BEACON OF INTELLECTUALISM VERSUS ABYSS OF FRAUDSTERISM IN A DELTA IGBO COMMUNITY: Contrasting Moral Trajectories between Prof Patrick Nzekwue and Bar Fred Ajudua

BEACON OF INTELLECTUALISM VERSUS ABYSS OF FRAUDSTERISM IN A DELTA IGBO COMMUNITY:  Contrasting Moral Trajectories between Prof Patrick Nzekwue and Bar Fred Ajudua

 

Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD

Odogwu of Ibusa Clan

Leader, International Coalition against Christian Genocide in Nigeria (ICAC-GEN)

Prof Patrick Chukwujindu Nzekwue
Bar Fred Chijindu Ajudua

Email: [email protected]

Date: 03 December, 2023

 

As a young lecturer in the early 1990s at the Humanities Department of the School of General Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka teaching over two hundred students across the other Faculties, the present writer who hails from Ibusa town was often ensnared with the pride of mentioning his hometown. However, in a number of such instances he was confronted with the isolated but embarrassing shout of “Fred Ajudua! Fred Ajudua! Fred Ajudua!”

In the next five or so minutes this writer would find himself struggling to prove to his students that Ibusa from where Fred Ajudua hailed was and still remains a unique Igbo community with profound sense of integrity in hard-work and dignity in legitimate wealth; dding that Fred Ajudua was not the model-personality for the town but rather represented the extreme opposite of the moral rudder of the town.

Ibusa had produced such notable people of publicly defined legitimate callings  as the erstwhile renowned Professor of Anthropology at Howard University, Washington D.C., and later Director General of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Obi (Prof) Patrick Chike Onwuachi; the first Igbo Linguistic expert Prof. Nolue Emmanuel Emenanjo; the renowned Igbo anthropologist Prof Michael Angulu Onwuejeogwu; the renowned political economist Prof Pat Utomi; the renowned neuro-surgeon Prof John Christopher Abusa Nwaefuna; the renowned diplomat and later Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ignatius Olisadebe; and the renowned author and feminist literary icon Buchi Emecheta.

Added to the above but not exhaustive were such noted philanthropists as the British-trained printing press entrepreneur and former Uwolo of Ibusa, Chief Willy Ukadike Ikolodo; the flamboyant American trained economist Dr. John Asikabulu Anaza; the unassuming Petroleum Products Haulage expert and CEO of PPL Ltd, Mr. Martin Ikediashi; and the banker, pioneer industrialist and former Chairman of Nigerian Ports Authority Chief Celestine Okobi. As undergraduates these were the people whose achievements and contributions to society should attract their attention and serve as models, and not Fred Ajudua.

But the question is who is Fred Ajudua and why was he regarded as the “popular” face of Ibusa identity at the time? In a nutshell Fred Chijindu Ajudua is a notorious and one of the most artful and dreaded serial scammers and Advance Fee Fraudsters popularly known as “419” in Nigeria. Once described as a popular Lagos socialite and believed to possess the power to kill his victims and opponents at will under the protection of Nigerian judiciary and security agents through his capacity to dole out millions of Naira in bribery; he holds the notorious record of being the only Nigerian popular fraudster and scammer with the highest number of victims and court cases all ending inconclusively without conviction.

His recent and well-noted victim was the erstwhile Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ishaya Bamaiyi, who he scammed 8.4 million US dollars while both of them were in detention in kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in 2004.  The matter which commenced on November 3, 2014 with a 14-count charge bordering on conspiracy to obtain money by false pretense at Lagos State High Court, Ikeja under Hon. Justice J. E. Oyefeso is still inconclusive, thanks to the corrupt Nigerian judiciary and the equally corrupt prosecuting Economic and Financial Crime (EFCC). Meanwhile his accomplice in the crime and court registrar Miss Oluronke Resolu had been convicted and sentenced to 10-year imprisonment since December 21, 2015.

At the hey-days of his exploits Fred Ajudua could boast of over one hundred vehicles in escort with numerous military and mobile Police details at his disposal. He doled out millions of naira to traditional rulers who gave him a harvest of insignificant traditional titles. He faked non-functional business outfits and development projects which were carried in the news as real with massive bribery of the press. He was the toast of the moment among the youth and some decrepit moral individuals.

His town Ibusa gave him the traditional title of Onwa na-Etili Oha of Ibusa, meaning “the Moon that shines over all the people of Ibusa” and, a collection of morally corrupt traditional rulers of Delta North Senatorial District gave him the laughable title of Dike di Oha Mma of Anioma, meaning “the beloved hero of Anioma people.” The people saw fraud and scam elevated to the high pitch of the communities against time-honored customary moral values. Criminals were celebrated as heroes and models of the society. The cream of beautiful young women in their communities was riotously at their beck and call. Some of them were even made kings in their communities.

