….NowÂ in EFCC Net
By Ifeanyi Okolie
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is currently interrogating a notorious fraudster, Olabamiji Michael, who was alleged of defrauding over a 100 persons of about N30m in the guise ofÂ providing befitting accommodation for them in Lagos.
The con- man, whose targets are mostly accommodation seekers, has been parading himself as a housing agent in Lagos.Â He had succeeded in tricking his victims into parting with large sums ofÂ money for procuring accommodation in an uncompleted one -storey building, located at No. 2, Amuda Street, in Kirikiri Town.
It was gathered that, the said building which was formerly a bungalow was later developed into a storey building.Â Â It has two sets of two bed room flats in it which was rented for N700,000 each, a four set of two rooms, self -contained went for N400,000 each andÂ that of one room apartment were rented for N200,000 each.
The victims, including those that have already been served with quit notices by their respective landlords, unguardedly fell into the trap of the fraudster and ended up paying for flats still under construction.Â Â Â Unfortunately, most of them were greatly disappointed when, on completion of the buildings, they found out that they could not have access to their flats.Â Worse still, they were shocked to see many others claiming to have paid for the same flats to the same person.Â The scenario painted by the struggle for rightful possession by the victims is better imagined than witnessed.
On the penultimate day, the man who received their money suddenly showed up.Â He reportedly came to collect the balance of the remaining money from his unsuspecting victims when he suddenly saw the large number of his victims.
While the fraudster quickly took to his heels, his victims kept themselves busy by struggling for rightful ownership of the flats.Â Â The struggle soon degenerated into chaos. It heightened as those who have relatives around called for help while those who do not,Â were left with no option than to hurriedly contract thugs to help them do their biding.
It took the timely intervention of policemen from the Kirikiri Division, who raced to the scene, toÂ prevent what would have turned into bloodshed.Â The Divisional Police Officer advised that they should get themselves together and lodge a formal report at the police station.
Some of the victims who spoke to Crime Alert said they were not aware that the contentious building was rented out to many people and they regretted ever getting themselves into such ugly situation.
Sunday Joseph,Â a trader who lost over N400,000 to the fraudster narrated how he was lured into parting with his money. According to him, he contacted Michael after he read through an advert that was published along the road. â€œI called the numbers on the advert and he directed me to Amuda Street Kirikiri Town.Â Â There, I saw the building.Â Â It was still under construction.
He showed me round and I opted to take one of the flats.Â I asked for the price which he said was N 700,000 excluding agent and agreement fee, which he said I would pay N 50,000 each.Â I argued that it wasnâ€™t an agent that showed the house to me, but he insisted that I must pay because the building belongs to his family and the only waay he could make his own money was by doing the agentâ€™s job.Â Â After a long negotiation, we agreed and I paid N 400,000 and promised to balance him when I move into the house.
I kept on checking on him to see how things were going.Â Â All those times, I did not see other people call on my apartment, but on the day he asked me to bring his balance and take the keys to my apartment, I discovered that over 20 persons had paid for my apartment and at that instance, they were all struggling to get in.Â Â Doors were pulled out and replaced with another, padlocks were shattered and replaced with another, it was a complete chaos.Â Â At that time, I became confused and decided to call the attention of the man that gave me the flat but his lines were all switched off.
The crowd was much and people were running helter-skelter.Â Â Some were even trying to force their properties into the apartment. It eventually turned out to be a survival of the fittest. But some even went ahead in contacting their relatives to help them occupy an apartment; some others took the opportunity to occupying apartments hey did not pay for.
All of a sudden,Â the police arrived the scene and took control of the chaotic situation.Â Â They took us all to the police station and some of us made statements and surrendered the receipt of payment to the police.Â Â They next day, they tried to trace the man that received money from all of us called Ola through the address on the receipt.
But the address was not even in existence. We all got confused and the police were also handicapped because nobody knew where to trace himÂ Â Â But I think the police actually alerted the command headquarters and also the Zone 2 headquarters in Onikan.Â Â Surprisingly, we got a call from the police that he has been arrested in Victoria Island in Lagos, after he was sighted by a victim whom he had duped of N5 million in a previous deal.
We quickly alerted the EFCC, because we learnt that some persons have been trying to getÂ Ola out of Zone 2. The operatives at the EFCC responded immediately and Ola was transferredâ€.
Spokesman of EFCC, Femi Babafemi who confirmed the story, said the Commission is doing all within itâ€™s powers to ensure that Olabajimi, as he is fondly called,Â did not escape justice.