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BIG STORY

How Shell Staff Connived With Police To Extort N3m From Me —– Travel Agent

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September 30, 2019, seemed like a normal business day for Dayo Ayoade, Managing Director of Travel Deals Limited, Lagos, until he discovered that his bank had placed a lien on his account.

On approaching the bank, he was arrested and detained at the Area F Police Station, Lagos State without any charge for a period of five days, placed in the cell amongst hardened criminals and handcuffed to the hospital bed like a common criminal and later transferred to Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Inquiries from his family about his whereabouts revealed that a certain Joseph Ezekwugo, Technology Manager at Shell Petroleum, Port Harcourt, ordered his arrest, alleging that he was duped by Ayoade and should be remanded in police custody until he pays the sum of N3.4 million.

Ayoade said: “The whole drama started on July 22, 2019, when one Ayanniyi Babatunde Daniel of Range Travels came to my office to make inquiries about my discount tables for sub-agents and expressed his willingness to do business with me. He told me to do travel reservations for Mr. Joseph Ezekwugo from Lagos to Winnipeg on Lufthansa, Ottawa to Winnipeg for his son on West Jet, Lagos to London return for Jenmi Nikky Omolola on British Airways and Oke Oluwale Abayomi on Ethiopian Airline. The reservations were made and immediately forwarded to Mr. Ayanniyi Babatunde via WhatsApp. I gave him my account number before he left the office to enable him to make payment once his client gives his approval.

“Later that evening, an unregistered number called me and introduced himself as Joseph Ezekwugo from Port Harcourt and wanted to know if he’s speaking with the MD of Travel Deals Limited, I answered in affirmation, and he told me his agent (Ayaniyi Babatunde) gave him my number and account. I called Ayaniyi Babatunde and notified him of the call from Mr. Ezekwugo Joseph and he confirmed to me that he gave him my details. Shortly after that, I got an alert of Seven Hundred Thousand Naira (700,000.00) from Mr. Ezekwugo Joseph. I immediately called the two of them to notify them of the payment and Mr. Ayanniyi told me that more payment will still be made as he (Mr. Ezekwugo) will be traveling with members of his family.

“The following day, on July 23rd, 2019 I received another payment of Five Hundred and Fifty-Seven Thousand Two Hundred Naira (N557,200.00). I again notified Mr. Ezekwugo via text message and called Mr. Ayanniyi to let me know the tickets to be issued as I will not be responsible for any increase in fares and he told me he will liaise with his client get back to me and even confirmed that more payment will still be made.

“About a week after, Mr. Ayanniyi came to my office and asked me to issue the ticket as follows:
“(1) British Airways ticket to London for Jenmi Nikky Omolola at a cost of Seven Hundred and Fifty-Five Thousand, Five Hundred and Ninety-Eight Naira (N755,598.00).

“(2) On August 19th, 2019, he was in my office to issue another Ethiopian Airline ticket for Vitalla Golla at a cost Three Hundred and Fifty-Three Thousand Six Hundred and Two Naira (N353,602.00).

“Same day, he asked me to issue another ticket for a local flight to Mr. Ezekwugo from Port Harcourt to Lagos but I told him we don’t do local tickets because of the stress involved. He then requested that I send him the balance of One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira (120,000.00) after deducting the Twenty Thousand Naira (20,000.00) I borrowed him to enable him source for Mr. Ezekwugo’s local flight ticket.

“On September 26th, 2019 an unregistered number called me and introduced himself as Inspector Dominic from Port Harcourt. He asked if I know Mr. Joseph Ezekwugo and why I issued him a fake ticket. I told Inspector Dominic that though I don’t know Mr. Joseph Ezekwugo in person but we spoke with twice on phone and I didn’t issue any ticket to him. I further told the Inspector that the two tickets I issued from the payment Mr. Ezekwugo gave me were in favor of Jenmi Nikky Omolola and Vitalla Golla which were on instruction Mr. Ayanniyi Babatunde, his agent and that the balance of his money has since been transferred Mr. Ayanniyi Babatunde. Inspector Dominic later made a snapshot of the purported fake tickets to me and I told him that what he sent to me did not originate from me as they did not even resemble my company’s ticket format.

“Shortly after, I called Mr. Joseph Ezekwugo to intimate him of what Inspector Dominic told me but was surprised when he affirmed it. I questioned why he didn’t notify me when he realized the ticket given to him by his agent were fake, he gave no answer to that and further said my company has been used to defraud him by his agent.

