most devious sleight of the tongue.
Cubana said, “I was in detention for four days and three nights. I didn’t feel bad because I knew the agency would do a thorough job and if I am cleared, I’d be let go (sic). There was no witch-hunt, nobody was after me. But to link me to drugs? I’ve never felt so low. To me, it’s repulsive.”
He continued, “I was never accused. I was never linked to anything but they said somebody paid money into my account, and I believe that the agency in question is a very responsible one. I know that at the end of the day, they would make their findings public.”
For me, there goes the stupidest defence since wanted-for-crime Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, alleged witch-hunt after collecting $20,600 from internet bandit, Abbas Ramon, alias Hushpuppi, to silence a smaller internet robber, Chibuzo Kelly Vincent, who threatened to expose a $1.1m fraud Hushpuppi was set to commit against a Qatari businessman. Kyari had hushed Vincent into silence by putting him behind bars and instilling fear in him, thus clearing the way for Hushpuppi to go ahead and defraud the Qatari.
For a celebrity role model with 2.5 million Instagram and 1.9 million Facebook fans to admit in an interview that he was linked to drugs, and to say in the same interview he was never accused, never linked to anything, was a dirty slap on the faces of his fans who he’s taking for idiots.
What Cubana probably wants his fans to believe is that he spent four days and three nights in NDLEA detention teaching the chairman of the agency, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (retd.) how to slaughter 500 cows for suya, juggle wads of naira notes with the feet, and stone friends with bales of foreign currencies.
In the Instagram interview, Cubana was careful not to condemn the NDLEA that detained him (an innocent man) for four days. I had expected Cubana not to be vague, and to disclose what he sold to or brought from the three drug convicts that warranted them paying monies into his accounts.
If the NDLEA detains a small me for ONE day and the EFCC quizzes me on allegations of drug and money laundering, I’ll demand unreserved apologies from both agencies, and head to court if they fail to apologise.
For someone in the hospitality business, drug and money laundering allegations would hurt Cubana’s brand as millions of rich Nigerian customers who stream into his hotels daily are likely not to want to associate with a patron alleged to have links with drugs and money laundering.
The crazy way millions of Nigerian youths idolise get-rich-quick celebrities has fuelled crimes such as Yahoo-Yahoo, ritualism, kidnapping, drug peddling, armed robbery etc. Poverty, unemployment and lack of life-changing opportunities occasioned by bad governance have imperilled Nigeria’s youths, exposing them to crime.
Unfortunately, instead of laying good example by sending fugitive Kyari to the US as requested by the FBI, the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari-led regime has continued to shield the Kanuri police officer while another Nigerian wanted by the US for drug-related offences, the late Senator Buruji Kashamu, was commendably holed up in his Lagos residence for many days and almost sent to the US by the Buhari government.
The craze for living large is pervasive among Nigerian youths. The son of President Buhari, Yusuf, has many multi-million naira motorbikes that his job of being a first son cannot support. The son of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was seen in a viral video, clutching a bag of foreign currencies, and uproariously doling out dollars in a country whose National Bureau of Statistics says 83 million Nigerians live below the poverty line.
This is the same country, where two bullion vans ferried an undisclosed amount of money into Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s Bourdillon residence during the 2019 national elections. Another Nigerian, Obinwanne Okeke alias Invictus Obi, is currently serving time in US prison over multi-million dollar fraud. How this type of country would raise credible youths for critical nation-building responsibilities is beyond me.
I know Cubana is innocent and has nothing to hide because, in the dark world of drugs, power and money, three things cannot be long hidden: they’re the sun, the moon, and the truth.