Molly Kilete, Abuja
For wanting to be famous and richer than her ex-husband, a 52-year-old divorcee has fallen into the hand of herbalist-fraudsters who fleeced her of N11 million, in their bid to make for her a moneymaking charm.
The victim, name withheld, allegedly came in contact with one of the herbalists at the popular Wuse market in Abuja, where she had gone to do some shopping. Sources say the moment the herbalist who was hawking his local herbs at the market set his eyes on the woman he approached her and began to prophesy to her about seeing a lot of money-yielding good luck ahead of her that is being hindered by some powerful spiritual forces.
After the prophecy, they exchanged telephone numbers. Few days after the encounter, the woman called to ask for direction to one of their shrines located at Pyakasa, a village near the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). There, the herbalist introduced her to his boss.
The woman’s journey to the ‘slaughter-house’
On getting to the shine said to be highly festooned with various scary fetish objects, she was given a sheet of paper and asked to write down three important things she wants in life. She took the paper and wrote that she wants to be great in life; to make money and to be famous in the world. And, having done that, she handed the paper over to the herbalist.
Thereafter, she was asked to bring four live elephants for the moneymaking sacrifice but she confessed that she does not know where to get them. For that she was asked to pay N1.8 million in lieu of that, which she did promptly. She was also asked to buy a goat, bible and some other items needed to perform the ritual. She was assured that her heart’s desires would come to pass if she can procure the items.
But when she waited in vain for days after the sacrifice was performed and nothing happened, she went back to complain, but she was asked to make more money available because to get from the powerful spirits in charge, what she was desiring, is no mean feat. And, that was how she continued to bring money for one sacrifice or the other. By the time the scales fell off her eyes to know that she had been hoodwinked she had spent N11 million.
The discovery and arrest
As if that was not enough, they still asked her to bring another N9 million for the final ritual. It was at this point she realized that she had been duped and alerted the police about it. To get to the root of the scam and to nab the scammers red-handed, the police asked her to play along as she had always done. That way, they were able to arrest the herbalist when he came to collect the said N9 million, on behalf of his boss and others.
The suspect, Kehinde Ayoola, 37, from Ekiti State, and who is now singing like a canary, in police custody, said he has been in the business of parading himself as a prophet and dishing out fake prophecies to desperate Nigerians before ending up duping them, since 2018. He and his boss operate three fake shrines with branches at Waru, Pyakassa and Galadimawa villages in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), he disclosed.
He revealed that he does not operate alone but has other accomplices, namely, Sesan Fatoye, 30; Shola Samuko, 50 and Sheyi Fagbemi, 32. According to him, they usually go out to scout for greedy customers in order to bring them to the shrines where their boss would be waiting.
He said that the reason the shrines are highly fortified with various fetish objects is to convince their victim that they are in the right place. The suspect said he went into the illegal deal because of the financial hardship he was facing. Ayoola, who came to Abuja, early 2018, to seek greener pasture, said he relocated because everyone was making it in the nation’s capital. He confessed to have made some money from the fraudulent activities before nemesis caught up with them.
Suspect reveals how the deed was done
Ayoola opened up to Saturday Sun not only on how the scam landed them in police dragnet but also on how much he made from the deal. His story: “I came into Abuja early 2018, to sell herbs. Later, I met this woman while roaming and searching for customers and told her that I saw a vision that there are lots of good things in her front and I would like to help her. I gave her my phone number to contact me if she wants my assistance and she called me later and I directed her on how to get to our shrine at a Pyakassa.
“When I got home, I told my boss about her and not long after, the woman called and spoke with my boss, who asked her to come over. When she eventually came, my boss told her to write three things that she wants in her life and what she wants to be.
“She wrote that she wants to be great in life, that she wants to have money and she wants people of the world to know her. She said she wants to have plenty money because she and her husband are separated and that she wants to have more money than him. After that, my boss told her to buy a bible, goat and other things. After buying these items, she came to the shrine and that was how we started working on her.
“Before we started, we told her to buy goat to be used for sacrifice and that after the sacrifice she would get her blessings. We then asked her to close her eyes and start to prophesy. During the prophecy, we asked her to buy four live elephants at the cost of N450, 000 each and that if she does not know where to get them she should bring the money and she gave us N1.8 million for the purchase. We took the money but we did not buy anything because where can anyone get live elephants to buy in Abuja and four elephants for that matter? We shared the money and lied to her that we have done the sacrifice. After that, we told her to continue to bring money and she did and that was how we collected N11 million from her.
“After collecting the N11 million, we asked her to bring another N9 million. It was when I went to collect the money that the police arrested me. I got N2.1 million as my own share and bought two plots of land in my village. I gave N260, 000 to my mother who was admitted in hospital at the time and the remaining I gave to my younger ones who are in school.
‘How we get our victims’
“We operate by hawking our herbal drugs in the market and other public places where me meet our victims and start seeing fake prophecies for them. You know, people like lies, so we get them easily.”
On how many persons they have scammed, Ayoola said: “I cannot remember the number of people we have robbed but this is the first job that gave me real money.”