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Biography of Cecilia IBRU

Nigeria > Finance : Cecilia IBRU

Cecilia IBRU
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Born on 22/03/1946 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

Cecilia Ibru (born on March 22 ,1946) was the former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Oceanic Bankand and was one of the most powerful women in Nigeria, if not in all of Africa until this day of August 2009 when she  turned herself into the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. She appeared in court alongside  three other senior banking executives in Nigeria. They all deny charges that they were involved in a multi-billion dollar banking scandal. She is curently on bail and is the only member of the "Five" bankers to have met the required bail conditions.

She was sentenced in October 2010 on twenty five counts of fraud and ordered to reimbourse 1.29bn (approx 1one Billion Euros), she was ordered to serve six months of prison.

Anti-corruption police brought criminal charges against executives from five banks rescued in a 400bn naira ($2.6bn; £1.6bn) government bail-out.

All the banks were found to have low cash reserves because of bad loans.

 Cecilia Ibru: First Lady of Banking and was a role model for many young africans. Oceanic Bank was founded by the Ibru family which is the largest shareholder in the bank.
Cecilia Ibru, managing director and chief executive officer of Oceanic Bank International, one of the fastest and most profitable banks in Nigeria, is by any measure a remarkable person. She confounds all expectations of what a banker must be, except in her ability to make some of the shrewdest decisions in the country’s financial sector.

Ibru herself attributes her success to “a mindset that is dependent on God’s inspiration and the desire to actualise. One thing is to have a vision,” she says, “the other is the ability to dissect it, strategise and achieve it”. Ibru received a BSC (Honours) in Sociology from London University in 1971, a Master of Philosophy from North East London University and a Certificate of Eligibility from the Council of Legal Education in London.She cut her teeth in the business world by working with the Ibru Organisation, founded and headed by her husband, Olorogun Michael Ibru. Even at 61, Cecilia Ibru, who was born one of twins, is still a beautiful woman. Her husband, Michael Ibru, himself a Mohammed Ali look-a-like, is no less a personable individual. She still cherishes the memories of working with him in his company. “He knew what he wanted. But because I worked under him, I think I was rather privileged. He gave me my responsibilities and I discharged them to the best of my ability. We had that kind of mutual expectation that I would always give my best in whatever I was asked to do”. Putting in her best paid off. She became the managing director of Oceanic Bank international in 1997.

Highly respected among her peers as the ‘First Lady’ of Nigeria’s banking industry, Ibru was the first female leader to raise her bank’s equity to N25bn, (approx $203m), the first female to head the 5th largest bank and the 9th largest company quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the first female CEO of a Western Union Agency in West Africa to meet the performance and turnover targets of Western Union, and in year 2000, the first female CEO to post over N1bn profit ($8.143m at today’s value) in a financial statement. In April 2007, Oceanic Bank International came in at number 110 in African Business’ Top 200 African Companies rankings, 12th in the West African sub-region and 16th in sub-Saharan Africa.

 ”. Oceanic Bank International has become the most recognisable face of the sprawling Ibru business empire which includes publishing, hotels, manufacturing and the oil and gas sector. Ibru does not feel that she is under any pressure to outdo other enterprises within the empire. She says the founder of the conglomerate, Olorogun Michael Ibru, is a man of wisdom.
He has given everybody their own responsibilities. Therefore you run with yours. There is no way we criss-cross each other. It is like establishing parallels that need not cut across each other. Everybody is running on his own steam. Who is running fastest, that is the favour of God. That’s the way I look at it.”


A former Nigerian bank chief has been sentenced to six months in prison for fraud and ordered to hand over $1.2bn (£786m) in cash and assets.

Cecilia Ibru, former CEO of Oceanic Bank, pleaded guilty to three of 25 counts of fraud and mismanagement.

She is one of a large number of executives held in connection with the near-collapse of nine banks in 2009.

The verdict is sending shockwaves through Nigeria's financial world, says the BBC's Caroline Duffield in Abuja.

Related stories

'Making progress'

Mrs Ibru's sentence was the result of a settlement agreement, Judge Dan Abutu told the court in Lagos on Friday.

Her three sentences are for six months each, but will run concurrently. This means she will spend only six months in jail, our correspondent says.

"This is an indication that we are making progress in the war against graft in the country," Farida Waziri, who heads Nigeria's anti-corruption agency, said in a statement.

The government removed Mrs Ibru along with other executives from a number of financial institutions in 2009.

The central bank then had to step in and bail out nine banks which were on the brink of collapse because of reckless lending and fraud.

Mrs Ibru belongs to an elite family, which controls massive business interests across the country. She was famous on Nigeria's party circuit for her jewellery and her taste for corporate jets, our correspondent says.


Until her arrest, the former banker had been considered beyond the reach of the fraud police, our correspondent adds. 

Last update : 09/25/2015

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