A Lagos State-based businesswoman, Osuji Onyedikanne, has accused an unknown Senior Police Officer of running a fraud syndicate in Lagos State and assisting suspected members of such syndicates to evade justice.
This much was contained in a petitioned addressed to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi.
The CP, who is aware of the incident following the petition, appeared to be helpless as it has become apparent that an unknown Senior Police Officer is calling the shot.
It was alleged that this officer, immediately suspected syndicate members are arrested, would call and the Investigating Police Officers would start running and scampering about in fright and obeisance and before one could say Jack Robison, these members would saunter out of the police station.
In the petition dated April 8, 2022, addressed to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Onyedikanne, who runs a travels and tours company, alleged that the unfortunate incident which led going to her going to the police, seeking for justice and closure, started in February 2022.
This was the period when one Mrs. Stephens colluded with others to defraud her in the guise of involving her in her business.
Onyedikanne said that she met Stephens at an event in Lagos in 2019 and they had chatted and had since remained in communication.
In April 2022, Stephens came to her with four men, including a self-proclaimed lawyer, identified simply as Emeka, and lured her into funding a business which she was meant to believe she would be part of.
They used the name of a dubious company given as Golden Knights Ltd/Golden Knights International Sports Ltd, and claimed that they use the company to recruit upcoming football stars for trial in Spain.
They printed and distributed fliers and made claims of collaborating with the Nasarawa State Government as well as the Embassy of Spain, for which they tendered several documents that made her feel convinced about the genuineness of the business.
They collected from her the initial sum of N6 million and seeing that they had won her confidence, Stephens later came back and collected another sum of N4.5 million in the pretense that she was investing it in another business for her.
The Executive Director of Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, Okechukwu Nwanguma, who is fighting for justice for the victim, said: “She informed us that what convinced her to facilitate the last loan of N6million for them was because they showed her a document written in Spanish which they claimed was an MOU they reached and signed with the Consular, Spanish Embassy Lagos. They claimed that the Consular had agreed to be issuing them visas if they register the company in Spain and then fund the account with about €10,000 – €20,000 and leave the money in the account for two weeks as proof of funds.
“After receiving the money, they absconded and were no longer taking her calls. It was then she realised that they were a syndicate of fraudsters which specialise in defrauding innocent citizens in the guise of investments in importation, exportation, and business establishment. She said she later found out that there were other victims who had been defrauded by this same syndicate and who are still making efforts to recover their money but to no avail as they seem to be enjoying the cover of a particular senior police officer who always intervenes to get them released whenever they were arrested by the police. This has emboldened them to continue in their criminal activities. One of the syndicate members, Emeka, who laid doubtful claims to being a lawyer always boasts of being a member of the Buccaneers secret cult and threatened to send his cult member after victims if they pressed too much for refund. This has been the fate of Onyedikanne.”
Nwanguma stated that when the complainant eventually got them, they threatened her life and those of her beloved ones.
Within this period, her aged father was kidnapped and because she was in dire financial straits as a result of the huge losses she had incurred to these fraudsters, she had to borrow to pay the ransom demanded by the kidnappers to free her aged father from captivity.
All this has combined to put her in serious debts and pressure from clients whom she collected money from to procure visas and travel documents for.
Onyedikanne attached all the relevant documents to her petition evidencing the transactions and communications between her and Stephens, including evidences of payments into the two bank accounts provided by Stephens.
CP Alabi was said to have promptly responded to her appeal to use his good offices to ensure that the fraudsters were arrested and brought to book before they executed their threats to eliminate her and her family members.
The CP approved the petition and directed it to the Special Investigation Bureau to investigate.
The suspects were arrested on April 13, 2022 at about 6:45pm.
But to her chagrin, they were released as soon as she left the police station without any communication to her or any commitment of payment or any investigation.
The police team promise to obtain a search warrant to be executed on the suspects’ residences is yet to be fulfilled.
As soon as they were released, the suspects went to parade themselves in front of the complainant’s office in a show of being untouchable.
