Victor Okafor a.k.a Ezego.1 King of Money
Mention Victor Okafor and no one will twitch a muscle. But mention Ezego, King of Money and you will see the eyes of many Nigerians light up with excitement.
He would have been one of Africa’s billionaires. He was fair-skinned, spoke softly and warm smiles danced on his chubby cheeks accentuated by a not-too-bushy moustache. He was relatively very young but as at that time, he was very well-known and duly respected in the Nigerian business society.
Here is the story of a man of many sides, Chief Victor Nnamdi Okafor, the Eze Ego (King of Money) I of Ihiala aka Udu Bunch aka The Young Millionaire, the Igbo tycoon who died tragically at a time he was to be celebrating his birthday.
EARLY DAYS, EDUCATION AND GROWING UP
A first son and a native of Uzoakwa, Ihiala in Anambra State, the late Ezego was born on the 25th of December, 1964. Ezego’s story is often touted as one of the classic rags-to-riches stories in Nigeria. He had his primary school education at the Uzoakwa Primary School but he was forced to drop out in the secondary school, Abbot Boys’ Secondary School, Ihiala and eventually took to business.
His childhood was a very traumatic one and at a point, his own father reportedly disowned him when he was nabbed for being a member of a robbery gang that showed Onitsha traders hell on earth .
THE ESCAPE, BUSINESS AND MAKING MONEY
While some of his fellow gangsters were caught and punished, Ezego fled to Umumeni Village where his angry father was said to have driven him out. From there, he went to Umuduru, his mother’s village. However, things were not rosy for him at Umuduru and in 1989, he decided to move to Lagos where he joined a mentor. What happened years after that remain shrouded in mystery but the next time the world would be hearing of Ezego, he was already a multimillionaire, one of the crème de la crème of Lagos.
In Lagos, he set up the Ezego Shopping Complex on Allen Avenue (there was also a branch in Abuja) and also the Ezego Plaza on the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road. From these spots, he operated and controlled one of the biggest electronics store in Nigeria. His other companies were Vic-Winners International Limited, Ezego Nigeria Limited, Ezego Holdings Limited, Vitex Zinc Co. Limited and Ezego Properties Limited.
Gate to his mansion
HIS WEALTH AND PROPERTY
Ezego built houses, villas and mansions all over the country, one of which was an made of glass. All his real estate as at 1999 outside Ihiala was put at about half a billion naira.
The expansive mansion that served as his country home in Ihiala was worth another N500 million with the marble used for the walls imported from Italy.
A LOVER OF CARS
As at the time Ezego was alive, he had one of the largest private car garages in all of Africa. He loved cars and was always purchasing the latest ones stocking his garages at Ihiala and Lagos. A car freak of the first class, his garage alone was valued at almost one billion naira. He once dropped N14 million to acquire just two posh cars: a Sedan Lincoln Continental Mark 8 and a Mercedes Benz R230 convertible from Moontrends, owned by Tayo Ayeni.
Actually, as at the time of his death, he left behind countless state-of-the-art cars, 70 houses all over Nigeria and overseas and over N10 billion naira in his bank account.
LOVE, FAMILY, ROMANCE AND MARRIAGE
He was married to the fair-complexioned and beautiful Laurita Nkechi, a princess from Akata in Imo State and the marriage produced eight children. Following the death of her husband, Princess Nkechi relocated from Ajao Estate where she had stayed with her husband to Lekki. As at December 2013, it was reported by Nigeria Business Guide that she was taking her husband’s business empire to greater heights with her children in top universities around the globe.
By the way, Ezego’s first son was from a Japanese woman. He also fathered kids with other women apart from his wife, Nkechi.
On Thursday, 14th March, 2002, there was a case (Suit Number CA/E/166M/2000) before the Court of Appeal, Enugu Judicial Division and it was between Ezego’s wife and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa on one hand as the appellants and Mrs. Elizabeth Onedibe, Citizens International Bank Limited, Zenith International Bank Limited and Diamond Bank Limited on the other hand as the respondents. Ezego had his accounts with these three banks.
On the 25th of December, 1999, death came knocking on Ezego’s door. But, he was not even aware in the slightest. Ezego’s birthday was on the 25th of December and it was his usual tradition to storm Ihiala, his hometown every Christmas for the double celebration (actually, it was a triple celebration: his birthday, Christmas and the New Year). His kinsmen and women in Ihiala eagerly awaited his annual homecoming which meant a lot of goodies for everyone. And so it was that fateful December of 1999. Ezego and everyone in his family were in high spirits and plans were fully made for the trip back home.
Ezego was in the habit of storming the sleepy, rustic hometown of Ihiala, impressing his people with his legendary wealth and affluence. Thus, the 1999 edition was no different. The whole of Nigeria would know that Ezego was in town. Some of the most sought-after musicians in the world’s most populous black nation were billed to entertain the guests at the most exciting galore of the year. Afrobeat maestro, Femi Kuti and his Positive Force Band were billed to dazzle the guests and rock the community to its very foundation.
To show how serious Ezego took the party, the moneybag personally visited the Afrikan Shrine to meet Femi Anikulapo-Kuti in order to ensure that all went on smoothly. The party was billed to start from the night of Christmas to the Boxing Day (26th) so Ezego decided to start his trip from Lagos on the 23rd of December. But little did he know that all his efforts were in vain. He was unconsciously planning for his own funeral. But what precisely happened?
On the 23rd of December, Ezego left Lagos as planned, heading towards the southeastern region of Nigeria. He took off in a most flashy style, in a convoy of six of his finest automobiles. These included a Lincoln Navigator (1999 model), limousine, blue Porsche, Lexus jeep, a Cherokee jeep and a latest Honda. The interesting thing about that fateful trip was that Ezego would normally fly to either Enugu or Port Harcourt where he would then be driven in a convoy to Ihiala. However, the fatal rates of air crashes during that period claimed to have made him change his mind. The outcome was disastrous for the mogul.
For some unknown reasons, Ezego decided to get behind his Lexus jeep in the convoy and drive himself all the way from Lagos to Ihiala. But somewhere along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the first trouble reared its nasty head.