• He sends me pornographic pictures instead of paying my money –Lender
Do you know Senator Patrick Ani? Do you or do you not? Well, Fola Owolabi, a retired civil servant living in Ibadan, says he is looking for a hammer, a sledgehammer or, better still, a mattock with which to knock off the appellation “Distinguished Senator” from the name of the Third Republic lawmaker, who represented the Cross River South Senatorial District, on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in the Upper Chamber between 1991 and 1992. And, he is damn too serious about it. Reason: he said the man who hails from the famous Ani family in Cross River State and who is the younger brother of Nigeria’s former finance minister under the administration of General Sani Abacha, Anthony Ani, borrowed from him, N500, 000, with a promise to pay within two weeks. That was in December, 2016, about six months after he was kidnapped in his farm in July, by gunmen, but later released. But almost two years after, he is yet to honour his promise to pay back.
Genesis of Owolabi, Ani relationship
The story started when, some years ago, Ani, an active and vocal campaigner against prostrate cancer established a company called Roots Herbal Products Enterprise with headquarters in Calabar, the capital of Cross-River State. Widely known throughout Nigeria for producing and marketing anti-prostrate cancer herbal syrup called “The Roots,” it later set up marketing outlets/branches in the 36 states of the federation. One of those Nigerians who read about Ani and his “The Roots” herbal solution is Mr. Owolabi. He came into Ani’s social radar when, on his own, he would give out to interested clients, Ani’s contact number that was usually published in newspaper adverts placed by his company.
It was in the course of doing that that his path and Ani’s crossed. According to Owolabi who spoke to Saturday Sun on the genesis of their relationship, the ex-Senator who was so impressed by what he was doing for him by sending clients to him without meeting him face to face was kind enough to later call him on the phone to express his appreciation. Not long after that, the retiree said Ani called him on the phone again to suggest that he becomes his sales representative of his herbal products in Ibadan, Oyo State. He thought over it and consented. That marked the beginning of business relationship between the two elderly men. From time to time, he said, Ani would send some herbal products to Ibadan, and, after selling them, he would remit the money realised into his account after taking his commission.
How the relationship went sour
Everything was going on fine between the two business partners until that December, 2016, when Ani allegedly called him, one morning, and openly told him that he was in a big crisis and urgently needed about N1.5 million for doctors to carry out a surgery on his wife who he reportedly claimed was afflicted with breast cancer.
Owolabi told Saturday Sun that initially he was baffled as to how an ex-Senator, and member of the eminent Ani family, for that matter, could be looking for N1.5 million to borrow. “I couldn’t believe it when Senator Ani said I should loan him N1.5 million,” he insists. “I thought he was pulling my legs, and I told him that if he was joking with me he should stop. But what happened next really jolted me, and I was moved to sympathize with him. In an emotion-laden voice, he told me he meant what he said, and added that if I don’t loan him the money his wife’s life was in serious danger.”
Owolabi was confused as to what to say or do as he didn’t have such amount of money readily available. He reminded him that he is a retired civil servant. “But still he would not let me be, as he now said that even if it is N500, 000 I should look for ways to raise it for him and that before the end of December 2016 (which was then about two weeks time) he would return the money,” he recalled. “Out of compassion, I promised to assist him in whatever capacity I could. I later sent N250, 000 to him which he duly acknowledged.”
On how he was able to raise the money, Owolabi said: “At that time I was supervising a project for a friend, and it was from the money meant to execute the project that I took N250,000 I sent to him. But as soon as he acknowledged receipt of the money, Senator Ani insisted that I should make it N500,000, reaffirming his earlier promise that he would repay the money before the end of December 2016. Again, out of pity, I took another N250, 000 from the project and sent it to him, making it a total of N500, 000.”
But as things later turned out, looking for the money and sending to the honourable ex-Senator was the easier part. Getting him to pay back has now become the hardest. It is like the popular African adage of giving a glass of water to a thirsty monkey. Getting the monkey to return the cup after it has finished drinking has always been the difficult part. “To my shock and dismay, Senator Ani up till now which is about one year and three months has refused to repay the money,” frustrated Owolabi said dejectedly to Saturday Sun. In the social parlance of Nigerian natives, immigrants and emigrants of Internet age, you would say the money ‘has entered voicemail’.
You wondered what his reasons were for failing to fulfill his promise and Owolabi said: “At times when I send text messages to him or we converse through Whatsapp, he would appeal to me to exercise patience that he would still pay me my money back, but at times he would tell me to go to hell. Meanwhile, the project from which I took money I gave him is suffering as we couldn’t do much work at the site again. At a point, I had to look for people who might be able to intervene and speak to him to help convince him to repay the money he borrowed from me.”
