The proprietor of popular Abuja school Deo-Gratias International School, Dr George Odabi, is currently enmeshed in a huge debt scandal that has cost him ownership of the Deo-GratiasGroup of Schools. According to a top source close to the Odabi’s who pleaded anonymity, trouble started for Dr George Odabi when Deo-Gratias International Group of Schools Ltd acting through her directors including Dr George Gerald Odabi sometimes in 2013 approached Eco-bank Nigeria Plc. for a facility, using the three schools in Games Village, FHA Lugbe and Garki among other properties of the company in favor of Eco-bank to secure a facility to enable it liquidate its indebtedness to GTBank and First City Monument, to upgrade some of the school campuses and secure a large expanse of land at Guzape for a new Secondary school campus with boarding facilities.
“The company ran into distress through the extravagant lifestyle of Dr George Odabi and defaulted in repayment of the loan/interest on the due date. The loan was restructured at their instance from N1,200,000,000,00 to N600, 000,000.00 . Yet, he failed to abide by the loanrepayment schedule and domiciliation of all school fees to a collection account with Eco-bank but rather engaged in diversion of funds coming into the coffers of the School to other banks.”
“After spirited attempts by officials of Eco Bank Plc. to get Dr George Odabi to liquidate its loan fell on deaf ears. The case was taken to Court and by an order of the Federal High Court of 15th June 2016; leave was granted to Eco-bank Plc. to take over the three campuses of Deo-Gratias Schools with the aid of the Nigeria Police and bailiffs of the FHC.”
The source further added that Dr George Odabi through his lawyers contested the said order and finally conceded to enter Terms of Settlement with Eco-bank which was subsequently made the consent judgment of the Court.
“His lawyers contested the order of the Federal High Court because according to them Eco-Bank Plc. did not give their clients enough notice. The Federal High Court refused to set aside its order and this led both parties to enter into a Terms of Settlement which was adopted and made judgment of the Court with the appointment of a receiver/manager to take over the operations of three schools and agreed that N100,000,000.00k will be paid by the group of school each academic year for six years free of interest and yet Dr. George Odabi frustrated the arrangements with his profligacy leading to the takeover and sale of the Garki School to new owners to liquidates part of the outstanding judgment debt owed Eco-Bank Plc.”
Another source who craved anonymity told the reporter that “Out of the three school under receivership, the school at Games village was demolished in 2018 and the campus at F.H.A Lugbe clandestinely sold by one Mr. Osondu Ekekwe in collusion with Kingsley Odabi, Sukki Odabi and Chief Odera Odabi despite the fact that the Receiver/Manager had filed criminal contempt proceedings against them, in fact the situation is grin” the source said.
Another source who works with Eco-Bank Plc. and conversant with the transaction stated that Dr George Odabi was evasive for three years despite all entreaties made by the Bank for him to liquidate his loan.
“The appointment of a receiver/manager by the court was a huge relief for the bank as Dr Odabi was not forthcoming and displayed criminal tendencies by refusing to domicile the school fees account of the schools with the bank.”
It was also gathered that the receiver/manager acting on the instructions of Eco Bank Plc. secured a buyer for the Garki campus of School. The deal was concluded with the new buyer accepting the offer made by the Bank for the takeover of the Garki campus of the School.
A top staffer of the School who does not want his name in print stated that under Dr George Odabi the School was confronted with issues such as poor welfare, inadequate and dilapidated school buses, poor service delivery, non-availability of school uniforms upon request and poor and porous security arrangements.”
He further added that workers are still being owed over three month’s salaries and several months on unpaid allowances.
“Workers and teachers have been groining over unpaid salaries, and in instances where salaries are paid, some manage to get as little as 20% of their total salary. It was such a terrible situation even though the school boasts of over 700 pupils and students from primary to secondary level.”
One Mercy Joseph , a top staff of the accounts department who confided in this newspaper, stated that Dr George Odabi is the architect of his misfortune due to his profligate lifestyle. She said that on numerous occasions, she had advised Dr Odabi on the consequences of his actions with regards to the indiscriminate disbursements of school funds.
“At some point, I was overwhelmed and wondered why on earth, someone would allow such an institution to go bankrupt. The School was doing well in terms of payment of school fees and other charges. However, Dr George Odabi would always direct for the indiscriminate transfer of funds from the school accounts to his accounts and that of his wives and concubines without recourse to the implications of his actions.”
“At times, he would instruct us to inform parents to make cash payments for school fees instead of bank deposits. This didn’t go down well with some parents, while some obliged. When these cash payments are made, Dr Odabi would send his driver to pick up cash from the school premises to God knows where.”
A parent, Amina Braimoh, said, the purchase and successful takeover of the School by one of the parents of the School is the best thing to happen.
“Under George Odabi, we suffered incomplete issuance of books and other study materials to pupils even after complete payment. It was a despicable display of criminal intents and motives. There was a backlog of staff salaries and this consequently affected the teaching standard in the School as most of the best hands left in droves.”
Another parent, who identified himself as Chinedu had this to say “This is the best news after this coronavirus pandemic! The new owners have a lot do. The old school had no library; the classrooms and laboratories are ill-equipped. But with the profile of the new owners, our children are in safe hands.”
Widespread jubilation amongst staff:
Our reporter gathered that there was widespread jubilation amongst the staff of the School when news filtered in about the takeover by the School by new owners. The staff danced and sang praises to God for the acquisition of the School.
An academic staff who pleaded anonymity stated that the exit of Dr George Odabi would bring back the glory of Deo-Gratis school even though the school might experience name change.
“The School was on the verge of total collapse. Dr Odabi was reckless and not interested in the success of the School. He used funds from the School to fund his extravagant lifestyle. He didn’t bother about the welfare of the staff and students alike as there was a general lack of everything needed in the School. It was indeed a sad episode for Deo-Gratias for some of us that have worked here for a long time.”
On April 15, 2014 The Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, arraigned George Odabi along with his company, Deo Gratias International School Limited, Abuja before Justice Peter Kekemeke of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja on a 3- count charge bordering on issuance of dud cheque and breach of trust
He was said to have sometime in September, 2013 received a forty million, one hundred thousand naira (N40, 100,000.00) loan from one Mrs. Egbunola Ogungbesan for the renovation of his school but reneged on his promise to pay back.
Conviction in the United States:
A further probe by this newspaper into the past of Dr Odabi revealed that he was convicted by a Los Angeles County Municipal Court (CA. for a criminal felony in 1994. A close associate of Dr Odabi, who preferred anonymity, stated that Dr Odabi left the United States of America under questionable circumstances.
“Yes, he was indeed charged to Court in Los Angeles in early 1990,s but I am not sure that was why he left the United States. But I can tell you that since he left, he hasn’t been able to return to the United States.”
Records obtained from Los Angeles County Municipal Court (CA), shows that George Odabiwas charged for Criminal Felony In 1994 With Case Number S01607801.
In a similar vein, this newspaper gathered from some top associates of Dr George Odabi that his criminal tendencies started way back in 1994 when he was arrested and charged to Court in the United States of America.