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Prey To Fake Prayers

By Anthony Okoro, P.M. News (Lagos), 13 November 2000

Lagos—A Yoruba adage posits that if there is no conniving enemy within one's surrounding, it is difficult for one to fall prey to the enemy outside. This aptly fits the plight of a middle-aged man who was confronted with the choice of either losing all he has laboured for in life or have his wife die mysteriously.

Just like the Bible scenario in which Jesus Christ, without meeting the Samaritan woman ever before, told her all that has happened in her life, following which wonderful revelation, the woman believed in Christ and invited her people to believe the messiah, Mr. Oyebanji Oshin, looking for his daily bread, came across one Samuel Wole who told him what was happenning at that time in his household. He warned him about dangerous consequences he risked if he refused to listen to the dictates of the spirit.

According to Mr. Oshin, the fake 'seer' told him that he saw a vision that he, the complainant and his family, were being haunted by some enemies. The prophet thus offered to help him appease the spirit to liberate him from the grips of his enemies.

To further convince him, he was invited to a river bank where he had several cleansing baths and Bible was put on the ground and suddenly, a voice echoed from nowhere conversing with the priest and his 'catch'. Later, a deal was struck and terms of appeasing the evil spirits were spelt out to the complainant.

After promising me liberation from the spell, I followed him to the river for bath where I was promised a spiritual help through prayer. At the river bank, I was asked to bring 3 types of money denominations, he said.

He was also requested to produce three Ghana-must-go bag, he was assured that the spirit would transfer the money back to his domain, for a bountiful blessing, the 'prophet' advised him to buy two boxes of about 4ft 2' in a very secure place in his apartment. On the third day, the boxes, he was assured, would be full of money, while the spell would also be cast out of his family.

All the while, he never knew that there was a spy very close to him, feeding the 'prophet' about developments in his house. The information at the disposal of the'seer' usually ensured his confidence while meeting the 'prophet' to further prove that he was sent by a God to liberate him.

To facilitate the sacrifice, the complainant was asked to pay some money. After parting with the sum of N150,000, the 'prophet', like Oliver Twist, kept coming for more and more. To have the 'prophetic' syndicate save his son and wife from untimely death, 46-year old Mr. Oshin who hailed from Iganna, Oyo State sold his Daewoo Racer and paid them another N160,000 to purchase candles and other sundry things.

Later, they asked for blood of a close relative or loved one for sacrifice so that the spirit of the incoming wealth would not be demanding for his life. This, the complainant refused the 'spirits'. The seer then offered to slaughter one Segun as a favour from the gods to the complainant, but before the ritual was performed, he was made to sign an undertaking in his letter headed paper that he would keep the secret.

Later, they asked for a sacrifice with the blood of my relative or any loved one, I refused them. They offered to give me one Segun which they would slaughter after I signed an undertaking that I would not tell anyone, I did it on my letter headed paper.. I took an oath that I would not tell anybody. Then they blindfolded me so that I will not see the blood... he told the police.

But unknowing to the complainant, there was no murder, the issue of killing Segun was another blackmail to make him shut up about the whole affair; to prevent him from reporting to the police whenever he discovered that he had been duped, the accused person's confessional statement later unfolded this.

At Alakuko Police Station, Samuel Wole who confessed being a fraudster by profession and who resides at 3 Alabi -Okute, Iju said he has been in the business since 1996, duping so many unsuspecting victims. He confirmed that one Sunday informed him about the complainant's problem and his financial status, it was the information gathered from the said Sunday that he employed to convince the complainant into parting with more and money. He confirmed that it was one of his gang members who was speaking through the pipe, posing as a spirit by the river bank.

The accused stated further that he did not kill anybody but only used the killing to scare the complainant that as an accomplice in a murder, he would not report the matter to the police, but there is no respite for the complainant as the accused revealed that the money has already been shared by the gang.

The investigating police team having been satisfied with the circumstances surrounding the committal of the offence concluded that the matter be charged to court on holden charge to enable them arrest other accomplices, while the first accused is remanded in prison custody. In their findings, the police held that Samuel was a fake priest, who took the complainant to the river for spiritual bath and collected N350,000 using various tactics on the complainant and other unsuspecting victims.

To this end, he was charged to court on a three-count charge conspiring with others now at large sometime in June 2000 at Ijaiye Ojokoro in the Ikeja magisterial district to commit felony to wit: obtaining under false pretence and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 516 of the Criminal Code Cap 31 Volume 2 Laws of Lagos.

That you Samuel Wole at the same time and date did with intent to defraud, obtain the sum of N350,000 from one Oyabanji Oshin under the pretence that you would cure his sick wife, a representation which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 419 of the criminal code, reads the second charge.

Charge number MIK/B/300/2000 also alleged that Samuel Wole did steal the sum of N350,000 property of the said Oyebanji Oshin, contrary to the provision of Section 390 (9) of the Criminal Code.

Having pleaded not guilty to the charges pressed against him, the accused was released on bail in the sum of N300,000 with two sureties in the like sum, while the case was adjourned for further hearing.