Details of the Whatsapp messages between them
Details of the Whatsapp messages exchanges, some of them quite lengthy and revealing, that happened between the two business friends were turned over to Saturday Sun by Owolabi to show that he was not making it up. From the look of things, records of the bizarre messages exchanged between them tell the story even more vividly. For instance, sometime in September, 2017, at about 7 pm, the following exchanges took place between them.
“In another 3 months it will be one year that you borrowed N500k from me and refused to pay,” Owolabi wrote. “You told me your wife had cancer of the breast and needs urgent surgery. It’s been one story or the other since then. To the glory of God we both are alive. Senator Patrick ANI please pay me my money in the name of God and Jesus Christ our Lord.”
To this, Ani replied: “No wahala IJN (In Jesus Name)”
“What else?,” Owolabi asked
“Meaning what?,” Ani responded.
“Am sure Jesus can never be part of this. Be bold to say what’s on your mind as to when you will pay me, Senator,” Owolabi angrily retorted. “You have just confirmed what has been said about you, namely that conning people is your trade mark and that I am just the latest victim.”
“Conning people is my trade mark. Abi? Then go to hell,” Ani replied.
Owolabi: Yours is a household name in the country apart from you being a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Why will you repay a helping hand with evil and you appear so calm and cool.
Ani: Hear me this morning, No man rises without being helped in life. Therefore I pray that from today, destiny helpers, destiny sponsors, destiny promoters, destiny lifters and destiny announcers shall locate you before the end of this month. Your confidence in the Lord is restored. Day by day, men shall come to help you. You shall grow great. You shall wax strong. You shall enjoy uncommon prosperity from now henceforth by the reason of God’s sure mercy. Men shall give to you in abundance, above and beyond your expectations. You shall not experience any disgrace before your celebration. Receive that unique and special miracle today in Jesus mighty name. Amen. Shalom
A Beautiful Thought:
Your ‘Kindness’ may be treated as your weakness,
“Still Be Kind”
Your help to others may go unneeded & unnoticed,
“Still Be Helpful”
If you are ‘Honest’ & ‘Frank’, people may cheat you,
“Still Be Honest”
The Good you do today, people will forget tomorrow,
“Do Good Always”
Because its between You & GOD..
It was never between You & Them…
Owolabi: You are acting a script that is not in tandem with your inner person and that’s unfortunate. May Jesus bring out the best of what He created you for so that intrinsic and unlimited joy may permeate the rest of your days on earth. Stop acting a wrong script. It will do you no good. Jesus loves you.
Ani: I am thanking GOD for his wonderful mercies. Don’t spoil my day.
Owolabi: Go to hell. I have never met you in person yet I went out of my way to help you save your wife from death by sending you the N500k. Is that what you call ‘wonderful mercies’? Hell is a place for fraudsters except they repent and are forgiven. God loves you.”
Ani: I will ignore your tantrums for now. By the Grace of the ALMIGHTY GOD i will settle you soon and all these insults from a retired immigration officer will stop. When you play with a fowl expect shit to rub on you.
Owolabi: You probably took the fowl for granted for so long.
Ani’s Easter message and the two-way applications
Ani then told an Easter story of how Jesus paid, with His blood and life, for the freedom of the entire humanity from the hand of Satan.
Owolabi: Thanks for this message. Jesus paid a debt He never owed. You owed me N500k since Dec 2016 and you are not blinking an eye. Jesus taught us to help anyone in distress that we know. I went out of my way to help you with N500k to enable you pay for an operation for your (wife) down with breast cancer .Even though I have never met you I came to your rescue and transfer (sic) the money to you via Ecobank. You have refused to pay me back till now. Am retired and not from a well known and popular family like yours. You do not know what effects your owing me caused me daily. Yours is like the biblical story of David and a poor man called Uriah and his wife. Pls, pay me my money and not sending bible text. Do you sincerely fear God my dear Senator Patrick Ani?
Ani: Yes i fear God. That is why i have stayed in touch with you to show you am not running away from my debt. I will refund immediately my cash situation stabilises. So sorry.
Owolabi: This explains why I thought you were acting a script that is not in tandem with your spirit being. It’s not tantrum. I also appreciate the cold comfort you gave by your promise to pay when your cash situation stabilised. The question is WHEN? Your cold comfort is no comfort at all. Please be reasonable and come up with time-lined payment plan. Be considerate
Ani: Pls give me till month end. We have two serious suitors for the property. Hopefully we will close the deal by then.
