By Evelyn Usman
RememberÂ October 22, 2005, Bellview air crash which claimed a total of 117 passengers on board the ill fated Boeing 737-200 air craft? Remember also, that among those whose lives were sent to an unprepared grave by the crash which occurred shortly after take-off that fateful Saturday night, was the Chief Executive Officer of ASCON Oil, the late Mr George Enemuo.
While the respective bereaved families are still smarting from the irreparable loss of their loved ones, some unscrupulous individuals on the other hand, have hijacked the opportunity by impersonating some of the deceased, thereby using the means to enrich their pockets.
The startling discovery was made following the arrest ofÂ three suspected individuals said to have impersonated the late oil magnet, George Enemuo. The suspects were reported to have sold some units of the deceased Guinness shares worth over N 2 million. an actÂ unknown to the bereaved family.
The principal suspect, one Ugochukwu Ernest, a trader who deals on second hand clothes was apprehended last week, while at the verge of selling the deceased’s 10,000 units of Guinness shares, posing as the owner. The suspect who had earlier succeeded in selling 20,000 units of the shares, worth N2.7 million, told Crime Alert that he was lured by a friend who promised to give him money to rent an apartment in Lagos.
Forty-six-year-old Ugochukwu who hails from Aba, Abia state, was found with a driverâ€™s licence which bore the late oil magnetâ€™s name but had his photograph on it. The driverâ€™s licence as well as other necessaryÂ document which met the terms of reference of salesÂ ofÂ Hedges Securities, a stock brooking firm that manages the deceasedâ€™s shares, was used to pay the suspect the first payment ofÂ N2.736 million, in the first week of August.
However when the suspect went again with the intention of selling another ten thousand units, worth over N1million, his moves was suspected, consequent upon which anÂ indept verification was carried out to ascertain the authenticity of the perceived costumerâ€™s document, where to the shock of the staff, it was discovered that the rightful owner of the shares was dead.
Explaining how Ugochu-kwuâ€™s deed was uncovered, the accountant of Hedge Securities, Mr Emeoma Chris said,Â â€œ Sometime in the first week of August, a man came to the office identifying himself as George Enemuo, saying he wanted to sell his shares certificate.
We took it for verification and later paid him 2.736 Million for the sale of 20,000 units.
He later came back on August 17, demanding to sell an additional 10,000 units and we again took the certificate andÂ went for verification but decided to check the address he gave on his driverâ€™s licence, only to discover the address did not exist. We further went to the web site for his name only to discover to our amazement, that he was not the rightful owner of the shares. We found out that the rightful owner was involved in aÂ plane crash. That was how we contacted the police before inviting him over to come for his money and when he did, we handed him over to the policeâ€.
The Police, according to the Lagos State Police Public Relations officer, Mr Frank Mba, had begun investiga-tion into the matter. Ugochukwuâ€™s confessional statement led to the arrest of a manager with Hedge Securities. The task before the Police MbaÂ said,Â was to unravel the mystery surrounding how the suspect found the late oil magnetâ€™s shares certificate.
When asked how he came about the shares certificate, the principal suspect, Ugochukwu, a father of two, said, â€œ the certificate was given to me by one Tony whom I met at the national stadium, Surulere. I am a trader and I live in Aba. I only come to Lagos to sell second hand clothes.
But somewhere, I lost everything and had no money to trade. I then came to Lagos where I put up with a friend and started looking for what to do. That was when I met Tony. He told me he had a share certificate to sell. He said he bought it from somebody and needed to re-sell it but I said I do not have money because the challenge I wasÂ faced with was that of accommodation.. He then said all I needed to do was to bear the name of the person in the certificate since I was an Igbo man and I agreed because he promised he was going to give me money to rent an apartment.
To start with, he said I needed a driving licence and I did one which bore the name of George Enemuo while my picture was affixed on it. It was he also who directed me to Hedge company to sell the shares. After the first sale where we realised over N2 million , he gave me N150,000 saying he bought the shares for over N2 million, promising to give me a better offer when the rest would be sold.
Two weeks later, he asked me to go and sell some of the sharesÂ again but I wasÂ arrested . Now he is no where to be foundÂ because I believe he would have gotten wind of my arrest. I did not know who the real owner is. Tony only played on my ignorance and left me to bear the bruntâ€.
Aside the apprehension of one of the managers of Hedge Securities, one Issah Ekong, a deportee from Spain and Egypt, was also arrested.Â Isaac was said to have accompanied the principal suspect to Hedge securities on the day he was to collect the second payment.
ButÂ he claimed to be oblivious of Ugochukwuâ€™s sinister motive, even though he admitted to have been given sixty thousand naira from the first payment, an amount he denied knowing how his friend got.
Said Ekong, â€œ I used to know Ugochukwu when I was in Surulere. Then he was always coming from Aba to sell things. He also lived with me. When I had accommo-dation problem, he gave me sixty thousand naira and that was the last I saw of him until he came last Friday saying I should accompany him to Lagos Island to collect money. When we got there I stood at the stairs waiting for him when some people walked up to me to ask who I was waiting for and I mentioned his name. And to my shock, I was arrestedâ€.
On his part, the arrestedÂ manger, Mr Sakawhen Azebahon who was alleged of conniving with the principal suspect, following his claim that he personally knew the suspect and a further nod of approval for him (suspect) to collect the first payment.
But denying the claims, Azebahon said, â€œI have never met Ugochukwu in my life until he walked into our office two months ago. He is here you can ask him if he knows me. He only came to the office and tendered his document. I asked him the basic questions which he provided answers to before I asked that the documents shouldÂ be verified after which he was paid. I followed due procedure”, he maintained.