Money became the king and God the servant. The get-rich-quick syndrome through scam became the model compass for achievement and wealth acquisition in Ibusa. Fred Ajudua became the toast of many Churches, both his base Catholic Church and numerous Pentecostal Churches. Many professional musicians made albums out of his name and exploits. Many young men abandoned their education and the hope of better exciting legitimate professions and joined the frenzy of his fraudulent 419 exploits. Some even abandoned their lucrative jobs to become his apprentice-fraudsters. Notable among them was his brother-in-law and husband to Mrs. Kate Onianwa his immediate elder sister, Chief Odigwe Onianwa who abandoned his lucrative job at the Central Bank of Nigeria to become Fred Ajudua’s manager.

To parody Chinua Achebe, “things fell apart and the center could no longer hold.” Ibusa soon lost its pride of place in Government civil and corporate services, including the academia. Less and lesser young men and women soon lost the touch and taste for education. The town became notorious as the whirlpool of scammers and 419 kingpins. The town and its people became stigmatized. Many honorable and innocent indigenes of Ibusa with no crime records or the intention to commit fraud were denied lucrative and sensitive contracts and jobs on the knowledge of being of Ibusa origin. To say that Fred Ajudua was the ethereal absurdity of the customary moral instincts of the people of Ibusa is therefore the truth and nothing but the truth.

However, in the midst of this moral cacophony were some young men who kept themselves clean from these moral absurdities and multitudes of Fred Ajudua-inspired scammers. These young men of moral candor fervently resolved among themselves to follow the inspiring thoroughfare of legitimate vocations through the tortuous route of intellectualism.

It is instructive to point out that at the hey-days of 419 these paradoxical deviants of the scam bandwagon were socially subdued, publicly snubbed, financially encapsulated, and characteristically treated as ignominious pariahs of the mainstream community. Yet they persevered, resting on the hope that they would one day become the model for their society and celebrated “face” of the town defined by legitimate and enduring legacies.

Prominent among these young men of intellectual gallantry is Professor Patrick Chukwujindu Nzekwue who, like one of the Argonauts of Greek mythology who accompanied Jason in search of the Golden Fleece, decided to follow the intellectual foot-steps of the erstwhile renowned Ibusa-born Professor of anthropology at Howard University, Washington D. C., and later Director General of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Obi (Prof) Patrick Chike Onwuachi.

Prof Patrick Chukwujindu Nzekwue, a characteristically unassuming fellow, sublime in humility and distinctly large-hearted who is currently a Professor of Economics with the University of Massachusetts represents what could rightly be described as the intellectual Manifest Destiny of a people whose once elevated pride in learning was uneventfully interrupted by the rampaging tides of fraudsters and scammers. In addition to his Faculty tenure in University of Massachusetts, he also doubles with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

His tortuous advancement to his present pinnacle of intellectualism not only proved that legitimate hard-work through learning results to enduring legitimate legacies clad in profound respect and integrity, but clearly demystifies the once dominant influence of scammers and fraudsters as inspirational models for the youth of Ibusa. Prof Patrick Nzekwue thus represents not only the symbol of the inherent Ibusa customary Spartan instinct founded on hard-work and clothed in celebrative integrity.

Attended Saint Pius X Grammar School, Onicha-Ugbo where he finished his West African School Certificate (WASC) in 1981 with distinction; Prof Patrick Nzekwue proceeded to the famous Government College, Ughelli, where he again finished his Higher School Certificate (HSC) with distinction. His appetite for further education took him to University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, graduating in 1989 as the best student in Forestry, a feat which subsequently granted him automatic Federal Government postgraduate studies scholarship.

Originally detailed to pursue his postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom, it was dramatically diverted by the “Ogas at the top” to University of Jos, where he subsequently diverged to economics, resulting to his Master’s degree in 1993 and doctorate degree in 1998, specializing in Money and Finance. Beyond his stint at the Department of Economics, University of Jos before moving to the United States, Prof Nzekwue worked with Estate Surveyors and Registration Board of Nigeria ESVARBON) as Chief Administrative Secretary between 2004 and 2009. He was also a partner with Expert Securities Ltd, a private security company which focused on Commercial Bank protections.

Prof Patrick Nzekwue who has published extensively in his professional area of research is not being celebrated today because he is the first to attain such academic accomplishments in his hometown Ibusa, but because among his peers he symbolizes a paradigm shift in a community plagued with infantile secret cult violence and doused with the stigma of home to the most dreaded international scammers and fraudsters known as 419. There is therefore no doubt that Prof Nzekwue by his blossoming intellectual exploits is redefining both the intellectual landscape of Ibusa and the moral trajectory of the youth in his town and by extension the wider society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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