By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
These are not the best of times for an octogenarian close political associate of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The Chieftain of defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and grand daughter of Alafin of Oyo, Hon. (Dr.) Victoria Aliu Akinyele did not envisage that her twilight days would be that miserable.
The one time International businesswoman and employee of John Holt whose children are resident abroad fell victim to the nefarious activities of fraudsters and before she knew it, she had parted with a whooping sum of N200 million within three years. The old woman who is presently bedridden as a result of the shock after losing almost all she worked for in life, has taken her plight to Area F Police command in Ikeja with a view to bringing those that duped her to book.
On its part, detectives attached to the Area Crime Office in Area F, have succeeded in arresting a 44-year-old man identified as Partrick Momoh of number 21, Bajulaye Road, Somolu, Lagos as the suspected brain behind the fraud. Though police sources said the suspect has refused to confess his alleged atrocities, some of the properties he used the money to buy have been impounded. They include; an exotic jeep, one Mercedes Benz car and a Toyota Camry.
Police sources said the whole drama started in 2007 when one Barrister Fayemiro (now at large), introduced the suspect to Mama and brainwashed her towards embarking on viable investments that will yield profitable dividends. The highly ecstatic old woman whose children are all resident abroad unknowingly fell into their criminal trap by firstly, agreeing to invest in the erection of a twin-duplex for her, a contract which the suspect collected about N56 million from her.
It was learnt that when the suspect failed to deliver, Mama was apprehensive and sought for him. Before Mama knew what was happening, the suspect disappeared with about N22 million out of the money earlier released for the duplex without finishing the job.
Crime Alert learnt that the suspect later resurfaced, pleaded passionately for forgiveness and vowed to turn a new leaf. Unconfirmed sources said he even took an oath with the old woman to be of good behaviour and to henceforth stick to their agreement. Based on this, it was gathered that he started scheming again and ended up brainwashing the old, lonely woman to part with another huge amount of money on the pretext of opening a bank to be called â€˜Pound Sterling Bank â€˜with Mama as the Chairperson.
It was learnt that when Mama approached her bank to collect a huge sum of $31,000, the bank raised alarm and insisted on knowing the kind of business she wanted to use the money for but Mama refused disclosing it and later went away with the money and handed it over to the suspect.
Subsequently, the suspect allegedly came up with many other proposals aimed at milking the old woman dry. He demanded money to float a political party with former Military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida and the present Head of State, Umaru Musa Yaâ€˜adua and Mama obliged him by dolling out more millions of naira.
While the unsuspecting old woman was busy waiting for the formation of the political party, the suspect allegedly brought many posters and flyers to convince her that the registration was in progress. After this, he struck again and informed her that the Ogoja traditional ruling Council has decided to honour her with a chieftaincy title and she parted with another huge sum of money.
Not contented, the suspect once again, allegedly approached Mama and this time, he veered into oil and gas business. He told her that the Federal government has decided to give her license to lift oil and Kerosene for sales and distribution nationwide. She quickly jumped at the offer and, once again, doled o
ut millions of naira for the project.
Sources said while all these things were going on, the suspect was living big, cruising round in exotic vehicles and buying shares and landed properties unknown to Mama who was busy emptying her life savings. He had offices at various points in Lagos. The name of the company he used in the transactions is Ponac Engr. Co.,Ltd., with addresses at the following places: 38, Atolabi Brown St., Akoka St., Yaba and 10, Lemilekun St., off Palolu St., Surulere, all in Lagos.
Crime Alert gathered that the bubble bust early last month when one of the old woman’s sons visited from aborad and bumped into some documents in her motherâ€˜s room. He reportedly confronted her for explanations but initially, the old woman could not open up until her son invited their family lawyer. Mama then let the cat out of the bag and narrated her business dealings with the suspect to them.
The enraged son of the old woman was said to had quickly ran to Area F, Police station in Ikeja to report the suspect. It was learnt that when detectives went in search of the suspect, he disappeared without trace. Four months later, he was sighted in the ever~busy Ikeja round about by the son of the woman who swiftly alerted the police and he was arrested.
Police sources said the suspect who is still in detention has refused to confess to his alleged crime even when detectives have been able to obtain documents from the banks where he cashed some of the cheques given to him by Mama. Some bank officials are also said to be aware of the transactions but they are not forth-coming with other vital documents. So far, Police is in possession of some of the properties the suspect bought with the money including some copies of the calendars printed in 2007 for the political party with Mamaâ€˜s photograph and bold inscription, Hon. Chief (DR.) V.A.Aliu, FccMgt, Pd.F, F.BSC, DLGA, WWGA, Chairman.
When the suspect was paraded at the office of the Police Public Relations Officer in Ikeja, Lagos Monday morning, he debunked most of the allegations by the grandma and stated unequivocally that he was ready to challenge the woman if she claimed he collected more than N22 million from her.
According to the man who was looking unrepentant: The only money I took from woman was only N22 million to build a house and also sink a bore hole for water. I am ready to challenge the woman if she claims I collected more than N22 million and she should be ready to bring her proof and evidenceâ€. The suspect also claimed that he introduced the womanâ€™s son, Rotimi to one Jeff who helped him in securing a travelling visa to Italy for N5 million.
â€œAlso when Rotimi was deported from Italy, he told me that he does not want to stay in this country and wanted to leave. I told him that since he was deported, it will be difficult for him to secure another International passport or a visa. So, I asked him to pay N1.5 million if he wanted to get a Virgin International passport which he paid. I want to say that I gave the woman receipt of all the payment she madeâ€.
The police Image Maker (Sp) Frank Mba who briefed newsmen during the parade said the suspect has a relationship with Mama both in business and on personal issues. However, Mba stated that the suspect is still innocent until he is proven guilty by a competent court of law.
He hinted that the case is of great interest to the police and the Commissioner of police Lagos State. Cp Marvel Apkoyibo has ordered that intense investigations be carried into the case because it involves a large sum of money which was obtained under false pretence. When asked how the suspect was arrested he said that the suspect has been on the police wanted list but he was apprehended at an undis-closed location in Ikeja.