A bolt driver, Nwobodo Ifeanyichukwu Peter, has narrated how his passenger hypnotised him and robbed him of his car in the Festac area of Lagos State.
The car, an ash Toyota Corolla with registration number JJJ88DC, is yet to be found after several weeks.
Peter’s family, who alleged that the case of theft, which was reported at Area E Police Command, had grounded to a halt with nothing being done, blamed the Area Commander, Halilu Muawiya, for allegedly stalling the case.
Peter gave the name of the alleged car thief as Chris Ngwu.
The suspect’s name was discovered following the arrest of his friend.
He said: “On July 8, which was on a Wednesday, I came to Festac to drop a lady.
“On leaving Festac, a fair young bearded man stopped me.
“He was on a commercial motorcycle.
“He sounded desperate.
“He alighted and told me that he needed to go to Chevron, which was after Lekki.”
Peter, who is driving a cab to make ends meet, was not going to turn down an opportunity to make money, although he felt Chevron was a bit far.
He said: “I asked him to make a proper request, so that we could start the trip.
“That was when he told me that he was not with his smart phone.
“He was with a small Tecno phone, which I saw.
“I then asked him to enter, he did and we negotiated and agreed on N20,000.
“This was happening between 5pm and 6pm.
“As we headed towards Second Rainbow, he said that he needed to call his girlfriend, to make a transfer into my account.
“He asked me to assist him with my phone to send a text message to his girlfriend, that there was no airtime in the Tecno phone with him.
“I gave him my phone and he sent a message, but after some minutes, I asked him how his girlfriend would know the account to transfer the money to since she didn’t have my account details.
“I suggested he should call the girl to explain.
“He said it was a good suggestion, collected my phone, called and discussed it with the girlfriend.
“Some minutes after the phone call ended, I got an alert of N20,000.
“On getting to Mega Chicken at Second Rainbow, he instructed me to stop, that he needed something to eat.
“He stepped down, went into the Mega Chicken and came to say he forgot something in his hotel room at Festac, that I should take him there to pick it up.
“He entered the car and I drove off.
“When we got to 400 Road, Festac, he asked me to stop, that he needed to pick something from someone.
“I stopped again, he stepped out, entered a compound close to FCMB. I decided to make a withdrawal and also to check my account balance.
“I found out that the N20,000 transferred into my account was not there.”
Peter said a few minutes after he went back to his car, Ngwu came out.
He immediately told him that the N20,000 was not in his account.
Peter said: “He tapped my shoulder and said: ‘Don’t worry, you’ll see it soon. Ot’s network.’
“And that was the last thing I remembered.
“I lost consciousness or lost my senses.
“I woke up to find myself in a hotel room.
“I was shocked.
“I asked myself repeatedly how I got to the hotel room.
“I couldn’t remember anything.
“In fact, it was the heavy knocking on the hotel door that woke me up.
“I was feeling groggy.
“It was the hotel receptionist that was knocking.
“He came to ask me to settle bills for room, food, drinks and other things.
“The receptionist told me that the guy that brought me left at night.
“I later got to hear that the guy tried to settle the bills with my Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card, but it showed insufficient funds.
“He had told the receptionist that I gave him my Personal Identification Number.
“He then told them that he wanted to go and collect cash from any nearby ATM gallery.
“He left and nobody had seen him since then.
“I was shocked when the receptionist told me I gave my ATM card and PIN to a total stranger.
“The hotel staff asked me how I could follow a strange man into a hotel room, if I didn’t know him.
“I asked them if anyone in his or her right senses would follow a strange man into a hotel room.
“It was at that point that the receptionist told me the guy and I entered the hotel at almost 11pm.
“I was told that when we got to the hotel, I waited in the car, while the guy went into the hotel room.
“He came out later to tell one of the security guards to call me.
“They said I came out and followed him into the hotel room.
“But the hotel workers insisted I must pay the bills.
“I told them that I was a victim, just as they were.”
Peter said when it dawned on him that he had fallen into the hands of deadly fraudsters, he borrowed a phone and called his sister.
He narrated his ordeal to the woman.
“My sister said that since last night, someone had been using my phone to chat with them, telling them that I had been arrested by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
“That drug was found in my car, that they should send money to my account, so that he would withdraw and use it to settle the NDLEA operatives.
“He chatted with everyone on my contact to the extent that he chatted with my boss.
“Yes, the man that gave me the car to drive.
“He also chatted with my uncle, who is living overseas.
“He told my uncle that NDLEA operatives would kill me.
“Out of fear, my sister sent money.”
Peter told his sister where he was, only after verifying the area from the receptionist.
The receptionist told Peter that the hotel is called Brighams Suites Limited on 6th Avenue, Festac, Lagos.
When his sister got there, they decided to go to the police station to lodge a complaint.
Peter recalled that Ngwu had stopped somewhere, close to an FCMB to see a friend.
He also remembered that the friend escorted Ngwu out when he was leaving.
He told the police that he didn’t know the name of the area, but that he could recollect the building.
The police went there and sure enough, Peter recognised the guy that Ngwu stopped to check.
The young man was arrested.
But the man, in his defence, said he had not seen Ngwu for years, that he was shocked to see him that day.
He added: “At the police station, I was asked to write a statement, detailing everything that transpired.
“They said I was a suspect as well because the car was not mine.
“We were delayed for hours and at a point, we no longer knew what was going on.
“The hotel receptionist also came to the station, with other staff.
“The Divisional Police Officer in charge of Festac Police Station asked them to detain the two of us; the receptionist and I.
“We were detained overnight.
“The following morning, I didn’t know what happened, but they brought us out and took us to the Area Command to meet the Area Commander.
“The Area Commander blamed me for everything.
“He accused me, despite my explanation.
“He said I was gay, that that was why I went with the car thief to the hotel room.”
Peter said Ngwu’s friend was later released.
He added: “I’m begging the police to investigate this matter.
“I’m innocent and I am sure the hotelier and workers know Ngwu.
“How can they give him room, food and clothes without him paying?
“He must have lodged there before.”
More baffling to Peter was the hotel staff claims that they didn’t know any detail about the suspect, yet gave him room, clothes, food and drinks on credit.
The family members of Peter were not happy the police released the only suspect, who had a link to Ngwu.
It was through him that everyone got to know the identity of the suspect.
The family had expected that through him, Ngwu would have been tracked and arrested.
However, the Area Commander, Muawiya, debunked the allegation that he perverted justice despite the release of the hotel staff and Ngwu’s friend.
The area commander said investigation was ongoing in the matter.
He added: “The fact that the suspects were released didn’t mean investigation will not go on.
“We are on the matter and investigation is going on.
“Releasing someone doesn’t mean we are not on the matter.”