The police in Abuja have arrested 3 suspected fraudsters, who held a businessman hostage at Durumi, Area One, seized his property documents and forced him to sign a bank cheque for N8,050,000.
The gang also cashed three additional cheques totaling N450,000 from the bank account of the victim before their operation was foiled by the police, who responded to a distress call from residents.
The suspects, Okechukwu Emeka (39), Ugorji Maranatha (37) and Momoh Jimoh were arrested.
The businessman, identified as Mr. Efulu, had advertised online that a duplex at Prince and Princess Estate in Abuja, was for sale for N160million.
He subsequently got a phone call from Emeka, who expressed interest in the property, but the duo reportedly settled for N140m.
Emeka invited Efulu to his residence at Durumi for finalisation of the transaction, but unknown to the latter, Emeka was nursing a plan to dispossess him of his property as well as the money.
Mr Efulu told Punch that Emeka offered to pay in dollars, but he declined saying he preferred naira.
According to him, he sat in Emeka’s living room expecting the money, two men emerged from another room, held him down and handcuffed his hands and chained his legs.
“Emeka then forced me at gunpoint to sign three cheques for N450,000 which he asked his accomplices to go and cash. He also directed them to take my car to a hidden location; they seized my phones and deleted all my contacts, text messages, Whatsapp chats, pictures and other things; Emeka also forced me to write another cheque for N8.050 million,” the traumatised victim explained.
Efulu narrated that he was kept in a room, adding that he pulled down the window blind, stretched out one of his hands through the burglary-proof and shouted for help.
“When Emeka heard my shout, he rushed to the room, but I had locked the door. But he came into the room through the ceiling and I fought him with all my strength. When he observed that he could not overpower me, he bit me in the back and managed to escape,” he said, adding that the police showed up shortly after and rescued him.
Efulu observed that he would have been killed by the gang, but for the money in his account, which they wanted to withdraw. He noted that they needed him to be alive to confirm the withdrawal from the bank.
But Emeka, who claimed to be a crude oil dealer, stated that he paid $303,000 to Efulu for his property at N372 exchange rate, adding that they had problems because he refused to leave after collecting the money.
He explained that the N8.050 cheque was the discount he negotiated with Efulu, stressing that he asked his friends to handcuff the property owner “because I felt threatened by his continued stay in my house for over four hours.”
Asked how he got the pump action rifle and the handcuffs he used to subdue Efulu, Emeka said he bought it from a friend, a policeman.
He said, “I didn’t plan to hurt him, if I had any evil intention, I wouldn’t have invited him to my house. I paid him $303,000 for the property and he gave the money to his agent, one Mr. Joshua who went out to a bureau de change operator to check whether it’s genuine, but the mistake I made was using the handcuffs on him.”
Maranatha, who described himself as a security consultant, stated that Emeka directed them to put the handcuffs on Efulu because he was owing him, adding that he promised to release him once he settled the debt.
“He invited us to his house and told us that we would help him to put handcuffs on a man who was owing him, so when we got to his house, he asked us to wait in the children’s room; he later asked us to hold down the man and we handcuffed his hands and chained his legs,” he admitted.
The suspect stated that Emeka directed them to cash four cheques, but they could only cash three for N450,000.
The third suspect, Jimoh, corroborated Maranatha, adding that they were arrested by the police as they were coming back from the bank with the money.
The police have said they would be charged to court soon.