For the first time, former Golden Eaglets captain and Super Eagles midfielder, Wilson Oghenekevwe Oruma, has opened up on his travail in the hands of fraudsters, who duped him about N2 billion in his bid to establish himself after retiring from active football.
Oruma led the Eaglets to capture the FIFA U-17 World Cup at Japan ’93. He went on to help the U-23 team to win gold medal at Atlanta ’96 Olympics. In his attempt to establish a business empire for himself after his retirement from active football, Oruma ‘walked’ into the hands of some fraudsters, who claimed to be in possession of some oil blocks they wanted to sell.
The two times African Nations Cup bronze medallist pumped his investments across Europe, also withdrew his life savings for the ‘oil business,’ not suspecting any foul play. Things soon turned out to be a fraud, and since then, Oruma had not been himself. The once celebrated Eagles star lost his mind for about two years. At a point, there were media reports that the Delta State indigene was battling with insanity.
In his bid to bring Oruma back from his misfortune, the President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, included him as part of the Nigerian contingent to the on-going FIFA World Cup in Russia, to enable him mix up with people from different parts of the World, particularly his former colleagues in foreign clubs. The idea paid off, as Oruma says he is grateful to the NFF boss and his board members. He also thanked Nigerians for their prayers and support during the time of his difficulties.
However, Oruma has sent words to those behind his travail to consider his condition and return his money. “This is my first time of speaking with any journalist on this,” Oruma told The Guardian at his Park INN Hotel in St. Petersburg shortly before he departed for Nigeria. It is true that I lost all my savings to some people, who turned out to be fraudsters. I have read several stories in the media since then. Those stories did not emanate from me. They quoted different amount, which is not correct. I lost close to N2 billion.
“The most painful aspect of it all was the fact that some of my relations were involved in the deal. You can imagine losing such huge amount of money to people you trusted. I pray for them to have a human heart and return my money, even if it is part of it. That is my prayer every day, and I know that one day, the hand of God will torch their hearts,” he stated.
Oruma, who played club football alongside the likes of Frank Ribery and Samir Nasri in his days at Olympique Marseille FC of France is pleading with Nigerians to give Amaju Pinnick another term in office to enable him position the nation’s football very well.
“I know that many Nigerians are not happy with the way the Super Eagles crashed out of the World Cup in the first round, but I want people to realize that Amaju actually tried his best for the team. For the first time in the history of Nigeria’s participation in the World Cup, there was no complaint from the players and their coaches on issues concerning payment of bonuses and allowances. There was no problem between the players and the NFF, and that is because Amaju was able to think ahead, worked hard to get sponsorship from various quarters.
“In my playing days, most times, we returned home from a major competition without any kobo because those in the NFA then will say there is no money. Sometimes, we get half of what was supposed to come to us, and sometimes, we don’t get at all. But Amaju has been able to change all that, and I want football-loving Nigerians to look at his positive side. He has taken care of many ex-internationals, and it is a big plus for our football. In life, no one knows everything. There may be some mistakes somewhere, but the Amaju I know is ready to make amend for our football to grow bigger. Stopping him from continuing in office might affect us internationally because Amaju has placed Nigeria high at both the CAF and FIFA.
“Maybe, the area Amaju needs to concentrate more efforts is the Nigerian league, particularly the issue of officiating. I have taken my time to attend some of our league matches, and the main problem has been officiating. The local league is the bedrock of football in any country, and he needs to channel more energy into it. But he needs the support of all Nigerians to fix it,” Oruma stated.
About two years ago former Golden Eagles Captain/Super Eagles star player, Wilson Oruma, was reported to be battling with insanity after he was duped by fraudsters introduced to him by a Lagos-based frontline Pentecostal Pastor, (name withheld) whose church (name withheld) is located in the Surulere area of the state.
In a report by New Telegraph Online,Oruma’s travail started in 2012 when the Pastor in question invited the former victorious Golden Eaglets captain to a private meeting in the church to discuss the possibility of investing heavily into what he described as a lucrative business where he promised to invite the mega bucks investors to the church a week later. A date was fixed for this.
It was at the second meeting, it was gathered that the former Atlanta 96 Olympic gold medallists was introduced to some well-dressed gentlemen who were said to be in possession of some oil blocks they were ready to sell to the rich ex-international. Oruma, who acted alone without consultation with any of his lawyers and his close friend, Mr. Emakpor Dibofun, believed the story of the fraudsters and never suspected any foul play as they were introduced by his Pastor.