Failed efforts to reach Ani through go-betweens
After all is said and done, Senator Ani reneged on his promise. Owolabi told Saturday Sun that at a point he was introduced to somebody very close to Ani. But even at that, the efforts to recover his money through that process hit a brick wall. “I was even shocked by what the man we had connected to link us up with Senator Ani said,” he recalled. “He told me whether I know Senator Ani very well or not, adding that if I had known him, I should not have in the first place loaned him the money. The person further added that Ani’s wife was never sick or diagnosed with cancer.”
Not deterred, the retired civil servant said that he linked up with a prominent cleric who people believed might be able to persuade Senator Ani to give him back his money, but like previous ones, this effort also hit the rock.
“It was at this point that I knew that I had run into serious trouble. This cleric is a prominent man of God that nobody would ever think Senator Ani would disobey, but the cleric pointedly told me that after talking to Senator Ani that he didn’t deny owing me N500, 000 but that the impression he had from his discussion with him was that the Senator was not ready to pay me back my money. The cleric, however, told me not to lose hope, but that I should go to God in prayer and fasting if I ever hope to get my N500, 000 back from Senator Patrick Ani.”
Owolabi who said he has vowed not to relent or give up until the Senator repays his debt said, sometime ago, he passionately pleaded with him but added that nothing substantive came out of it.“Senator Ani just started giving excuses again. At a point he told me that the Ani family wanted to sell one of the properties of their patriarch in Lagos, and that he would give me back my money from what comes to him as his own share. But up till today, he has not repaid me. At another time he told me that he was abducted by kidnappers and that I should give him sometime to recover from the trauma of being held in kidnappers den but up till now, he has not done anything concerning the money he owed me.”
A retiree’s appeal and biggest battle
Sometime in November 2017, Owolabi and Ani exchanged another series of Whatsapp messages.
Owolabi: Have compassion on me and pay me the 500k. By next month it will be one year that this money was loaned to you without knowing what you look like. People have told me how foolish my gesture was. They seem to be right for now. Pls, prove them wrong by doing the needful.
Ani: Re:loan. Almost there. Sori o. Na condition dey make crayfish bend.”
Owolabi said that he noticed that Ani did not give a specific date when he would pay up. A week or so after that he sent him another Whatsapp message:
Owolabi: Any news for me on your indebtedness pls?
Ani: Your current position is somebody’s future expectation. Your life now is somebody’s prayer request. Don’t let the devil point at you that somebody is doing better than you. It is a strategy for ingratitude. Anything you celebrate multiplies, anything you despise diminishes. Appreciation is the vehicle for acceleration. Gratitude is the lift to great altitude. To see what God will do, you must acknowledge what God has done.
Owolabi: Thanks for all this mail (sic). You unfortunately kept mute on my last mail on this protracted and unresolved payment. It’s more important to me than this hordes (sic) of recycled mail. When are you paying me my 500k?”
Ani: Today, God will step into every battle confronting you and give you victory. Almighty God will never stop His Mercy and protection over your life and your family. Every blessing and gift associated with your name will locate you before the year runs out. You shall receive your end-of-the-year gift of peace, blessing, promotion, wealth, and all round favour from God. As the year is going to an end and new year is fast approaching, you will not be a victim of any calamity. From this moment there will be no lack, no loss and no limitation for you and your entire household in Jesus mighty name. Do have a fruitful week. Shalom.
Owolabi: The biggest battle facing me is your refusal to pay me the 500k debt. Yours is an ungodly behaviour. You are a Senator and from a noble family. Why are you dragging yourself in the mud?
Ani: Welcome to another glorious day. I pray that the Almighty God will count you worthy as a recipient of His favour as you step out today. No plan of the evil ones from the pit of hell shall come to pass in your life. Every trap set for you and your family by the agents of death shall miss their target. Those who are waiting to announce your failure shall receive the greatest shock of their lives. The Lord shall turn every curse and envhantment (enchantment?) against you into blessing. The Bible says in Psalm 27:1” The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? The Lord will shine His light on your path, divert your feet from dangers and calamities. He will cause you to.avoid every situation that causes you fear and cause your adversaries to flee before you in Jesus Mighty Name. Amen. Receive an invisible strength for conquest the whole of the working days of this week. Have a wonderful day! God Blessings (sic). Good Morning!”
March, the month of marching forward?
On March 2, 2018, Ani, without any prompting, and quoting from John 2:1-11, sent Owolabi a special Whatsapp message he entitled: MARCH OUR MONTH OF MIGHTY MANIFESTATION
John 2:11 (NKJV) “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.”
Owolabi: When are you paying me the 500k debt that is one year plus old?
Ani: Whenever that property is sold you will be the first charge on the proceeds. So sorry.
Owolabi: My concern is to retrieve that 500k debt which you are shamelessly trying frantically not to pay with your tales by the moonlight. Pls stop sending those christian religious text to me. With due respect I have nothing to benefit from you. You should heal uour self first of a life of deceit. Pls pay me my money.
