Dateline was November 15, 2019, and a Friday. Popular Kwara based Islamic cleric Mustafa Ismail Offa after leading prayers in the Mosque retired home to be with his family when there was a knock on his door.
“How may I help you,” he asked the men who later identified themselves as policemen who claimed that they have been looking for him. Confused, he asked to know what his crime was when one young man whom he later realized was Isiaka Olatunde Adebayo pointed at him and said that he is the one.
He became more confused when he was accused of defrauding one Ganiyu Oriyomi of the sum of N38 million.
Luckily, operatives of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) who were investigating the matter decided to probe further and in the process uncovered that Isiaka Olatunde Adebayo and his brother, Olatunji Ismail Adebayo were the real masterminds behind the fraud.
According to a police source, operatives acted on a petition by one Ganiyu Oriyomi, a professional builder who alleged that between 2014 and 2019 one Isiaka Olatunde Adebayo who happens to be one of his workers defrauded him.
He was persuaded to part with about N38 million as gratitude to pave way for a multi-million-naira contract from the Federal Government. He was made to believe that Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser under President Goodluck Jonathan had several contracts and had asked one of his personal assistants to source for credible contractors.
The suspects, who are professional fraudsters, kept demanding for money to help facilitate the award of the contract till 2015 election was concluded.
It took six years of endless wait for Oriyomi to realize that the persons communicating with him were resident in Offa, Kwara State.
Acting on the petition, police detectives were able to arrest Isiaka and in an attempt to divert attention of the police, alleged that all the money collected was given to one Mustafa Ismail, a popular Islamic cleric in Offa. He alleged that it was Imam that claimed to have contacts with Dasuki. He personally took the detectives to the home of the cleric and said that he was the one.
Luckily, when the cleric insisted that he knew nothing about the fraud, detectives decided to dig further and discovered that the cleric is innocent. Facts gathered revealed that Isiaka and his elder brother, Olatunji actually committed the crime and conspired to rope in the cleric if caught. Isiaka on realizing that police might find the truth fled to Ogun State where he was later nabbed and his elder brother also arrested.
“When Isiaka was initially arrested, his elder brother, Olatunji who turned out to be the mastermind actually threatened to sue the police for detaining Isiaka whom he claimed was innocent”, the source stated.
Grateful to God and thankful to the police for thoroughly investigating the matter, Mustafa said he thought such could only happen in movies. “I kept pleading that I am innocent and that young man kept insisting that I was the mastermind behind the N38 million fraud against one Oriyomi that I have never met in my life. I am a popular Islamic cleric in Offa and the Moslem community was disappointed when police arrested me. I am very happy that the IRT operatives listened to my plea and did further investigation. I was shocked that Olatunji who I took as a friend and a committed Moslem faithful would have the mind to accuse me of a crime that he knew that I did not commit. I thank Allah because I can imagine what would have been my fate if police refused to do proper investigation. It still feels like a movie, I am happy because I will be able to teach in the mosque and people will listen.”
The Dasuki and Imam connection
According to Olatunji Adebayo, the cleric was the only one whom he felt is rich enough to rescue them from the debt. “I don’t know what got into me but I know that my friend, the Imam is a successful one in Offa. He is well known and rich, that was why I told Isiaka to mention his name if police should arrest him. I am sorry and I promise that I will never do it again or even attempt to defraud anyone.”
On the matter that landed him and his younger brother in police net, Olatunji admitted to the police that he is a fraudster and a part-time farmer. “ I am from Offa in Kwara State and I am based there. My brother Isiaka who is based in Osun normally tells me about his boss, Oriyomi who is very generous. I sold an idea to him how we will make money without raising any suspicion. Pretending to be Dasuki’s personal assistant I convinced him that I could help him get contract from the Federal Government. To encourage me, he needed to send money to me to facilitate the process. This was in 2014 and after PDP lost the election and Dasuki was arrested, we told him that I am on the run because government was investigating everyone. I told him that they are tracking all our account numbers and I could not process the contract as agreed.
“He agreed to send more money and I asked him to send it to Isiaka who will transfer it to me since I fled to India. I was in Offa all the while but with software I can create a phone number that showed that I was in India. We kept collecting money from him till he started threatening and asking for refund.
He even went as far as traveling to India to meet me not knowing that I was in Offa. When police started looking for Isiaka, I knew that they might find us so we agreed on a way out.
“I am very close to the Imam and I know that he is very rich. I asked Isiaka to mention his name because since he is rich, police will release and forget the matter. I never knew that it would backfire. I am so sorry and if police will release us, we will refund the money which is not more than N8 million.”
On his part, Olatunde Isiaka Adebayo claimed that it was his brother who brought the idea to defraud Oriyomi.
“I am 35 and married with three kids. I am a specialist in constructing roofs. I relocated to Osun after my training and luckily I met Oriyomi who was satisfied with my work and anytime he has a job, I must be part of it. He was indeed generous and I told my brother about him. One day my brother visited Osun and saw the type of big projects that he was handling. He suggested that we should defraud him and I agreed.
“I told Oriyomi that my kinsman who is based in Abuja works with Dasuki. I connected him to my brother who introduced himself as Akeem Adebayo. He became interested and offered money to facilitate the process and kept collecting. When Dasuki was arrested, we also used that opportunity to collect more money from him till he started disturbing us to give him back his money. I knew that police was looking for me that was why I conspired with my brother to implicate the Imam. He is very rich and has enough money to pay our debt even if they arrest him. This was why I mentioned his name and took police to his house at Offa where he was arrested.
“I was hoping that he would decide to pay the money and save his name. Unfortunately police started checking the account numbers that were used to transfer the money and my brother’s account was linked to it. When police invited me to Abuja, I knew that my game was up and decided to run away. I don’t know how they tracked me down to Ogun State where I was hiding. I am sorry; we are paying for our sins especially accusing the Imam falsely. He is completely innocent.”
Isiaka insisted that the total money collected was about N8 million and not N38 million as alleged. “Even if you add the cost of traveling to India, it is not up to N10 million.”
Why I fell for their bait
Their victim, Ganiyu Oriyomi lamented that he never knew that he was spending money on fraudsters till they were arrested. “Their story sounded real and since 2014 they have been cooking up one story or the other why I should spend money. He told me that his name was Akeem Adebayo from my Kwara State and that he is a close personal assistant to Dasuki. He had so much information about Dasuki that I believed them. Most importantly, I have helped Isiaka with so many jobs that he was well paid. I never expected him to conspire with anyone against me. They even lured me to India not knowing that they were not there.”