“All attempts to get in touch with Mr. Ayanniyi Babatunde who was the one that came to my office to do all the negotiations proved abortive as he initially refused to pick calls and when he eventually picked, he was so evasive as he kept giving excuses of not been around.

“On September 30th, 2019, I realized my account was frozen and I had to go to the bank to enquire why there is a restriction on my account, to my surprise, the bank’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) showed me some documents from the Inspector General’s office effecting my arrest on sight. I followed him to the Police Station hoping that the issue will soon be resolved since I knew I had not committed any fraud.

“We met the DPO who took us to the Area Commander and after so much going back and forth, I was detained and locked up in the cell. Due to my ill health, I was moved from the cell to stay behind the counter overnight. My health got worse the following day and was taken to the hospital (Cottage) on the order of the DPO and was handcuffed to the bed. I was treated for my Asthma ailment and in the cause of the treatment, it was discovered I had developed high blood pressure.

“I was moved to the police station again on Thursday morning where I spent the day and night behind the counter before Inspector Dominic finalized his paperwork and we proceeded on the trip to Port Harcourt. We were to move by road but had to buy flight tickets for the two police officers that came from Port Harcourt namely Inspector Igwe Dominic and Sargent Oludare Olamide.

“We got to Port Harcourt same Friday, I wrote my statement with the police and later met one Mr. Chukwukaelo Ogadinma who said he is Mr. Joseph’s Personal Assistant. Mr. Ogadinma insisted that I must pay Three Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N3,500,000.00) before I can be granted bail. It was later discovered that Mr. Chukwukaelo Ogadinma is a staff of Shell and was employed by Mr. Joseph Ezekwugo to further confuse and make-believe the allegation against me. To further put fear and intimidation in me as well as extort money, Mr. Ogadinma boasted of how much money he had paid the police to effect my arrest and that the said amount must be paid before my release. All pleas to release me fell on deaf ears.

“Not even my proposal to be responsible for the only Two Million Two Hundred Thousand Naira (2,200,000.00) which was the cost of the fresh ticket Mr. Joseph claimed he bought since he already had the plan to travel and to spend One Million Two hundred and Fifty-Seven Thousand Two Hundred (N1,257,200.00) yielded any positive result as his “PA” insisted I have to pay Three Million Naira N(3,000,000.00) final payment or else I should remain in police custody. Already I was locked up in the cell with criminals and couldn’t imagine spending another night there.

“When all pleas fell on his deaf ears, a friend of mine, Jide Akinuli transferred Three Million Naira (3,000,000.00) to Mr. Chukwukaele Ogadinma and upon receipt of the payment, which he confirmed via online banking, he asked the Police to release me.

“After all the necessary paperwork, I was released on bail later that Friday night.”

BIG STORY

Court Orders Seizure Of 46 Houses, Land Linked With Ex-NSITF Boss Olejeme

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted an order of interim forfeiture in relation to 46 property including houses and parcels of land suspected to be owned by former Chairperson of the Board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Mrs. Ngozi Juliet Olejeme.

Justice Taiwo granted the order in a ruling on a motion ex-parte, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/538/2020, argued on Tuesday by Ekele Iheanacho, a lawyer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Taiwo ordered the EFCC to publish the order in a national daily to enable anyone who is interested in the affected property to show cause within 14 days why the assets should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The judge fixed July 27 this ‎year as the return date.

The 46 property, listed in documents filed in court, is said to be located in Abuja, Bayelsa and Delta states.
The EFCC claimed, in a supporting affidavit, that Olejeme acquired the said property with public funds she allegedly diverted while serving in the NSITF between 2009and 2015.

One of the properties is identified as N0: 2 Kainji Crescent, Off Lake Chad Crescent, Maitama, Abuja (also known as Plot 738 Cadastral Zone AO5, Maitama, Abuja, the which the EFCC claimed she acquired in 2012 at N1.3billion.

The EFCC alleged that Olejeme acquired the property using funds received as kickbacks from contractors, through third parties.

It stated that “During Mrs. Olejeme’s tenure as aforestated, she collected a cumulative sum of USD $48, 485,127.00 from Chuka Eze (her Account Officer in First Bank Plc), Henry Sambo Ekhasomi (the Director of Finance of NSITF), Aliyu Zubairu (Director of Corporate Affairs -NSITF), Adebayo Aderibigbe and Abubakar Umar.

