By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) Ibadan zone has arrested a suspected serial car thief as the commission alerted of new tricks deployed by car thieves to dispossess unsuspecting Nigerians of their vehicles.
According to the commission, the alert followed shocking discoveries made during investigations into the allegations of crime leveled against one Babatunde Oluwatope Oni (aka Olu Daniel, Oni Daniel Oluwatope).
EFCC stressed that the suspected serial car thief was recently arrested by its Ibadan zonal office for alleged conspiracy, stealing and issuance of dud cheque following a petition received from Mr. Kamoru Yekini on Novermber 21, 2018.
In the petition to the EFCC, the Petitioner alleged that on October 16, 2018, two men reportedly approached him at his shop at Iwo town, Osun State to indicate interest in purchasing a 2006 Toyota Matrix car he displayed for sale and that after
negotiation on the price, the two parties agreed on N1,580,000.00, and a post-dated First Bank cheque was issued supposedly to cover the cost with the cheque bearing the name Rabiu Bamidele Lateef as the account owner.
The petitioner stated that “in order to veil his criminal intention, Babatunde, acted as a driver to the other suspect (now at large), with whom he came for the negotiation”, and that the other man falsely introduced himself as the account owner and a Doctor at Bowen University, Iwo.”
According to EFCC “having agreed on the price, Bamidele left the scene to ‘deposit’ the money and later came with a copy of the deposit slip as an evidence of payment of the agreed sum” and that the Car dealer “though not comfortable with the payment arrangement still reluctantly released the vehicle and the custom duty papers, hoping that he would contact the ‘buyer’ through his phone number should any issue arise.
The Car dealer later got a call from his bank the following day informing him that the cheque has been returned unpaid due to insufficient funds and that all efforts he made to get the suspects proved abortive since all the information given turned out to be false.
EFCC on receiving the petition swung into action and recovred the car in Abuja where it was already sold to a lady for a sum of N1,800,000.00 and that
further investigations tracked the car back to Babatunde, who was later arrested in his hideout in the Federal Capital Territory.
While Babatunde was already in the EFCC’s custody, another complainant surfaced with a similar issue that on September 7, 2018 two men came to his filling station around Mokola, Ibadan, Oyo State to negotiate for a 2007 Toyota Avensis car he displayed and that after negotiation, they agreed for Two Million Naira N2,000,000.00 with Bamidele again immediately issued a cheque of Two Million Naira to ‘pay’ for the car.
“Just as he did in the other case, Babatunde, again acted as the driver to a ‘big man’ he came with. He also took the cheque to the seller’s bank to ‘deposit’ the sum, and came back with a deposit slip.While they were already testing the car, the car dealer told the suspects to hold on for him to confirm the status of the deposit from his account officer. But before he could do that, Bamidele and his partner zoomed off with the car since the car keys and papers had already been handed over to them. The cheque with which he made the ‘payment’ was later returned unpaid and all efforts made to contact the men was abortive.” the Commission added.
“Investigation by the EFCC revealed that Babatunde’s modus operandi was to issue cheques to car dealers and leave with the car. Such cheques were either stolen from unsuspecting Nigerians or are linked to unfunded accounts. For instance, the cheque bearing the name of Rabiu Bamidele Lateef issued in the first case was stolen as the owner, a pastor, had made statement to the commission to deny knowledge of issuance of his cheque for the said transaction.”
While advising the general public to be vigilant in order not to fall victim to the car thieves, EFCC maintained that “members of the public are by this report advice to be wary when transacting business with people they do not know.” and that the
“Commission is making frantic efforts to get other culprits arrested. They will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”