He was advised to invest heavily so as to yield heavy profit. The two-time African Nations Cup bronze medallist, withdrew funds from all his investments across Europe in three months and withdrew his life savings to ensure he pumped enough money into the oil business. He did not suspect any foul play as the Pastor kept assuring him that, the people are credible and are God fearing business investors.
In all, Oruma paid a whopping N1.2billion into the dedicated bank account given to him to make payments which he did over six months. The ex-soccer star that played alongside Frank Ribery and Samir Nasri in his days at Olympique Marseille FC of France started suspecting foul play when he did not hear from the people again and they failed to pick their mobile phones on days scheduled for important updates. He ran to his Pastor for possible succour and reassurance that all was well, but instead the Pastor rebuffed Oruma and told him that, he was a full-time minister of God who knew nothing about oil business, but only introduced him to those he believed could help make his business empire larger.
The Pastor asked if he was involved in the business dealings all the while and the answer was a capital no. He thus divorced himself from any blames leaving the soccer star to lick his own wounds but he was not strong enough to withstand the attendant psychological pressure. A few weeks after this ordeal, Oruma started behaving funny. He started talking to himself and had hot altercations with his wife at their Victoria Garden City home in Lagos.
It was gathered that, it was after one of the series of altercations with his wife who blamed him for the family’s misfortune and huge loss of money that Oruma busted out of their home in VGC and stormed a popular supermarket where he destroyed valuables. He was wrestled to the floor, with his legs and hands tied to avoid further destruction.
From this day in 2012, Oruma’s unstable mind became pronounced. His close friend, Emakpor with his hands and legs tied took the soccer star to a church in Warri, Delta state for spiritual healing. After destroying valuables in the church, Oruma escaped to his VGC home in Lagos where he continued to disturb residents. It was also learnt that with his unstable mind, he gave out one of his expensive SUVs worth N14million to a friend who speedily drove away the vehicle.
The ex-international was tied and closely monitored in his Aguda home for over one year as the family sought spiritual healing for him. The player, who started his football career at Tamuno Babes FC of Warri, was not taken to an orthodox mental hospital in his family’s attempt to conceal his ailment from the public.
Oruma suffered untold hardship for two years as his family with the help of his close friend and former teammate, Emakpor Dibofun, took him to number Pentecostal churches in Lagos seeking spiritual healing. The much desired healing eventually came few weeks ago when he was given a clean bill of health as he overcame the mental illness. He has started walking again as the sores on his legs from long period of being tied down in one place are healing fast.
In the words of Oruma’s kid brother, Dominic a former Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles goalkeeper; “Wilson is recovering fast, he now recognizes his family members and he has returned to his house in VGC under the care of his wife. We are very happy about this. It was not easy seeing him suffer so much in the last two years after his money was taken away. We give God the glory for the gift of healing.
“He has told us not to press charges against the pastor who brought fraudsters to dupe him heavily as he said the incident is now in the past. Another good thing is that all his properties are intact and most of his major investments are doing fine.” Oruma was captain of the Nigeria Under-17 team that won the 1993 FIFA U-17 World Cup where he emerged the tournament’s top goal scorer with six goals. He played 19 international matches over 11 years for Nigeria and was part of the team that participated in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, where he scored in the only appearance he made in the tournament against Paraguay. He was also a part of the squad that won the Olympic gold medal in 1996, a year after he debuted for Nigeria.
He played for the Eagles at the 2002 and 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, finishing both competitions at third place. Oruma played most of his club career in France, after arriving at RC Lens in 1994. He was loaned to Nancy a year after. He returned to Lens and played in their 1997-98 Ligue 1 title campaign.
He moved to Turkish side Samsunspor in 1998 and returned to France one year later to play for Nîmes. In 2000, he was transferred to Swiss side Servette, played two seasons before coming back to France again, where he played until 2009 for Sochaux, Marseille and Guingamp, winning the 2003-04 Coupe de la Ligue with Sochaux and the 2008-09 Coupe de France title with Guingamp. The former Nigerian international announced his retirement from football at the age of 33 on November 26, 2010.
He last played his international football for Kavala FC of Greece, before bidding farewell to football