Tuesday, 20 December 2016


A wonder bank in PortHarcourt back in the '90s. Many of these buildings thrived back then.

МММ was said to be a Russian company that perpetrated one of the world's largest Ponzi schemes of all time, in the 1990s. By different estimates from 5 to 40 million people lost up to $10 billion. The exact figures are not known even to the founders. In 2011, MMM re-opened as "MMM Global" with up to 110 subsidiaries per country, it became widely popular in various African countries like South Africa , Nigeria , Zimbabwe and Kenya.

There is high probability that Umanah's bank of the 1990's was part of MMM.
The famous 'Resources Managers Nigeria Limited' on No. 1 Woru Street, off Olu Obansanjo Road, Resources village, Port Harcourt. It was a bubbling place for all, people trouped in, in their hundreds. With a whopping 60 per cent interest for any amount lodged in the Wonder Bank within 30 days who will not want to be a part of it. It was a case of 'everybody come inside' mechanics, barbers, traders, housewives, drivers, students, dish washers, petrol attendants, house-helps, labourers, prostitutes, business men, Soldiers, Police and the Navy were all involved, they assembled everyday to either make fresh lodgments or withdrew their money that might have been ‘matured’ with huge interest.

Then in May 1991, it happened, the unexpected happened, people gathered that faithful morning but the gate was locked. The members of 'SIB' from state police headquarters Moscow Road, G.R.A Port Harcourt had stormed the place and arrested the Wonder Bank Manager - Umanah E. Umanah, and all members of his staff.
That was the end of the Wonder bank, there were several versions of what transpired, but the fact was that the bank went down with over 10 billion naira of its customers. While some people believed that Umanah connived with the police to dupe them of their money, others felt he was arrested by the police because he had no operational license, and was wanted very badly by the central bank of Nigeria for depriving commercial banks of the customers.

Thousands of people gathered every morning in the frontage of the bank to console themselves. There was a case of a company accountant who took the salary of the staff of the company and banked with the Wonder bank, with the expectation of making 60% interest, he lost it all. A family that sold everything they had and deposited the money in the bank also lost it all. There was a taxi driver, who sold his Toyota car in March and put the entire money in the Bank. A lady deposited the monthly contribution of her club members without their knowledge. There was the case of a man who leased his community land and deposited the money in the Bank hoping to make interest and return the money. A customs officer, transferred from Lagos to Port Harcourt, sold her car and deposited the whole money into the Recourses Bank. A Local government chairman lodged the April salaries of teachers in his LGA in the bank, hoping for the 60% wonder and his teachers were on strike, he never cared.

After the Resources Bank closed down and Umanah’s whereabouts became unknown, most people who had committed various sums of money into the bank ran mad and some probably committed suicide.
In November 2015, MMM launched a website targeting the Nigerian audience, also claiming a "30% per month" return including other acquirable bonuses. The entity was self-described as a "mutual aid fund where ordinary people help each other." Over 2.4 million people signed up by late 2016. On December 13th, it announced the freezing of all members' accounts due to systems overload and the negative attention brought on by the Government and mass media. this led to panic and attempted suicides. The 'funny' part was that on December 14, LASEMA (Lagos State Emergency Management Agency) pleaded with Lagosians to dial their emergency number if they spot anyone trying to commit suicide. LASEMA stated that the action was necessary following the number of people that committed suicides after MMM crashed in Russia.

When will we learn and understand the fact that nothing good comes easy. Greed is what drags most people to schemes like this. In the next few months, if another wonder appears Nigerians will go all out to embrace it . We never learn from history, because we don't know our history.

1 comment:

  1. You've said it all.
    Greed. Nothing but greed is the major problem the whole world have.