By ABIRHIRE THOMAS
An 88-year-old prosecution witness, Tawakalitu Afolake Ilumoka, on Thursday, June 16, 2022, told Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja how one Olorunfemi Ayodeji duped her N36 million.
Ayodeji, also known as Otunba, is facing a three-count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, contrary to Sections 1 (1)(a) and 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2006, and stealing, contrary to Section 278 (1), (2) and 285 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
He was arraigned on February 24, 2022 by the Lagos Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
One of the counts reads: “Olorunfemi Ayodeji (aka Otunba) , Baba Ifakunle, Ifabunmi, Ifakunle, Moses Alade, Ganiyu Hakeem, Idokan Taye and others (all at large), sometime between the year 2015 and 2016, in Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, conspired among yourselves and obtained the total sum of N36,000,000 (Thirty-six Million Naira) from Alhaja Tawakalitu Afolake Ilumoka, after you gave her a calabash containing unknown concoction which you deceived her to drink and bath with, on the pretext that their god “YEYE OSUN” had blessed her with a box containing US Dollars and that the said N36,000,000 would be used for spiritual cleansing before the US Dollars could be spent, which pretence you knew was false.”
He pleaded “not guilty” to the charge preferred against him, thereby leading to his trial.
At the resumed sitting today, Ilumoka, 88, identified the defendant, Ayodeji, whom she said she knew through her daughter, Kuburat Ilumoka.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Ahmed Yerima, the witness told the court what transpired between her and the defendant in 2015, saying, “ We have been on this matter for seven years. When they called him on the phone for me, I told him I wanted to sell a piece of land. He then told me that he owned a church and that he would pray over it.
“He told me to prepare a bowl of “Semo”, with enough soup and several pieces of meat, which I should give as an offering to a mad man. After he had prayed over it, I gave it to a mad man.
“I later sold the piece of land situated at Orile-Agege, Lagos for N100m ( One Hundred Million Naira).
“I gave Otunba the sum of N100, 000.00(One Hundred Thousand Naira) out of the money and he thanked me for the gift.”
Ilumoka, mother of nine, also told the court that about a month after, her son, who was living in the United States of America, USA, at the time, called to inform her that he was sick and that he was confined to a wheel chair.
According to her, “I called Otunba and told him about my son’s health challenge.
“He said I had to bring him to Ondo State.
Though I complained that Ondo is some distance from Lagos, I agreed because he insisted my son could only be treated in Ondo.
“He, therefore, linked me up with some persons, namely Fakunle and Fabummi.
“While I was travelling to Ondo, I was talking with Fakunle and Fabunmi , whom Otunba had mentioned to me .I don’t remember their surnames now.
“They picked me up at a location and we rode in a posh car. While in the car with them, I didn’t suspect any foul play .
“They eventually took me to a thick bush, where there was a well fenced house. I was scared and I asked them why I was brought there.
“They then led me to a room in the house, filled with a pool of water. A woman came out of the water and they told me she was “Olokun( river goddess).
“I was asked to lower my head and was warned not to look at the goddess in the face.
“They said “Olokun” wanted to give me money, but I declined, insisting that all I wanted was for my son to recover from the illness.
“I couldn’t comprehend all that “Olokun”was saying, so they were the ones interpreting her words to me.
“They later took me to another room, and they all entered one after the other.
“They covered their faces with pieces of white clothes. When they mentioned my father’s and mother’s names, I was confounded.”
Ilumoka, formerly a trader at Oke-Arin Market, Lagos Island, Lagos further told the court that when she came out of the room, they gave her a calabash and ordered her to bring it home, so her child could recover fully from the ailment.
In her further testimony, she said: “Fakunle and Fabummi brought me home and asked that I return the calabash within seven days; otherwise, my house would be gutted by fire .
“Out of fear , I took the calabash to Ondo, and that was my second time there.
“Then, Fakunle, Fabummi and Otunba brought out a portmanteau and I could see money, in different currencies, dropping from the roof into the portmanteau.
“They asked me to pick the money, but I refused. I told them I didn’t come because of money. When I complained, they stripped me to the pants and took my pictures naked!
“I had running stomach immediately and was ordered to excrete in a bowl there in the room.
“At that moment, I called on God.
“They asked me to carry the money, but I told them I couldn’t, in view of the security situation in the country.
“So, they offered to accompany home. I was brought home in a Sport Utility Vehicle, SUV.
“They plucked a leave and pasted it on the portmanteau, assuring me that no law enforcement agent would stop them on the way.
“When we got back home, they led me to my room upstairs, kept the portmanteau under my bed and warned me not to mention it to anyone.
“Subsequently, they would call me as early as 7a.m. and instruct me pay money into a certain account. I paid the sums of N5m, N11m and N10m at different times into the account. I eventually paid them N36m.”
Ilumoka, who broke down in tears while talking about the passing of her son at 64 earlier in February, said she could not tell even her daughter- in-law who lives downstairs about it because she had been warned against doing so by the defendant and his accomplices.
“I reported the matter to the EFCC and he was eventually arrested.
“Following his arrest, the EFCC was able to recover the sum of N1.8m from his account, which was given to me.”
When the prosecution counsel sought to tender the copy of the obituary of the deceased son of the witness, the defence objected to its admissibility on the grounds that “it has no relevance to the case.”
The Judge, however, overruled his objection.
“Did you expect the man to have died in 2018 when the matter was reported to the EFCC?” the Judge held.
It was, therefore, admitted in evidence by the court against the defendant.
When asked, during cross-examination, if the defendant was with her while she travelled to Ondo, she said “No”.
Also, when she was asked if there was any time she spoke with the defendant and her daughter did not know about it, she pleaded that her daughter’s name be left out of the matter, adding, “ was she there when he ( Otunba) was collecting the money from me ?” Leave my daughter out of this matter. ”
The case was adjourned till September 30, 2022 for continuation of trial.