Pleading with well-meaning Nigerians to intervene and help him recover his money from Ani, Owolabi said that he is even now frightened by what he called shocking and weird responses from Senator Ani whenever he reminded him about the need to repay his money.
“Of recent, Senator Ani in his response to my text messages and Whatsapp has been exhibiting strange behaviour,” he remarked. “At times, he would offer his apologies, but at other times, he would be sending scriptural messages and biblical verses to me. He would start preaching and sermonizing, but I remember there was a period I was very upset with him, and told him that he should stop sermonising to me, but just pay me back my money. But Senator Ani, in his reply, said he would shock me, and true, to his word, he sent pornographic materials to me through Whatsapp. He started sending photos of naked women to me. I was shocked and couldn’t believe my eyes. At a point, I had to tell him to stop sending the rubbish, I told him that I initially thought the hands of God was upon him not knowing that he was an agent of the devil.”
Silencing a benefactor? The pornographic angle
On March 2, 2018, Owolabi said he sent a Whatsapp message to Ani, again, asking for the repayment of the money but according to him, he replied by sending into his Whatsapp naked photos of women, something he claimed he has been doing from time to time. “I acknowledge receipt of your response to my mail of March 2nd 2018 by way of pornography,” he wrote in his reply. “Why you consider such as a deserved response to my message is best left to your imagination. Am at a loss as to why a distinguished Senator Patrick Ani will condescend so low. Would it be right to use that pornography as a reflection of whom you really are? As nauseating and as distasteful as that picture is, I note that it did not stop you from sending your daily xtiandiet. Thanks. When are you paying me the N500k you owed me? That’s the question.”
Owolabi claimed that all efforts he has made to appeal to Senator Ani to stop sending pornographic materials to him have also failed: “Looking at those porn materials that this man has been sending, I couldn’t believe my eyes. At times, in a month, Senator Ani would send five pornographic materials. I got fed up with him, and I told him point blank that what I needed is my money, but he has not stopped. I’m using this medium to appeal to the governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade to help me appeal to Senator Ani to repay my money. I’m also appealing to Senator Ani’s elder brother, the former Minister for Finance, Mr. Anthony Ani and the entire Ani clan in Cross River State, to help me appeal to Senator Patrick Ani to repay me N500, 000 he borrowed from me. Senator Ani promised to repay me within two weeks, but almost two years after, he has stubbornly refused to repay me. I took compassion on Senator Ani because I thought his wife was genuinely sick, not knowing that Senator Ani had deliberately set out to dupe me. I can’t believe that a man of Senator Patrick Ani’s status, a former National Assembly member, and a scion of prominent Ani family in Cross River State can con me.”
Saturday Sun’s encounter with Owolabi shows that he is seriously embittered about the whole thing. “I think they used to refer to senators as distinguished fellows?” he asked before adding, “Honestly speaking, Senator Ani has not shown any sign or merit being addressed as a distinguished fellow. I believe Senator Ani is a Christian even though his conduct is the opposite of what a good Christian should be. But I’m appealing to the Christian Association of Nigeria and members of the congregation where he worships that they should all appeal to him to repay me my money.”
“Every morning you send me a Christian text messages (sic) where you proclaim Christ Jesus as the truth and the light,” Owolabi observed in one of the Whatsapp messages he sent to him in this month of March. “Whatever motivates you to do this has never pricked your conscience to pay me the N500k you took from (me) by false pretence when you claim you need the money to pay for a breast cancer surgery for your wife in Calabar – that was in 2nd week of Dec 2016.I fell a victim because I thought you are a christian, a senator of this great country and a good family name. Till now I have never met you in person and the Bible taught us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Where did I wrong? (sic) Please consider this unique period of lent in the christian calendar and pay me the N500k you owe me.”
He is determined to get back his money back, he informed you: “I will not give up until Senator Ani repays me back,” he vowed. “He promised to repay me within two weeks, but a year and three months after, Senator Ani is still holding on to my money. If Senator Ani thinks I would let go on this issue, he better forget it. I will use all legal means to recover this money from him.”
Senator Ani’s response
Contacted on phone, Senator Patrick Ani admitted to Saturday Sun that he owed Owolabi N500,000. “It is true I owe him. I’m not denying it. I’m not running away. Please, tell him I will pay him the money back very shortly,” he assured, something that Owolabi complained he has done over and over again in the past one year and three months but without caring to fulfill his promise(s). “The asset I put up for sale is near realization. Maximum four weeks from now, he will get his money. Otherwise, I will supply Roots herbal product of equivalent value.”On the issue of sending pornographic materials, Senator Ani declined comments.