Lagos State police are on the trail of a herbalist, identified only as Olowo Saudi, for allegedly defrauding a barber, Babatunde Sulaimon, to the tune of N1.6m. 41-year-old Sulaiman, who lives in the Ebute-Meta area of Lagos, had reportedly approached the herbalist through his apprentice, Gbenga Balogun, and one Kehinde Afolabi, for rituals that would bring favour his way. The barber had also consulted Olowo Saudi, who lived in Oke Imesi, Ekiti State, to link him with senators and enable him to get contracts that would make him rich. The herbalist was said to have given him a concoction to drink and warned him that he risked dying if he disclosed to a third party what transpired between both of them afterwards. The herbalist thenceforth started demanding money from the victim to facilitate the senatorial connection and the blessing he sought.
On Tuesday, February 17, he was said to have given Olowo Saudi a sum of N270,000. The herbalist the following day, called him on the telephone to send N1.4m to his bank account to complete a sacrifice with a promise that he would begin to see positive results by Sunday, February 21. Sulaiman said he strove to raise the sum and deposited it in the herbalist’s bank account, adding that it dawned on him that he had been defrauded when he called Olowo Saudi on Monday to inform him that he had not seen any result, but his two lines indicated that they had been switched off. The alleged fraud was reported at the Lion Building Police Division, leading to Balogun and Afolabi’s arrest.
Sulaiman said, “I was linked with the herbalist by my apprentice, Gbenga (Balogun). He took me to the man in Ekiti on January 1. When we got there, the man gave me something to drink in his house and gave me another one to take home. He promised that I would be linked with senators and other top government officials that would assist me to reach the top. “He threatened me that I would vomit blood and run mad if I tell anybody. I begged him to assist me without much problem because I have not paid my son’s school fees and my shop rent then. I gave him N270,000 on February 17. The following day, he said I should raise N1.4m more which I transferred into his account. He promised that everything would be sorted out that weekend. On Monday, I kept calling, but his lines were not reachable.”
Balogun, 32, who denied involvement in the fraud, said his boss did not carry him along after the January meeting with the herbalist. He added that he did not know Olowo Saudi’s whereabouts. “Sulaiman approached me that he did not understand his life and I told him to look for a way out. I introduced him to Baba (Olowo Saudi) who I know through a female friend, Kehinde (Afolabi). Since Baba gave him (Sulaiman) some concoction on the day we went there, he had been relating with Baba without my knowledge. He had already sent the money to Baba before he informed me,” he said.
However, Afolabi said the three of them had wanted the herbalist to invoke a spirit that would make them rich not knowing “he is a fraudster”. She said, “I introduced Gbenga (Balogun) to Olowo Saudi and he promised to make us rich. But he said for us to be rich, we must be three or more. That was why Gbenga brought in Sulaiman. The three of us met with the herbalist and he also promised to make him rich. I also paid the man about N500,000. When Gbenga and I went to his house, we were told that he had parked out.”
The two suspects were arraigned by a police prosecutor, Inspector I. Okeke, before a Tinubu Magistrate’s Court on three counts bordering on stealing and obtaining money under false pretences.
The charges read in part, “That you, Gbenga Balogun, Kehinde Afolabi and one other at large, between January and February 2016, on Apapa Road, Ebute-Meta, Lagos, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did obtain the sum of N1,670,000 with a promise to introduce one Babatunde Sulaiman to a senator in Ado-Ekiti which you failed to do, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 321 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty before the presiding magistrate, Mr. A. Adefulire, and were admitted to bail in the sum of N400,000, with one surety each in like sum.
Adefulire adjourned the case till May 25, 2016, Punch Metro reports.