The Ogun State Police Command yesterday, paraded four members of a fraud syndicate which allegedly duped a couple of N14.5 million.
The couple were told by the fraudsters to give them N20,000 to ward off the looming evil before them, but they ended up paying N14.5 million in three tranches before the fraudsters were arrested.
The suspects are Shehu Salam, 40; Risikat Oriyomi,47; Sola Babalola 38 and Wasiu Ajani, 35, who is physically challenged, were arrested on Monday in their den located at Omusorin village in Obafemi/Owode Local Government Area of the state.
The fifth suspect, who is said to be the ring leader, one Baba Awotola, fled when men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad stormed their operational base.
It was gathered that Ajani, a native of Ilorin, Kwara State, who claimed to be an Islamic cleric, got the couple into the net of the syndicate through the couple’s family friend.
The state Police Commissioner, Mr Ikemefuna Okoye, who conducted newsmen round the fraudster’s shrine in a dilapidated house which doubled as their operational base, yesterday, said the syndicate used Ajani to lure the couple, who are rice merchants in Lagos State.
Ikemefuna said Ajani used the name of a late popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Bulala, to hoodwink the victims.
The commissioner explained that Ajani on the fateful day dressed in Islamic cassock and hung about nine different praying rosaries on his neck, accosted the couple around Owode Onirin, Lagos, and gave them a revelation of a looming trouble before them which must be warded off through one of special prayers.
He said: “The suspect also told them to buy a measure of salt and give it as alms to three beggars. He later told the husband to buy a local egg and use it to pray, circling it around his head three times.”
According to him, Ajani later used the egg as a bait to lure the couple to their den, where they began to swindle them.
“He got the wife’s telephone number, and through it, he called the couple to bring the egg to their den for a special prayer,” Okoye said.
The couple, who pleaded anonymity because of their position in the society, said the syndicate under the pretence of warding off the evil before them collected N14.5 million in three instalments from them.
Involvement of ‘white witches’
According to the couple, the syndicate used the two women, Risiqat and Sola as “white witches” who claimed to offer prayers to ward off evils.
The ‘witches’ who claimed to have descended from ‘heaven’ reportedly said they needed money to fly back.
We got only N100,000 each —Suspect
Speaking with newsmen, Ajani said he got the information about the couple from the fleeing Baba Awotola.
He said: “It was Baba Awotola who introduced me to this shady business. He asked me whether I want to die a wretched man.
He was the one who gave the information that the couple had a problem and that they were a bit comfortable. He promised me a car and N300,000, but he only gave me and Shehu N100,000 each.”
Ikemefuna warned residents to be wary of fraudsters who parade themselves as clerics.