By Emma Nnadozie, Abdulwahab Abdulah & Tosin Adejuwon
MRS. Oyindamola Amuka, wife of Vanguardâ€™s publisher, Mr. Sam Amuka, yesterday gave a graphic detail of how she was duped by one Steve Chinua-Ogwu and his accomplices to the tune of N4 million.
Mrs Amuka made the revelations before Magistrate Badejo Okunsanya of an Ikeja Magistrate court.
The victim explained to the court how she was lured into paying the money from the beginning of the arranged ritual story to the time she was taken to the police station and forced to pay the sum of N4 million to save her family name from being dragged in the mud and also to end the threat to her life.
She said after several threats, she succumbed to paying the money to avoid the publication of some made-up photographs and video allegedly taken at a shrine in Ikorodu in some newspapers. Apart from this, she said her life was being threatened that if she disclosed what transpired between her and the people, she would pay dearly for it.
Led in evidence by a police prosecutor, Mr. Romanus Inuigbe, Mrs Amuka said she was introduced to one Alfa Fatai Adewale by a friend named Lola who took pity on the deteriorating condition of her son to seek spiritual solution to his health problem.
According to her, Alfa Adewale immediately promised to cure the sickness and requested for N300,000 for prayers and a sacrifice to be made with a cow.
Speaking further, she said she was taken to Ibadan where she paid N150,000 to the Alfa, but she realised that the situation remained the same which made her curious. However, she said the man calmed her down and said she will have to consult some other people in Ikorodu to perform sacrifices towards healing her child.
â€œWhen we got to Ikorodu, they requested for another money to buy some other things for the sacrifice. I told them I did not come with any money. We all agreed to come back the following day, including Chinua-Ogwu who was with us at the shrine.
â€œThe second day, the day they said we will perform the ritual, they asked me to pull off my blouse and I tied my wrapper, Alhaji Rasheed Alayande, Alfa Fatai, Chinua-Ogwu and one Ganiyu were at the said shrine that day. After that, they brought out a knife tied with cowries and said I should swear that whatever we say and agreed on at the place will not be revealed or discussed with anybody. I was also told that if I went against the oath, I will be killed. I was scared.
â€œAfter this, two people came and started chanting incantations with my eyes closed. They placed me on top of an object and Alhaji Alayande now placed my hands on the head of a small boy of about 13 years, chanting incantations. Later, I opened my eyes and saw the boy, I was scared, shivering and afraid.
â€œAlong the line, I noticed flashes from a camera. They asked me to pray, then I was asked to put on my dress. They now demanded for N3 million. I asked what was the money meant for, they told me they have to settle some people, I now told them I did not come with any money.â€
She said she later realised that the 13-year-old boy was Alhaji Alayandeâ€™s son who was brought to court few weeks back.
After this, she said she was asked to look for the money by all means, and she left the shrine, while agreeing to meet at the same place the third day. She disclosed she did not inform her husband because she was scared. Arriving at the scene, she said she met some people, while some others, including Chinua-Ogwu, the first accused person who joined them with a salon car and a taxi.
Later, she said he (Chinua-Ogwu) identified himself as a policeman, and declared that she was under arrest including those of them who performed the prayer session at the shrine. She said they took her photographs in handcuffs with her car. She said she was shocked to have seen Chinua-Ogwu to declare that he is a policeman. She said she was taken to Panti, where she was interrogated by a team of policemen led by one Tunde Omojola, who after the interrogation said they will call a press conference to expose her and her family, including her husband.
She explained that this development rattled her, but they told her to be calm and that if she could pay N7 million, they would destroy the photographs and all other documents and shelve the planned press conference.
At this point, they negotiated with her to pay N4 million, which she remitted after five days of their (the group) ultimatum. Asked if she paid the money to destroy evidence against her, she said, no, but that the policemen, including Chinua-Ogwu destroyed the photographs in her presence assuring her that they would not destroy her name in the media.
Also, she revealed that in her statement, she told the police that she did not know anything about ritual killing. She said â€œI will not kill, I have never killed, they did not tell me that they were going to make human ritual, I did not get my child through blood oath, I will never take another manâ€™s blood. The only thing I knew was that an Alfa can pray to solve spiritual problems.â€
She insisted that it was Chinua who took her photographs at the shrine in order to blackmail her and her family. â€œThey are fraudsters, they acted a well marshaled plan. They took my money from me forcefully and they were dishonest about the whole dealings.â€ She said
Under cross-examination from the counsel representing Chinua-Ogwu, Mr. A. G. Giwa-Amu, the victim said she did not write in her statement to the police that the accused person demanded for money, because she was threatened. She maintained that Chinua-Ogwu was present during the entire episode. She also told the court that she got to know about the publication in an online publication – pointblanknews.com – after her arrival from London, but refused to read the story. She said the whole scenario was planned by those involved in the whole episode to dupe her.
She also absolved the second accused person under cross-examination by his counsel, Mr. Olu Okunniyi. She admitted meeting Alhaji Rasheed Alayande once at the shrine and was never part of the deal at the police station.
Further hearing of the case is adjourned till September 16, 2009.