Trial began in the alleged case of fraud against fake Army General, Bolarinwa Oluwasegun Abiodun, when the alleged victim, Mr. Bamidele Olusegun Safiriyu who is the first prosecution witness narrated to the court how the defendant used the name of former President Olusegun Obasanjo (alias OBJ) to defraud him to the tune of N266.5milion.
The business man at the commencement of trial told Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court that the defendant falsely represented himself as a General in the Nigerian Army, and obtained the sum of N266,500,000 from Kodef Clearing Resources Limited, which is a registered freight forwarding business owned by him since 28th April, 2008.
Explaining the circumstances that connected him and the defendant while being led in evidence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, the business man said, “I know Mr. Abiodun Olusegun Bolarinwa in 2017 on the Friday sometimes in April. According to him, “One of the trucks I loaded going on its way with a 2006 Honda Accord was detained, he detained the truck because he moved with soldiers.”
He continued that he however got a call from the defendant on Saturday that some soldiers had hijacked the container.
He noted, “The defendant called me and introduced himself as son to OBJ.
“He told me that my truck is with him at Abule Egba.”
The witness said he asked the defendant how he got his number, but he told him that he was going to release his truck.
He added that he told his brother, they called him and traced him to where he was and that’s how they began relating from that day.
He told the court that the defendant even came in a convoy of Nigerian Army, and that he was in mufti.
The witness went on to say, “One of the cars he drove in had Baba OBJ banner at the back. “People even asked me, Is that Baba’s son?
He said the defendant later sent him a message that he was going to be appointed as the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, and would be needing his assistance because he is going to buy all the things that he needs in the Army.
Speaking further, the victim said he once asked himself, ‘He claimed he is Baba’s son, why does he need my help, I thought being Baba’s son, it is just a call to him.”
He claimed that the defendant said Baba does not want to help because of his polygamous home.
He explained that the defendant said when he becomes COAS, he will repay him his monies.
He narrated that in 2018, a number came into his phone, stating Hi, ADC Obasanjo, adding, “Baba, is trying to reach me and that I am not picking his call.
He told the court that he replied the message, stating that he saw only a text, and that there was no call.
He however told the caller, “If he calls, I will speak with him.
Afterwards, Mr. Bamidele Olusegun Safiriyu said, “A number called me with the name, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, saying I want you to help your brother, once he becomes COAS, imagine a man with that stature speaking with me, what do I do?
“Thereafter, messages would be coming from that phone, I did not know he was not even in the Army.”
He said that a party was held in Ijebu-Ode in December, 2018, where the defendant came in a convoy of military guys in Peugeot 406, G-Wagon and other vehicles: “With all these, I have nothing to doubt, let alone knowing that he was not being a general.
”In 2020, March 5th, he invited me for Baba’s birthday, we met at a filling station, where he told me it’s Baba’s station.
“We greeted Baba and Baba, now shook my hand.
Regarding a scheduled meeting to see Baba in respect of the defendant, he said the meeting never held, giving the reason, “In the messages he sent to me, Baba would would say I should go to Biodun, later he will say I can’t come again, because I have to travel to out of the country.”
The witness said he was unaware he had fell for lies until a COAS was appointed.
He said on May 20, 2020, he sent me appointment letter that he has been appointed as COAS, adding, “I read through, I saw a tone that if he is receiving this appointment that he had to send N10 million.”
“Baba told me to send it to Biodun’s account, I still believed that we are on course, noting that the messages for money was coming from Baba’s number.
He explained that following the death of late COAS, Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, I received information that ‘General’ has been rushed to the hospital and that they have appointed somebody else, he added that the ‘General’ told him later that he is taking the government to court and that he is not going to agree, saying that in fact, his lawyer, Mr. Falana is with him now.
“I told him that government is the one that can decide who becomes the COAS, but since then he stopped calling and picking my calls.”
