By Ngozi Uwujare
As a seasoned herbalist, he is sought after by people who need him to get their problems solved. Unfortunately, for years, the herbalist was undergoing immense mental and psychological misery, but he couldn’t take care of himself.
Since 2018, President of Association of Medical Herbalists, Ekiti State Branch, 80-year-old Alhaji Abdulraham Ige Coker, has been held hostage by a gang of fraudsters. The gang has kept him in bondage, milking him of millions of naira and threatening to kill him and his family if anyone got to know of whatever that transpired among them. And he never failed to do the gang’s bidding.
In three years, Alhaji Coker had sold his car and three plots of land in Ado-Ekiti. He has also paid about N15 million to the bank accounts of the unknown men threatening him and his family with death.
Recently, after another threat letter had been sent to Alhaji Coker, Ganiyat, the octogenarian’s daughter, suspected that all was not well with her father. She made him open up to her on what had kept him in perpetual anguish in the past three years. Ganiyatu promptly reported to the operatives of Ekiti State Police Command in Ado-Ekiti. A trap was set, and two suspects – Mohammed Ahmed, 50, and Babangida Umar, 38, were picked up.
Ekiti State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Tunde Mobayo told Saturday Sun that four other suspects are still at large.
He said some unknown people had been sending threat messages to the elderly man, threatening to kill him, his wife and children. He has sold plots of land, cars and other items, and sent about
Commander of Rapid Response Squad, Marcus Ogundola, a Superintendent of Police, said he led the operation that nabbed the suspects. “We laid ambush in the victim’s house. Suddenly, one of the gang members, Babangida Umar came on a bike, entered the victim’s house and dropped a threat letter at the door. We arrested him immediately. He confessed that he was a member of a six-man gang, and that it was one Mohammed Ahmed who sent him to drop the threat letter,” he said.
Ogundola said Mohammed Ahmed was subsequently arrested in Ado-Ekiti and he confessed how the victim has been paying money into their bank accounts since 2018.
“We have written to the bank to block their accounts, while we are after the four suspects who are still at large,” he told Saturday Sun.
The victim, Alhaji Coker narrated his story to Saturday Sun: “I am from Oye Local Government, Ekiti State, and the president of Association of Medical Herbalists in Ekiti State. I am into trado-medicine. The suspect, Mohammed Ahmed lived with me for 20 years before I rented an apartment for him. He was 19 years old when he wanted to kill his own father. The mother brought him from Niger State to Ado-Ekiti for me. I took care of him and he was healed. I love him more than my children. He has been staying with me for over 20 years. I rented an apartment for him, married for him and have started building a house for him. I wanted to send my wife to Mecca and I have to pay N1milion. Then suddenly, I started receiving strange calls that warned me not to tell anybody. They told me that they would kill me, my wife and all my children and that I should surrender myself to them.
“They sent me their account numbers in Keystone Bank which belongs to Mohammed Sheu and Usman Mohammed and UBA account belonging to Mohammed Ahmed and Babangida Umar. Anytime they sent me text messages, I would rush to the bank by myself and pay money into their accounts. I never told any of my children or anybody. I was suffering and dying in silence.
“Sometime in February, they again threatened me with a text message that ‘your life will end in hell and miserable, see you tomorrow.’ When I saw the text message, I didn’t go out again. I was indoors so that they would not kidnap me. I was sick and living a miserable life. It was my daughter, Ganiyat who suspected and started interrogating me. I confessed to her. She went and reported the case at the police station. I stopped picking their calls and I stopped sending money to them. I have sold all my property – my car, house and three plots of land. I wanted to sell another plot of land when my daughter suspected me.
“One of the suspects, Babangida Umar brought the threat letter to my doorstep. He was arrested and he confessed that it was Mohammed Ahmed that had been the mastermind. This was someone I took as my son, rented an apartment where he is staying with his family. He betrayed me and defrauded me of N15 million. I was shocked. Who else can I trust or believe again now? What have I done? It is only Allah who will judge him. I am disappointed,
“Whenever the fraudster sent me a text message, the same Mohamed would come around and advise me to pay the money to the caller, so that they would not kill me. I denied my wife and my children their upkeep. I love him and always seek advice from him. I never knew he was the worst enemy in my life.”
The suspect, Mohammed Ahmed, admitted to the crime. he pleaded with the Octogenarian to forgive him.
“I am from Niger State. It is true I have been with him for more than 20 years after healing me. I wanted to kill my own father and my mother quickly took me to Ado-Ekiti to Alhaji Coker, the herbalist. He took care of me and rented an apartment for me where I am living presently with my wife and three children. He is currently building a house for me. He loves me more than his children and I know everything about him. I studied him very well and I know he is always afraid. I called one of my gang members, Babangida Umar to compose a threat message which I used to send to the victim. I would threaten to kill him and his wife and mention his children’s names one after the other. I told him not to tell anybody.
“I sent my gang member’s bank account numbers to him. I told him to sell some of his plots of land, which he did. I would mention some of his plots of the land which he will sell. Over the years, we’ve collected over N15 million from him. Suddenly, he stopped picking our calls and stopped sending money to our bank accounts. I wrote another threat letter to him, but Babangida Umar was caught when he went to deliver the letter. I was also arrested and I confessed to them. I want him and his children to forgive me.”
Another suspect, Babangida Umar said Mohammed Ahmed took the lion share of the money before the rest would share. He said he confessed to the police as soon as he was picked up.
Ganiyat, Pa Coker’s daughter said the action of the fraudsters had cost her father money and good health.
“My father loves the mastermind more than he loves us his children. It is unbelievable. He has been sick since Mohammed’s arrest. My father cannot believe it,” she said.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Mobayo said the suspects would soon be charged to court.