As a seasoned criminal journalist of Virginia, Obi’s case fascinated me as I wondered how a successful businesses man that graced the front pages of several business magazines found himself in jail.
I reached out to Obinwanne Okeke, popularly known as Invictus Obi, for a prison interview and he kindly accepted. I met Obi on a hot summer August day where he greeted me with a firm handshake, a confident smile, and the charisma of someone very intellectual. My interview was to find out his journey, thoughts, and regrets as he now starts his 10-year prison sentence.
Hi Obi, thanks for accepting this interview, how are you doing?
I am doing very well thank you, I am alive and healthy which I always give thanks for.
How is your reality now you have started serving your 10-year sentence?
The transition from the outside world to prison is hard but I have to face the music. I did what I did and I accept the consequences. I am just making sure I become a better man day by day.
Let’s go back a bit, how would you describe Nigeria growing up?
Nigeria is great when you are young and naive but when you become old enough to fend for yourself you quickly realize that Nigeria is a hazardous obstacle course that most will never navigate their way through. Nigeria is a beautiful country but poverty is too widespread and you can’t rely on the government for help but you have to find your own way. Basic needs such as 24 hours electricity is unheard of, fuel scarcity is common, inflation is high and many are dying of hunger. Most Nigerians are in a state of desperation.
How did the journey to the frauds you are accused of come about?
I was doing a little here and there but the level changed through this one particular friend I used to look up to. I visited him one day and he was living very comfortably with three new cars and a huge house at a young age. When at his house I noticed him on a website www.vionz.to that was selling crypto and bank logins. I asked him about the website and he showed me that he buys bank and crypto logins from there and easily withdraws above $20,000 at a time, that’s how he was funding his lifestyle. In 15 minutes he demonstrated it to me and from there I tried it myself when I got home. After successfully doing my first transfer so easily it was hard to stop after that. From there I got introduced to other money-making schemes that got me where I am today.
How much money have you made from fraud?
I didn’t really keep count, I am a very ambitious person in anything I do regarding money. I believe I will always be an overachiever.
According to your case charges, you made $11 million?
Then there’s your answer, you already know the details.
People compare you to Hushpuppi (Abbas Ramon) who is also facing jail if found guilty, what are your thoughts?
It’s insulting, I and Hushpuppi are not on the same level. Hushpuppi could never achieve what I achieved. He cannot run a business and we are not similar in any way. He was out to please the crowd, I was out to change lives, create jobs, and conquer the business world. I have done so much for my community back home with my charity foundation, which lives has he helped? Nobody.
It sounds like you dislike Hushppupi?
No, I have never met him, but I just find the continued comparison very annoying. Our impact on the world is very different. I have made a much more positive contribution to society than he has.
What do you miss most about the outside life?
I miss being in business, I was a workaholic and most of my joy came from growing my businesses bigger and bigger. I miss family too and of miss my daughter.
Do you have any regrets?
Of course, I do, if I was a little more patient I could have achieved everything I achieved in business by not rushing to get startup capital the way I did, however, hopefully, I can be a lesson to the younger generation that may be tempted to take the quick route in life.
What’s your advice to the youth of Nigeria?
Pick your role models wisely, look up to great leaders and people of good character that look after their communities and families. Believe and you will achieve. Also, remember life is a marathon, not a sprint.