Afeez Hanafi

The police in Lagos are on the trail of members of a syndicate for allegedly defrauding a trader, Mr. Shedrack Eze, of N10m under false pretences that they would supply him LG Plasma television sets worth N15m.

PUNCH Metro learnt that the fraudsters would take unsuspecting traders, who wanted to buy goods, to their purported containers and warehouses only for them to disappear after collecting huge amounts from the victims.

It was gathered that one Emeka, who is said to be the gang leader, had in May 2016, sent one of his boys, Emmanuel Okolie, to Eze’s shop on Akowonjo Road, Egbeda, to get the trader’s telephone number.

After getting the number, Emeka reportedly called Eze on the telephone and subsequently established a cordial relationship with him.

Our correspondent learnt that on May 29, 2016, Emeka introduced Eze to one Stanley as a supplier of LG products.

They were said to have taken him to a warehouse, where he was shown a stock of Plasma TV sets. Eze then requested a supply of pieces worth N15m and reportedly paid N10m cash with a promise to pay the balance upon delivery.

It, however, dawned on him that he had been duped when Emeka and Stanley no longer picked their calls.

The case was reported at the state police command in Ikeja, leading to the arrest of a member of the gang, Okolie, in the Igando area.

“After I paid them N10m, they promised to deliver the goods to my showroom. When I didn’t see them, I called their lines, but they didn’t pick my calls. A woman then called me and said I had been duped. They later sent text messages to me threatening my family,” Eze told the police.

The 28-year-old suspect, who hails from Enugu State, allegedly confessed to being a member of the syndicate to the police, adding that he was given N100,000 as his share of the deal.

Okolie was on Thursday arraigned by the police in an Ikeja Magistrate’s Court on two counts of stealing and obtaining money under false pretences.

The police prosecutor, Sergeant Donjor Perezi, told the court that the alleged offences contravened sections 275 (1) (a), 312 and 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

The charges read in part, “That you, Emmanuel Okolie and others now at large, on May 29, 2016, at Egbeda, Lagos, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did obtain by false pretences the sum of N10m from one Shedrack Eze, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 312 (3) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.”

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty.

The presiding magistrate, Mrs. O.A. Olayinka, granted him bail in the sum of N5m with two sureties each in like sum.

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