During their interactions, according to the witness, he said the defendant at some point said he was involved in armed deals, and that he would have been sacked if not for Baba.
The witness had stressed during the trial that when the defendant refers to Baba, he meant Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR.
He continued narrating his ordeal in the hands of the defendant, thus, “I didn’t know anything until I went to Baba.”
It was later I got to know that he was not even in the Army, he was not at anytime, even if he he had been in the Army, why would I sponsor someone for COAS, he replied during a probing by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Oyedepo.
“I felt he is truly in the Nigerian Army, all his numbers I stored with General Bolarinwa,” he said.
The witness also gave vivid description and tendered all documents to butress his allegations to the court.
During the proceeding the court admitted in evidence, a Letter of Appointment that the witness said was sent to him by the defendant dated 11 October, 2021.
The defence counsel, Mr. Kayode Lawal had opposed admitting the letter on the premise that there’s an annexure to the letter, but the judge ruled otherwise, she admitted and marked it as exhibit A.
The prosecution witness presented to the court; Certificate of Confirmation as COAS sent to the victim through WhatsApp, banks’ statements, from 2018 to 2021, Letter of Appointment as COAS dated 20th May, 2020, purportedly signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, sent to the victim via WhatsApp.
Also, the witness presented the conversations between him and the defendant, sent to him via WhatsApp, asking that he should send names of persons he would like to invite for his inauguration.
According to him, Mr. Safiriyu said he sent names of his wife, a customer and one of his police friends.
Adding that his customer was even asking him, which of OBJ son is in the Army, because he knows only Gboye and I said it’s Biodun, he replied that he does not know him as Baba’s son.
At a point, the EFCC counsel urged the witness to narrate the staged arrangement between him and OBJ’s at a birthday party, which was said to had been put up by the defendant, the witness continued, “Many people came, they were downstairs, we were hosted, he sat in Peugeot 406.”
He continued his evidence, speaking on his ordeal from the defendant, “It was all lies, if I had known?”
“I am owing people over N200million, there was silence about my money, in fact I thought that anytime I meet Baba, that there would be an outburst.”
He then said, he went to Baba, but Baba asked, “How are you able to do this, in fact, Baba said he is also looking for Biodun.
“My Lord, as I said earlier, I am in serious debts, nowhere to recover this money.
“I made a formal demand, he answered me, ‘Go and meet Baba.’
When the witness was asked if he has the numbers used in communicating with Baba, he replied,”Yes.”
Starting out with his own number, he mentioned the following, 08063141450 (allegedly used consistently); 08055569333 ( number allegedly used by the defendant to call the victim the first time and which he said he doesn’t use often because Nigerian Army and his purported father Baba OBJ are monitiring; while he gave Baba’s number as 08034924523.
He however informed the court, “As we speak My Lord, this number is still in use, it is still being used to scam unsuspecting Nigerians.”
The witness also said that the defendant denied his number, he stressed that the mistake, “The mistake I made that day is I did not collect his number.”
He highlighted that there is nobody the number is used to call and with that voice, he said, “There is no one that will not believe.”
He also said there was a time that he sent him a number 0805010000 as Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida number.
He said he asked him why am I calling IBB, he said just say, “Happy Birthday.”
On 13th March, he sent me inauguration invitation and pictures of the programme for his inauguration.
The unending details of how the defendant alledgesly conned the witness, included that he senthim picture of a bullet proof BMW, when he was with OBJ.
He also sent me pictures of himself wearing a singlet and brandishing an AK-47 riffle.
“My Lord, one thing I noticed is that he usually call me around 2:00a.m when I am already sleeping. Most times, he is not wearing uniform but most of those following him are always in uniform but he is not on uniform in our video calls.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 used by the victim in communicating with the defendant was admitted and marked as exhibit.
The court had earlier denied the defendant bail, before standing the matter down for trial.
The judge howeve adjourned till Friday, April 28, 2022 for cross-examination of the prosecution witness.