By Evelyn Usman and Ifeanyi Okolie
THE Special Fraud Unit in its continuous clampdown on fraudsters has nabbed some swindlers who parade themselves as Muslim clerics to defraud innocent members of the public of their hard earned money.
Crime Alert learnt that the unit swung into action after receiving a petition alleging that sometime in October 2011, one Lawal Suleiman collected goods (fireworks) valued at N13, 320, 750 with the promise to pay as soon as the goods were delivered. According to the petitioner, the goods were delivered successfully but the receiver refused to pay.
Then on June 18, 2012, the petitioner got a message from the receiver’s elder brother who informed him that his brother was swindled by some fraudsters at Ilorin, Kwara State. They named the fraudsters as Fatai Bamidele and Lateef Ahmed. Based on this, operatives of the unit were said to have spread their dragnet in and around the scene of crime and at the end of their investigation, they arrested two of the suspects.
The first suspect, Fatai Bamidele, 34, who hails from Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, claimed to be a Muslim cleric who normally assist Lawal Suleiman in his spiritual life. He stated that Lawal Suleiman came to him to seek spiritual assistance concerning a bad dream he had.
Along the line, he stated that Lawal also requested for charms to make money. This request for more money, he stated, prompted him to introduce Lawal to one Alhaji Lateef Ahmed in Ilorin who happens to be his master and superior, from where the sum of N10 million was reportedly taken from Lawal.
Investigations by the operatives showed that Lateef Ahmed, 45, is from Kwara State. He attended primary school education and later went to an Islamic school to become an Imam. He collaborated with Fatai that Lawal needed protection and more money to be rich and they subsequently informed Lawal that they have two types of money rituals, (i) The one brought by ghost, (ii) the one from daily contribution. Lawal reportedly opted for daily contribution and before the operatives rounded them up, the sum of N10m had been obtained from him.
During investigation, it was discovered that out of the N10m, Lateef gave Bamidele N2.5m while he took the remaining N7.5m. Bamidele used his money to buy one infinity Jeep valued at N1.4m while the balance was used to complete his house. Alhaji Lateef Ahmed bought Windstar Ford valued at N1.4m and used the remaining balance to renovate his house and take care of his family needs.
Operatives from the Unit conducted search warrants in Alhaji Lateef’s house and shrine located at Ilorin, Kwara State where assorted charms and juju were recovered. But in an interview with Lawal, he claimed he was hypnotized by the duo of Alhaji Lateef and Bamidele, adding that he was locked up for three months from where N10 million was collected from him.
Lawal said: “I have known Bamidele for years. He was the one that told me he had a bad dream concerning me and my children and, therefore, called for spiritual sacrifice. I gave him money to buy a ram because he said he would involve other Muslim clerics to pray along.
But he later came back and said he would engage the service of his superior, one Alhaji Lateef, who invited me to Kwara and gave me the heart of the ram which they used for sacrifice to eat. Immediately I ate it, I did not know where I was again.
Money for sacrifice
They started demanding money from me and also made me swear to an oath of secrecy, saying that the day I would reveal what happened between us to anyone that I would die. I was locked up for three months from where they kept demanding for more money for sacrifice. Then on April this year, I suddenly realized myself and escaped from where I was kept. Since then, they have been calling me on phone to bring more money.”
At this point, a mild drama unfolded itself when Bamidele interjected, calling Lawal a lie. “He is lying. It was him who came to me that he had a bad dream. He later came and said he wanted charms that would make those he owed to forget their money.
I told him I did not have such charm but would introduce him to Alhaji Lateef. Alhaji Lateef corroborated Bamidele’s claim saying the preparation of the concoction for quick money usually lasted one year. He said he started preparing it since last November with the hope of finishing it this October, only to be arrested at the verge of it.”
The Commissioner of Police, Special Fraud Unit, CP Tunde Ogunsakin said investigations into the case is on-going after which the suspects would be arraigned in court. He advised members of the public to desist from being desperate to get rich quick, as they might fall into the hands of fraudsters who are on the prowl.