Friendship is limping as the daggers are out between billionaire businessmen, Captain Idahosa Okunbo of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited, and his erstwhile friend and partner, Dr Tunde Ayeni, a former chairman of Skye Bank Plc.
Before now, theirs was the kind of friendship many would say was solid and strong. Despite the ten-year age and ethnic difference, Captain Hosa Okunbo, the billionaire philanthropist and businessman behind Ocean Marine Solutions Limited, and Dr Tunde Ayeni, former chairman of Skye Bank Plc, were collaborators and business partners.
The crux of the matter is the claims by Ayeni that he remains a shareholder at OMS despite documentary evidence showing he sold his shares in 2018. Going by reports from their two privileged camps, the bond that existed between Capt Okunbo and Ayeni may have snapped and things are falling apart irredeemably
In the first week of November last year, Captain Idahosa Wells Okunbo reached out to Ayeni, and requested for a siting with his lawyers to address some pending issues since they had been into a few businesses together and a divorce had also become imperative.
The meeting would have afforded them the opportunity to address other concerns with respect to the Ocean Marine Solutions Limited, one of Captain Hosa’s major going concerns in which Ayeni had divested his interest over two years ago. To underscore his concern and intention, note that Captain Hosa sent the message below from his hospital bed in London.
The message read thus: “My dear brother, my first choice was always to sit with you and iron out any issues we may have, peacefully. However, the current reality between me being on my sickbed and the covid-19 protocols across the UK, that may seem impossible right now.
But sources said Ayeni didn’t bother to dignify his friend with a decent response let alone show that he too wanted a seamless transition. His response according to sources was: “When a bird is alive…it eats ants. When the bird has died…ants eat it. One tree can be made into a million matchsticks… But only one match is needed to burn a million trees! Circumstances can change at any time… Don’t devalue or hurt anyone in this life… You may be powerful today but time is more powerful than you!”
Incorporated in 2008 by Okunbo, OMS, a leading asset protection company dedicated to protecting Nigeria’s natural resources from graft and illegal activities, is also a foremost player in the global maritime industry. As the story goes, Okunbo, perhaps in a bid to expand his company’s operations and solidify his relationship with Ayeni, invited the latter on board and he reportedly snapped up about 35% stake.
However, after his unceremonious ouster from Skye Bank, owing to alleged money laundering and mismanagement of depositors’ funds, Ayeni approached Okunbo that he would like to sell off his shares and cease to be a director of OMS.
Though Okunbo, appealed to him to rescind his decision. But Tunde’s mind was already made up to sell off the shares. Documents show that Ayeni, using his company, Prime Union Investment Limited, specifically 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 resolution of the board of Prime Union Investment Limited, signed by Ayeni and his wife, Biola, confirmed the sale of shares mid-August 2018. Following this agreement, Capt. Okunbo, on November 26, 2018, duly authorised the transfer of N1billion to Ayeni’s Olutoyl Estate Development and Services Ltd’s Sterling Bank account. The balance was mutually agreed to be paid on a monthly instalment.
However in another twist, Ayeni, who is yet to resolve his N29 billion palaver with the EFCC, wrote to the same commission and alleged mismanagement, stealing and diversion of funds from Ocean Marine Security Limited.
In the petition written by his counsel, Mr. Femi Fálànà (SAN), Ayeni gave a vivid account of how Okunbo tried to scheme him out of the company, adding that he had since discovered “a lot of stealing and diversion as well as gross mismanagement of large sums of money belonging to the company,” in which he had since 2018 divested his interests.