Recently, luck ran out on a five-man syndicate which specialises in duping innocent and hapless residents of Lagos State through shady deals, writes Femi Ogbonnikan
A fortnight ago, men of Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos State Police Command, apprehended the kingpin one, Segun Akuntola, who is alleged to be the leader of the syndicate that specialises in defrauding innocent citizens within the state.
The suspect, popularly known as ‘Okadigbo’, was apprehended by a decoy team of the squad at his shrine at Ijora over his involvement in fraudulent practices perpetrated by a four-man gang under his command.
THISDAY gathered that the fraud, being investigated, which was perpetrated in Ikorodu about a year ago, was supervised by an accomplice, Christian Odokor, 43. An informed police source hinted that the syndicate had duped a lady known as Joy (surname unknown), while in transit from Ikorodu towards Mile 12, where the victim had planned to buy some products for onward sales in her shop, before she fell prey to the activities of the fraudsters.
Preliminary investigation conducted by the decoy team of RRS, it was learnt, revealed that Okadigbo is the arrow head of several syndicates of fraudsters, operating in different parts of Lagos State and some parts of Ogun State.
The members of his syndicate, it was learnt, report to his shrine regularly where their nefarious activities were always planned and mapped out for execution.
Until his arrest over the weekend, four of his accomplices earlier arrested by the operatives of RRS have given him out as their ring leader, a development, which he has continued to deny knowledge of.
Prior to his arrest, THISDAY learnt that the operatives have for long been on his trail, but he has always remained evasive throughout 2016.
Okadigbo while confessing to being a fraudster who operated by pretending to be a herb seller in several parts of the metropolis denied his leadership of the syndicate, insisting every member was in-charge of his or her victims.
According to him, “it is true they used my shrine and office, as their hideout. They bring their victims there but everybody operated on his or her own. They all come from different places and converge there but everybody managed his or her own group.
“Although, the fake dollar they use is mine, but I don’t know anything about this job for which they have been arrested. Everybody plays his own individual roles. I am on my own.
“I operated by selling herbs but I market quick money rituals to people as well as herbs for people looking for children. I do spiritual bath for clients and that is how I defraud people and make my money,” he disclosed.
In his own confession, Christain Odokor, the leader of the Ikorodu fraudsters, in his confessional statement said, “we robbed her (Joy) about a year ago.
“We took all she had on her, including a sum of N300,000 and recharge cards of all networks worth N120,000. Okadigbo is our master whom most of us report to, at least thrice in a week. He takes his own percentage share at every breakthrough that we make.
“All of us, about nine groups that I know report to him. We operate in different parts of the metropolis.
“He is so powerful, dreaded and fiery that no policeman dares arrest him. He is spiritually powerful. He has juju. Now, I was shocked seeing him here with us in your custody,” Odokor said.
Another member of the team, who identified himself as Toyin Idebi, 25 years old, said greed made her join the gang two years ago. “I was a stylist and I was doing well in my business before I joined them. When I saw how they were spending money on ladies like me, then I moved closer to them to know their secret. In fact, I was attracted into their spending spree and I wanted to belong.
“Initially, they were reluctant to tell me their job as they just told me they were into export and import business. I pressed on further, until one of them asked me if I can keep a secret and I promised to keep a sealed lip. He opened up and I joined them.”
She continued, “my main job was to act as someone who was carrying foreign currencies and who didn’t know her destination. I could decide to go to any location I desire and when I notice the area was free and I could as well, get a victim and I would hang around and pretend as if I am a stranger in that locality, looking for an address which never exists. Though, those currencies were fake but I didn’t know how Okadigbo got them, but would make them available to us to work on,” said the 21-year-old female suspect.
While recounting her ordeal, the victim said, “It was on Wednesday afternoon, January 13, 2016 on my way to the market. The lady amongst them flagged me down by calling Sabo passengers from Ikorodu garage roundabout.
“When I saw the lady, sitting and calling for prospective passengers I never thought otherwise. Immediately, I hopped in and sat down beside her, I saw three other men inside the car.
“Suddenly as we were progressing, the lady begged me to help her with my phone to make phone calls, thus giving excuse that she had no call card on hers.
“As a lady, I handed over my phone to her and she made two separate calls with my phone. As we moved a bit far more, the driver detoured the journey to an unknown destination.
“I queried the driver where he was taking me to, but he refused to respond. Suddenly, they pulled over in the middle of the way, and the driver pointed a gun at me while the lady showed me a jack knife, to coerce me to cooperate.
“They ransacked my bag and removed the whole money on me, including the recharge cards, and they sped off,” she added.
While confirming the incident, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmus, a Superintendent of Police (SP), said that the Command would not rest on its oars until it rids the state of bad elements and reduce the criminal activities in the state to the barest minimum.
She added that the kingpin and his gang members would soon be charged to court upon completion of investigation into the matter.
She added that the suspects had been transferred to the operatives of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) of the Lagos State Police Command, Panti Street, Yaba, Lagos, for further investigation.