Autogig International Resources Ltd, a Lagos-based auto dealer, has petitioned the Lagos State Police Commissioner against three police officers for allegedly suppressing the investigation of certain criminal suspects being accused of fraud.
The Petitioner is accusing the officers of unjustifiably stalling a legitimate criminal investigation initiated at its instance against the suspected persons.
According to the auto dealer, the alleged suppressive conduct of the officers, who are investigating its case of fraud against the trio of Plus Grace Ltd, Abayomi Cargo Ltd, and Hammed Dubai Logistics, has in turn hindered the judicial process from kick-starting against the suspected persons.
It has also stalled the release of the Petitioner’s Toyota Prado SUV, 2019 model, which has been accumulating demurrage at the Tincan Island Port in Lagos since March, last year, it averred.
Dated March 4, the 22-paragraph appeal detailed how the officers, namely ACP Lawrence Oketunji, CSP Toyin Suleiman and CSP Razak Oseni allegedly stalled the said criminal investigative process.
The officers were at the time of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba, Lagos.
The Commissioner’s acknowledged copy of the document was made available to our correspondent.
In the Petition prepared by Barrister Okey-Joe Onuakalusi, the auto-dealer’s lawyer, the Petitioner averred that it had since July 8, 2019 brought an official complaint of forgery, cheating, uttering, conspiracy and obtaining by false pretenses the sum of N49million against Olamilekan Wasiu Olasheu, Abayomi Wasiu Oladoye and Ola Ahmed Habeed. But till date, hardly has investigation been concluded into the case, let alone judicial trial initiated.
The auto dealer’s main appeal in the Petition are, among others, that: the activities of the said officers be investigated; that the matter be transferred from SCID Panti to the State Command and same should be given to a new team of investigators to complete; and that the new team should be under the CP’s watch.
The Petitioner also appealed that two of the suspected persons, namely Mrs Taibat Akande and Wasiu Abayomi Oladoye, who have yet to give their statements, be made to do so. And that CSP Suleiman be made to produce Messrs Akanbi, Oladoye and Olamilekan, who are allegedly being shielded by him.
The Petitioner’s case is that it had paid huge sums of money totaling N49 million to Plus Grace Ltd, Abayomi Cargo Ltd, and Hammed Dubai Logistics for the clearing of five units of 2019 Toyota Prado SUVs at the Tincan Island Port.
The said sum was disbursed to the accounts of Messrs Akanbi, Ahmed, Olamilekan, and Oladoye, who allegedly misappropriated it against the intended purpose.
Thus, on July 8, 2019, the auto dealer lodged a formal complaint against the suspected persons at SCID in Panti, accusing them of inter alia obtaining from it by false pretenses the said sum.
“The police officers commenced their investigation and wrote to the various banks from where the payments were initiated by our client. The banks responded and the lodgments were traced to the bank accounts of Ola Ahmed, Wasiu Olamilekan, Abayomi Wasiu Oladoye, and Mrs Taibat AAkanb,” the Petitioner stated.
They added, “Through the instrumentality of your officers who were assigned to carry out the investigation, our client paid for the tracking of Ola Ahmed who was eventually arrested in Osun state and made useful confessional statement with regards to the way and manner he misappropriated the money paid to him for the clearing of our client’s vehicles.
“The statement of account of Mrs Taibat Akanbi did show inflow of huge sums of millions of naira meant for the clearing of our client’s vehicles which were never utilized for that particular purpose.
“Upon our client arming your officers with information as to the residence of the said Mrs Akanbi, your officers in collaboration with the officers in the Kwara State Nigeria Police Command and other sister security agencies traced the house of Mrs Akanbi to Ilorin in Kwara State over the course of three days, yet because of the connivance of your officers being petitioned against herein, the suspect escaped arrest.
“After the failure of the attempt to arrest Mrs Akanbi, our client was invited to the Lagos state Police Command at the invitation of Lagos state Police Provost Mr Ayev, and on getting to the Office of the Provost, we, in company of our client, saw the elusive Mrs Akanbi, her lawyer and also the elusive Wasiu Oladoye, Wasiu Olamilekan and Ola Ahmed.
“The Provost Ayev interviewed the parties and further informed us that there is petition against the investigative team, and it is an internal review of the command on the role and activities of police officers.
“Mr Ayev promised that the review will not scuttle the investigation and the report will be released soon.
“After one month of our visit to the Provost, obtaining his report was becoming a nightmare.
“Our further investigation revealed that the Provost’s report was released to your command and same was suppressed and has never been communicated officially to us to further the conclusion of this investigation, as it contains the statement under caution of Mrs Akanbi and the pronouncement of the investigative team as per whether or not a prima facie case have been established against Akanbi, Olamilekan, Ahmed And Plus Grace Limited.”
“We trust that you will use your good offices to ensure that justice is not only done but clearly seen to have been done without much ado,” the auto dealer appealed to the CP in light of the allegations.
Responding however to the Petitioner’s allegation, ACP Oketunji, one of the three officers accused of suppression, said he’s aware of the case, but that “to say that I’m suppressing anything sounds strange to me.”
He explained that “The case has to do with the importation of vehicles from Dubai.
“It was being investigated by CSP Lekan Ogundare. Along the line, one of the suspected persons wrote a petition against him, accusing him of bias; that Lekan and the Petitioner were friends.
“Based on the petition, the CP then ordered the Police Provost to take over the case from us. He investigated the allegation against Lekan and issued him a query.
“Thereafter the Provost wrote a report/Memo back to the CP that they should withdraw the case from Lekan for another team to handle.
“The CP then instructed us to withdraw the case from Lekan.
When the CP’s instruction got to the DCP and me as the second in command I then called on the Petitioner and his lawyer and told them that based on the Provost’s report we have been asked to withdraw the case from Lekan and give it to another person. So we gave it to Rasak Oseni for reinvestigation of the case.
“But the lawyer to the Petitioner objected. So I said, ‘if you aren’t ready for another person to reinvestigate the case, then your vehicle will remain in Tin can accumulating demurrage’.
“We told him, also, that if they feel we aren’t doing the proper thing, or that they’re not ready to have their case reinvestigated by Oseni, they might as well take it to the EFCC or the Force CID, or even to AIG Zone 2.”
Also responding to the allegation of police suppression, Deputy Commissioner of Police Yetunde Longe acknowledged the pendency of the case before the police, adding it has been reassigned for reinvestigation.
“I can confirm that the case has been transferred for reinvestigation to the Force CID, that’s the Police Special Fraud Unit on Milverton Road in Ikoyi.”
But commenting on the police response, Prince Onuakalusi, the Petitioner’s lawyer denied knowledge of the transfer of the case to the Force CID.
“If they’ve truly transferred the case to the Force CID, why didn’t they communicate same to us the Petitioner? How come we are just hearing this from you, the journalist, not from them,” he said.
“Besides, how possible is it to unceremoniously transfer a case that’s under the jurisdiction of the state police command to the federal jurisdiction? Does it not sound curious to you?” he wondered.