Millions of Nigerians are counting their losses after the announcement of suspension of activities by online banking outfit, Mavrodi Mondial Movement (MMM), to which many Nigerians have committed their hard-earned money. In an announcement that sent shock waves than the spines of millions of MMM customers across the country, the online banking outfit said it had decided to suspend operations for one month from December 12, 2016 to January 12, 2017.
Similar operations of the outfit in countries like Russia, Zimbabwe and South Africa were said to have ended unceremoniously after people had committed huge sums to it, disrupting families, bringing marriages under severe pressure and leading many individuals to commit suicide. The ugly experiences of the aforementioned countries at the hands of MMM has naturally led many to conclude that Nigeria is about to have its own share of the bank’s bitter pill.
The current crisis has exposed many family members who had been patronising the outfit secretly, and the consequent feeling of betrayal has led a woman in Port Harcourt to declare an end to her marriage with her husband who had been patronising MMM without her knowing about it until the bubble bust.
Margret departed her matrimonial home on Wednesday after discovering that her husband was among the victims of MMM after previously denying having anything to do with it.
Margaret said: “I am leaving because I cannot live with a liar. He told me to lend him my business money, saying that he was going to pay back after one month. I warned him that he should not join the MMM, and he said he was going to use the money to execute a contract.
“Seeing his body language, after one week, I told him to promise me that the money I lent him was not for MMM. He said he could not lie to me and vowed that he would never have anything to do with them. But I was surprised when the news of the suspension of MMM’s operations broke yesterday, he went out, got himself drunk and came back to tell me that he was finished.
“It was then that I realised that my husband was into MMM, He borrowed N500,000 from me. He is a minister in our church. I have just told the pastor everything. I also told the pastor that I’m not going to continue with the marriage again.”
Mrs. Chiamaka Udu, who said she had invested N2 million in the venture, told our correspondent during the week that she was going to die.
She said: “Look I am going to die. I just provided help for some persons as directed by the website. Now I’m hearing this kind of news. I will not agree. How can I see them? I’m going to die. Tell me what to do now. Please sir, what do you think I should do? They paid me recently and I added all the money I have to provide help. They said they are coming back in January, but how sure?”
Another victim, Mr. Geoffrey Nnamdi, said: “Please, I don’t want to say anything. All I believe is that God will make a way. You can see me now I’m drinking to forget about it. If they reopen in January, I will thank God. If they fail to open, I will bear it. At least I will drink more.”
But another MMM customer, who identified himself simply as Mr. Jude, believes that what the outfit had taken from him was little compared to what he had taken from it.
He said: “We were the one that started MMM. While others are crying today, we are celebrating because I have since recovered my money. The money with them now is just a change. So if they want to take it, they should go ahead. But to be frank, I don’t think they are running away. People are just panicking.”
Mr. Chinedu Ejimadu, an MMM referee who said he had registered about 40 people, said that people were only panicking, adding that many people were ignorant of the letter posted on the website.
He said: “I can quote the letter for you. The letter said as usual, in the New Year season, the system is experiencing heavy workload. Moreover, it has to deal with the constant frenzy provoked by the authorities in the mass media.
“Things are still going well. The participants feel calm. Everyone gets paid. As you can see, there hasn’t been any payment delay or other problems yet. Moreover, there are almost three weeks left to the New Year. Hence on the basis of the above mentioned, from now on, all confirmed Mavro will be frozen for a month.
“The reason for this measure is evident. We need to prevent any problems during the New Year season, and then when everything calms down, this measure will be cancelled, which we will definitely do.
“Now tell me, what is wrong in this letter? But Nigeria media is today celebrating with the news, which is bad. This will make some ignorant people to feel bad or even commit suicide.”
A particularly pathetic case is one involving a primary school teacher and mother of three and her bedridden husband. Her son, who gave his name as Sopulu, said they had received the pension of his bedridden father from the Pensions Commission.
Sopulu said: “The money came directly to our mum who is the next of kin, according to the form filled by our dad. Mummy’s friend, who lives four houses away from us, convinced her to invest the money in MMM. This she did after deducting an amount for our immediate needs. The rest she sent to MMM and here we are.”
He said they could not tell their dad about the development because of his precarious health condition. “To be fair to our mum, we were not against her investing the money in MMM. Even now that the venture seems to have collapsed and she has developed high blood pressure, we are giving her all the support, hoping that it shall be well by January as they promised.”
Sopulu is a 400 level engineering student of Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT).
In Anambra State, there have been lamentations among many MMM customers, some of who invested close to N10 million and had been using the proceeds to build houses.
A woman who was said to have registered one million naira cried all day, having failed to heed the advice of her husband not to venture into it. The husband (name withheld) revealed that his wife disobeyed him by registering one million naira in the MMM venture but had since been regretting and crying her eyes out.
But a cyber café operator at Aroma Junction, Awka, Mr. Martin Okafor, stated that he had no regrets being a part of the MMM saga. He said the business outfit was meant to help the poor as recession had hit the country, adding that the business would resume on January 12, 2017.
The reason it was shut down, according to Okafor, was to stop people travelling for Christmas not to upload fake tellers and to stop the imbalance of the system during the Yuletide, getting help than providing it.
In Ado-Ekiti, anxious customers trooped to various banks to withdraw cash. They lined up for several hours inside the banking halls and in front of automated teller machines (ATMs) but went home frustrated.
Frustrated MMM customers were noticed at banks located in areas like Ijigbo, Ajilosun, Okeyinmi, Okesa and Secretariat Road, which has the largest concentration of banks in Ado Ekiti, the state capital. The same scenario played out in towns like Ikere, Ikole, Ilawe, Aramoko, Igede, Omuo, Ifaki, Oye, Ise and Emure.
An investor in MMM, Tunde Ogunsakin expressed frustration at the turn of events, saying he found it difficult to believe that the financial network would return on January 12 as promised.
“My brother, this development came to me as a rude shock because I just recently invested about N350,000 from my textile business hoping to reap returns very shortly, but see what has happened now.”
Another MMM investor was heard telling his friend: “My parents warned me against investing my money in MMM but I told them that nothing ventured nothing gained. But you can see now that the risk taken has backfired.”
Segun Asubiojo, who declined to reveal the amount he invested, said: “I logged into my personal system only to find a message that all my confirmed mavros had been frozen till January 2017 due to overload.
“This will be detrimental to the community because Nigerians are easily scared and they will panic so badly that no one would even portray fraudulent behaviours to Nigerian population hindering newcomers from joining.”
A student, Dupe Esan said: “When we started putting our funds in the scheme, one could get assistance within seven days. But this later changed to 14 days. And when we were shut out, the waiting period was 21 days.
“What it simply means is that the number of people in need of help has outnumbered the number of people joining. Right now, we have nowhere to get our money which we invested.”
In Warri where many residents have joined the scheme, the reactions to the freezing of the scheme has been diverse. While some are still very optimistic of a comeback, others, who are also waiting to ‘get help’, see it as the back side of a risky venture.