The story of Dr Umana is something many of you may be too young to know or had ever heard of but the story is not fiction nor from a story book but its rather real and it happened in Nigeria.
It was In the mid 1980s, as usual since the 70s I was on my annual holiday in Port Harcourt (my place of birth) from England. A day after my arrival, a cousin of mine that also lives in Port harcourt and a teacher by profession came to me and after all the niceties asked to borrow some money from me and I asked her how much? And she said 35 thousand naira!
I nearly fell off my seat or had a heart attack and I asked, what she needed such amount of money for and how long she thinks it will take her to pay me back if I am mad enough to give her that sort of money?
Then I thought I was day dreaming when she said that she will pay me back with interest before I return back to England (i.e in 4 weeks time).
It was then she told me that a new booming business based in Aggrey Road in Port Harcourt called Umana Bank for the past six months and it works this way: Whatever you deposited into the Umana Bank after full 4 weeks, you can withdraw your entire deposit with a whopping 100% interest paid to you in full. I laughed like I had never laughed before and said to her that she is either mad or had been conned by some people that want to con some money she never had.
Then my host, another relative of mine, looked at me and smiled and he told me that my cousin is telling the truth and as a matter of fact, he too had deposited 50 thousand naira and his deposit is due to be cashed within few days and I can come with him on the day of withdrawal.
I knew now that if this is a joke, it must be an expensive one because I think my whole family has conspired to con me using this made up story or something is wrong somewhere.
Because my host is a very intelligent businessman who owes three big petrol servicing stations in Port Harcourt and another two in Aba/Orlu.
Then he took me outside and pointed out to me a brand new Toyota Crown car he claimed to ha have just bought and he told me that it was from the interest he earned from Umana Bank the month bedore. As the evening wore on I start to meet many old friends and relatives and each time I met anyone, Umana Bank is the centre of the all discussions. Everyone is at, it seems. Young, old, poor, rich, middle class, intellectual etc, everyone has or has cashed their deposit with Umana Bank.
I spent the entire week trying to figure out what was happening, and I start to get the best picture of what is happening with the Umana Bank wildfire when on a trip to Aba, I was having launch with comrade of mine in the Biafra army, who is from Ikot Abasi in the old Cross River state and who happens to be a Bank manager of ACB branch in Aba and I asked him whether he had heard about this Umana Bank in Port Harcourt?
And he confirmed that Umana Bank is real.
He went on to said that almost all Banks in the old East has ran out of cash because everybody has withdrew their entire cash to deposit with Umana Bank and then he whispered to me that he too had borrowed 50 thousand Naira from his own bank illegally to deposit with Umana Bank and how he was having nightmare for a whole month his money was there and how he could not believed it when at the end of the month, he went to Port Harcourt, not only he cashed his 50K naira but got another 50K naira cash in interest.
How he discreetly put the original cash back to his bank and is using his 50K naira windfall to start finishing a storey building (house) he had been struggling to build for the past 5 years in his village and he has also bought himself a fairly used 505 GL which he showed me and that he has deposited another 10K from his windfall from Umana Bank.
Going back to my host, he kept his words weeks later when he asked me to accompany him to cash his deposit of 70K.
And couldn’t wait to go with him because it still sound unreal, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
On getting there, the crowd of depositors and withdrawal stretched over two miles if I am not exaggerating. I saw all sorts of people, from traders to rich people to even police/army/navy/air force personnel in their uniforms lining up and there was rumour going round too that even the then military governors around and all their commissioners has put their cash in Umana Bank.
I could not stand in the line with my host for that long and I had drive down to Owerri for some meeting and later returned back to P.H and he was still there and after almost 8 hrs he went into the building and 30 minutes later, he came back to the car and I drove off heading home and he was singing through out the short journey home
And to my GREATEST amazement, when we got into the house, I was nervous and also excited and he opened the ruck sack and there it was- bundles of Naira notes and he was dancing around the front room with his wife and kids and when he settled down later.
He started counting the cash and to my astonishment again it was 140K Naira cash in total as he claimed a week before that he will get.
I am now convinced that Umana Bank is real for whatever this guy is doing but the question I kept asking was:
Who is this Dr Umana E Umana?
What is going on?
What does it do with the money deposited with him?
Is he licensed by the then government (IBB govt) .
And has anyone ever heard of such an interest return before?
Few weeks later, I returned back to England and couldn’t wait to tell my wife, and she said to be that a great fraud is happening but never has she heard how open it was.
But exactly a week after my return, I got a call very early in the morning from my relative/host. His first word was: Umana has collapsed and with my 40K Naira with it!
I asked him what happened?
He said, everything is still very sketchy but it seemS that they woke up one morning and saw the whole of Port Harcourt city like in a war situation with thousands heavily armed army, police all over the city drawn from all over Nigeria, sent by the order of IBB to stop Umana’s operation, arrest him and bring him to Abuja.
He then told me that a bungalow at Creek Road situated among many other houses was the house Umana used to keep the cash without the faintest knowledge of anyone.
Then story start to emerge about those that had sold everything they got to deposit it after cashing the initial small some and I was told millions of people lost their money. As everything Nigeria- Dr Umana was whisked to Abuja, till today, no one heard of him again or his money or any enquiry set up by IBB’s government to tell the world/Nigeria who this man is and what he was doing?
Umana and Umana Bank just disappeared into tin air till this day.
Interesting conversation going on there about this topic. Some say he is now in Malaysia. Others say other things.