I became a fraudster because I was once a victim –Suspect One of the suspects who were arrested by the Anti-Kidnapping Squad of the Oyo State Police Command in connection with alleged defrauding of innocent persons, popularly referred to as 419, and the discovery of shrines and offices used by the fraud syndicate, has revealed that he decided to be part of the criminal activity because he had also once been a victim. The suspect, Alhaji Akeem Azeez Olayode, stated this on Friday when he spoke with Crime Reports at Oloya Community in Isokan Local Government area of Osun State. Other suspects are the syndicate’s fake herbalist, Ayankunle Ayanlowo (43); the syndicate’s spy, Oriyomi Adebayo (41); Samsideen Abiola (48), who was said to be a photographer who lured rich victims to the syndicate’s trap; and Sherifat Gbadamosi (42), the syndicate’s ‘white witch’. Two other suspects, Ola and Chief Asegbeloyin Ojo Oluropo a.k.a. Ajiwe, are currently on the run.
The Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Muhammad Musa Katsina, who led police officers and men, and journalists to the shrines, said that the activities of the syndicate which specialized in defrauding unsuspecting citizens of huge sums of money were uncovered through intensive and painstaking intelligence. Crime Reports learnt that the suspects exploited their victims’ quest for herbal and spiritual solutions to their health and emotional problems to extort large sums of money from them. Saying that he had declared unrelenting war against the activities of predatory and anti-social elements, Katsina told Crime Reports that many victims had visited the shrines and left with bruises. “Whenever anyone is brought here, they do everything to diminish any sense in their victims.
As a result, they would subdue them to the point of parting with anything that is valuable,” he added. “They have dispossessed people of various amount of money, among them an octogenarian in Ibadan from whom the syndicate collected N30million. Another victim from the US who came to the shrine was also defrauded of N20million after he fell into their trap,” he said further. He described the female suspect who performed spiritual dance whenever they had a victim as a mere entertainer, assuring the people that they had nothing to fear about her. Crime Reports was also at the residence of Ajiwe at Idi Oya, Kajola Road, along Odo Ona Elewe area of Ibadan. The place, which also served as the runaway suspect’s office, had rooms with fetish objects and an escape route at the back of the house. Olayode who hails from Ogbomoso disclosed: “I was a fuji musician with Santana as stage name. I was defrauded by a 419 syndicate when I wanted to do charms for fame. After a while, they convinced me to join them, assuring me that I would recoup my money. I was usually called by syndicates who got clients. My role was to grind herbs together and prepare concoctions. After curing the disease, he would charge the customer and I would get my share.
“I can’t recall the number of people who had fallen victim to us, but I remember that one paid N30million to cure a festering sore. It was paid in bits. Another one paid N15million. I have three vehicles – Honda Crosstour worth N3.5m, Toyota Venza worth N4.8m and Mercedes 4matic worth N6million. “I also have poultry business being run by my wife and a house I live in.” Olayode disclosed that one of the shrines at Oloya Community belonged to one Ola but said he was not familiar with Ajiwe who owned the other shrine.” Another suspect, Ayanlowo told Crime Reports: “I am a fake herbalist, though I learnt the job of a herbalist from my grandfather. My role was to prepare herbs and concoctions whenever we got clients that had problems. “Olayode usually connected me with clients who had health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke etc. I would do the concoctions which I would give Olayode. He would charge the clients and give me my own share.
At times, I would get N500,000 or N600,000. “I had a shrine at Akufo road but it had been closed down when the community frowned at visitors coming to the place.” Sherifatu Gbadamosi demonstrated how she used to dance as a ‘white witch’ to convince victims of the ‘supernatural’ powers of her syndicate members. She sang: “Egungun oba, egungun ti de, ori wole. Oruru wo wo wo, ori wole (a song sung by egunugun worshippers).” The female suspect revealed that the syndicate members used to come to my mother-in-law to sew masquerade regalia, initially claiming that she was arrested because her in-law was not available. But when confronted by Olayode who said she had worked with his syndicate, Gbadamosi said: “I once worked with them about two years ago but I stopped it. “ The Secretary of the Association of Oloya Community Youths, Ademola Oyesina, also told Crime Reports the shrines were noticed about a year ago, though none of them knew what they were doing there.
“We noticed that exotic cars were coming to the shrines between 9p.m. and 11p.m., and we reported at the police station in our local government. The youths met and erected a gate at the main entrance of the community so that their vehicles would not be able to come into the community but we were frustrated by the community’s elders who stopped us from locking the gate. We even went to the community head to report. Adebayo, who was Ajiwe’s driver, and lives in his house said he knew his boss as a traditional orthopaedic doctor. I only discovered that he was into fraudulent activities in 2014. Samsideen Abiola also said he moved close to Olayode “because he once helped me. I knew him at a club and he used to give me good money for few photographs I took for him. I noticed he had posh cars so I sought help from him to buy camera and he bought two for me. I didn’t know he was into any illicit business.”
Story by Oluwatoyin Malik Voice Over by Doyin Adeoye Video Editing by S-Davies Wande