Onyedikanne called the two Investigating Police Officers identified as Wale and the other simply called ‘Accountant’ and later also called the team leader, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, Dominic Amechi, but none of them picked her calls.
After the Easter holidays, she went to the Command headquarters to inquire what transpired and the IPOs told her that “one Oga called for their release on the grounds that they were to pay N1,000,000, that same day and bring N2,000,000.00 the next four days.”
Nwanguma said: “They placated her and assured her that they were on top of the matter. By the time she went back to the Command four days later, which was on 19th April, the suspects had not dropped any money at all and IPO Dominic was nowhere to be found. She then went to the Officer in charge of Special Investigation Bureau (SIB), a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Mohammed Alkasim, who, after listening to her, ordered that the suspects should be re-arrested and detained since they did not keep to their promise.
“He directed Superintendent of Police (SP), named Justice, to stand in brief for Dominic since he was not around.
“Justice reminded Emeka, the self-acclaimed lawyer and a member of the syndicate that they had promised, in his presence, to pay N2million before their release and up to that date they were yet to bring any money.
“Emeka responded that the money was intact in their account and that it would not take them an hour to bring out the money.
“Justice asked why they did not want to give the woman her money and instead subjecting her to stress. Emeka kept mum.
“Justice then said they were to be detained and Onyedikanne left the command at about 9:45pm. When she called in the morning, to find out if they had brought some money, she was informed that they had been released again, on the intervention of the same faceless ‘Oga’ and that the ‘Oga’ facilitated the suspects’ release at 12am.”
While this was still going on, Onyedikanne said IPOs Dominic and ‘Accountant’ called and asked her to bring Stephens’ passport, which the woman had dropped with her as part of the collateral for the loan.
The police threatened her that if she did not return the passport, she would become an accused in her own case.
Onyedikanne, who was shocked to her bone marrows, asked what they were talking about, to which they responded that it was another order from the same “Oga.”
The human rights activist said: “She asked them ‘what about my N9.5m and my clients’ passports which the same syndicate is holding?’ They said it didn’t matter. She said that because the fraudsters believed they had fully compromised the police, they have refused to bring the six passports of her clients till now, insisting that they would only bring the passports on the condition that she returns Stephen’s passport. She decided to go back to the CP, and after explaining her predicaments, she said the CP was angry but held back his reservations and asked her to go and see the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of Operations, Mohammed Kontagora, which she did.
“Kontagora instructed the O/C SIB to invite the suspects back to the command. Till date, the suspects are yet to show up after three appointments and invitations for them to come even on the orders of the DC Ops.
“The IPOs would say the suspects changed the date to a convenient date and yet they would not show up at the next date.”
“Onyedinanne said she informed the police that Stephens and her son, Desmond, who is also a member of the syndicate, have been living at Dohela Hotels & Suites, 6, Ijero Street by Kilo Bus Stop, Ikate, Surulere, Lagos since June 2021, without any defined means of livelihood, but they refused to do anything about it, rather they pass all the information to the suspects thereby endangering her life.”
Nwanguma noted that owing to the indication that the investigators at the SIB, Lagos State Police Command might have been compromised by allowing the fraud syndicate suspects to dictate the pace of investigation for asking the complainant to return the prime suspect’s passport which she dropped as part of collateral, while she was still holding six of her clients’ passports, and was yet to pay back the money she fraudulently obtained from her, and with the investigators threatening to “turn the complainant into the accused” if she failed to return the accused person’s passport, Onyedikanne stated that she had lost confidence in the SIB team.
The complainant appealed to the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba, to urgently direct the Assistant Inspector General of the Force Criminal Investigations Department, Alagbon, Lagos to take over the investigation with a view to ensuring a prompt, impartial and exhaustive investigation, ensuring that these fraudsters pay back her money, release her clients’ passports, and are also fully unraveled to identify other crimes they had perpetrated against other unsuspecting citizens.