Until a few years back, 2 big businessmen, Captain Idahosa Okunbo & Dr. Tunde Ayeni were very good friends. As you read this, both have now become sworn enemies. They are no longer on talking terms.
The 2 good friends parted ways a few years back in controversial circumstances.
This is the story of the bitter quarrel between Captain Idahosa Okunbo of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited & Dr. Olatunde Ayeni, the former Chairman of Skye Bank Plc. and why Captain Idahosa is so embittered.
City People can authoritatively reveal that when the going was good, all their friends envied their close relationship, as they were not only friends, they were good business partners.
So smooth was their relationship that many felt theirs was the kind of friendship many would say must have been made in heaven and consecrated here on earth. Despite their 10 year age difference, and also ethnic difference, Captain Hosa Okunbo, the billionaire businessman and Tunde Ayeni, also a rich businessmen, put all of that aside and did good business together. They were close.
They attended events and parties together. But as many will say, there is a thin line between Love and Hate. The two friends got torn apart.
Right now, both don’t see eye-to-eye and Captain Hosa Okunbo is very bitter at the turn of events. Tunde Ayeni also feels he is being short-changed by his friend.
The bone of contention is the claim by Tunde Ayeni that he remains a Shareholder of OMS despite documentary evidence making the rounds, showing he sold his Shares in 2018. What makes the issue even more pathetic is that their fight is coming at a time when Okunbo is very sick and has been receiving treatment in a London hospital for the past few months. Those close to the 2 of them feel bad that it is at a time like this that Ayeni is now engaged in a battle with his friend.
Let’s tell you a bit about OMS which was incorporated in 2008 by Okunbo. OMS is a leading asset protection company dedicated to protecting Nigeria’s natural resources from graft and illegal activities. It is also a foremost player in the global maritime industry. City People gathered that Okunbo, in a bid to expand his company’s operations and solidify his relationship with Ayeni, invited the latter on board and he reportedly took a 35% stake. He was then Chairman of Skye Bank.
However, after his exit from Skye Bank, Ayeni allegedly approached Okunbo that he would like to sell off his shares and cease to be a director of OMS. Okunbo, was said to have appealed to him to rescind his decision. But his friends mind seemed made up, to sell off the shares. Those in the Okunbo group have shown documents of how Ayeni, using his company, Prime Union Investment Limited, on August 15, 2018, agreed to sell his shares including the 175, 000, 000 ordinary shares in GYRO (and the 50,000,000 shares held by Mrs Ayeni) to Wells Property Development Company Limited for the total sum of N2bn (Two billion naira).
A Special Board Resolution of Prime Union Investment Limited was said to have been, signed by Ayeni and his wife, Biola which confirmed the sale of shares mid-August 2018. Following this agreement, Capt. Okunbo, on November 26, 2018, allegedly authorised the transfer of N1 billion to Ayeni’s Olutoyl Estate Development and Services Ltd’s Sterling Bank account. The balance was mutually agreed to be paid on monthly instalment.
The board of OMS then went ahead to notify the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Office of the Vice President about Ayeni’s resignation of his membership of the board of the OMS and its affiliate companies. While acknowledging the agreement in January 2019, the CBN stated, “Please, be informed that the resignation of Dr Ayeni from the board of your company does not in any way affect his liability, or that of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited or any of its subsidiaries/group members, to Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank Limited) and, indeed, any other bank in Nigeria.”
Similarly, on March 1st, the Vice President, in an acknowledgement letter titled ‘Re: Notification of Resignation and Share Divestment of Dr Olatunde John Ayeni’ signed by the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Ade Ipaye, applauded Capt. Okunbo’s renewed commitment to service in the Agricultural, Aviation and Hospitality sectors of the economy, adding, “Your company’s disclaimer as regards the said Dr. Ayeni’s activities as Chairman of Skye Bank has been duly noted and brought to the attention of His Excellency, the Vice President.”
The Hosa Okunbo group are alleging that after collecting his full balance, Ayeni, reportedly petitioned the EFCC, alleging that he sold his shares under duress.
A Joint Statement issued by the Board, Management and Shareholders of OMS has questioned, Ayeni’s claims of still being a shareholder of the company. “Dr Olatunde John Ayeni is no longer a Director of OMS and any of its associated companies having resigned from OMS since August 2018,” the signees stated, adding that he sold and transferred all his shares and interests to Wells Property Development Company Limited for valuable consideration since 2018.
As such, Ayeni, the statement stated further, had not been involved or connected in any way with the Management of the OMS since the time he sold his shares and resigned from the board. However, the Management alleged that when Ayeni became aware in September 2020 that Captain Okunbo had health issues and was undergoing treatment in London, he started making false claims that he is still a part of OMS.”
Ayeni was also accused of peddling misinformation to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, about the spending in OMS (a company he stopped having any ties with since 2018).
The board of the company, the statement noted, has also passed a Vote of Confidence on Capt Okunbo but described Ayeni as “a meddlesome interloper who is seeking to blackmail Capt. Idahosa Okunbo at this time of his ill-health…”
Therefore, the company’s stakeholders declared in the statement that they were compelled to issue the Disclaimer to set the records straight and to prevent government agencies, clients of OMS and the general public from being misled by Ayeni’s “deliberate misrepresentation of facts” while advising him “to steer clear of OMS and its associated companies.”
Ayeni is also fighting back, through his lawyers. They are blaming Okunbor for trying to pull a fast one on Ayeni. According to their argument, “Sometimes in July 2020, one of our client’s partners told him of a discrepancy which had been noticed in the accounting records leading to an unauthorised withdrawal of $10 million and $8 million, respectively.”
“Capt. Hosa Okunbo had claimed to them that he had spent the sum to settle a Senate hearing on one of the subsidiary companies, the Secured Anchorage Area (SAA), and that $8 million was spent in the Presidency on the same issue because of the dispute between him and the Ministry of Transport/Nigerian Ports Authority, which our client considers to be unreasonable because the total annual profit achieved on the SAA was about $5 million.”
“You will agree with our client that the claim that Capt. Hosa Okunbo spent $18 million on influence-peddling without discussing it with our client amounts to diversion as it makes no sense at all. More so, that the story of the amount he claimed to have spent has continued to change by the day from $1 million to $2 million to $4 million to $6 million until he made them to input the records $10 million for the Senate hearing and $8 million for the Presidency.”
Already, a lot of big men who are close to the 2 businessmen have stepped in to help them achieve an amicable settlement.