“The said sum of USD $48, 485,127.00 represents the dollar equivalent of kickbacks paid to BDC (bureau de change) by contractors/consultants of NSITF on Mrs. Olejeme’s instructions as well as payments to the BDC operators directly from NSITF account.

“The personal account of Mrs. Olejeme in First Bank Plc also received a total in-flow of N22, 200,000.00 from Hybrid Investment Advisors Ltd, a contractor to NSITF.

“Excellent Solicitors & Consultants is one of the firms engaged by the NSITF as a consultant.

“In the course of time, the firm received over N1,000, 000, 000.00 from the NSITF under the guise of rendering consultancy services, its proprietor Max Ozoaka withdrew the monies and either gave same in cash to Mrs. Olejeme or did transfer to her proxies under her instructions.

“Within the same period, the sum of N5, 984,059,110 was paid by NSITF under the guise of consultancy services to Fountain Legal Services and Fountain Media Consults being the firms owned by Adebayo Adebowale Aderibigbe (a staff of NSITF).
“As the said payments were made by the NSITF to his firms’ accounts, Mr. Adebayo Adebowale Aderibigbe gave Mrs. Olejeme a total cash sum of N505,000,000.00 and US$11,488,550.00 in dollars.

“Mrs. Olejeme procured the services of bureau de change operators through Mr. Chuka, who provided the bank accounts of the BDC operators to her.

“Several consultants/contractors to NSITF transferred money to the bank accounts of these BDC operators in naira for Mrs. Olejeme while the dollar equivalent of each naira lodgment would be collected by Mr. Chuka and handed over to Mrs. Olejeme in her house or through bank transfers.

“Mr; Chuka was interviewed on various dates including 23rd August 2016, 19th December 2016, 4th April 2017, 2nd May 2017, 17th July 2017 19th December 2017, 27th December 2017 and 17th May 2018 and he consistently narrated the details of the numerous United States dollars he couriered to Mrs. Olejeme as well as other financial dealings he carried out for her.

“The BDC Operators which provided the currency exchange services for Mrs. Olejeme through Mr. Chuka include Majia BDC, Alim BDC, and Ashanbrak.BDC.

“In addition to giving the currencies to Mr. Chuka for Mrs. Olejeme, there were occasions where the BDC Operators transferred some of the funds directly to Mrs. Olejeme’s controlled bank accounts.

“For instance, Mrs. Olejeme received the sum of N350,000,000.00 from the BDCs into her private company Able Jes Nigeria Ltd’s account in GTBank Plc in two days i.e (29th and 30th April 2013).

“In fact on 29th April 2013, only Adamu Musa of Majia BDC made cash deposits into the same account totaling N236,350, 000.00. She (Mrs. Olejeme) is the sole signatory to the said account.

“Mrs. Olejeme used the huge funds referred to in the foregoing paragraphs, which funds did not form part of her lawful income, to acquire property referred to.

“She used third parties in making payments for all the property so as to conceal and or avoid the properties/funds from being easily traced directly to her.

“Mrs. Olejeme hired the services of one Mr. Ifeanyi Njokanma, who is a property manager to purchase and acquire, on her behalf, most of the property,” the EFCC said.

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Lagos, Abuja Airports To Resume Operations July 8

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The Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, are to resume domestic operations on Wednesday, July 8.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced this on his twitter handle on Wednesday night.

He said the date for commencement of international flights would be announced in due course.

The minister said Lagos and Abuja airports would resume operations on July 8, while Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri, and Maiduguri airports are to resume operations on July 11 and other airports would start operations on July 15.

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: FG Increases Petrol Pump Price To N143.8/litre

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The Federal Government through the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has announced a new retail price band for oil marketers across the country.

In a circular dated July 1st, the downstream regulator said oil marketers are now expected to sell petrol within the price range of N140.80 and N143.80.

The circular reads in part;

“Please recall the provision for the establishment of a monthly price band within which Petroleum Marketers are expected to sell PMS at the retail stations, based on the existing price regime.”

“After a review of the prevailing market fundamentals in the month of June and considering Marketers’ realistic operating costs, as much as practicable, we wish to advise a new PMS pump price of N140.80 to 143.80/Litre for the month of July 2020.”

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