Putting people in bondage is one of the things Margaret Obogwo does for a living according to her confession to a team of detectives recently. Evidence of her trade including several padlocks, puppets bound together and photographs of different people were found in her office.
“This man (pointing at a picture) owed me N100, 000 and has sworn that he will not pay me. I dealt with him. Today, he cannot afford to feed his family,” she said.
As per the bunch of padlocks tied with several ropes, she said: “They belong to women and men who came to my office seeking to control their husbands, wives or employer. If I loosen the ropes, the people (victims) will become free.”
Detectives ordered her to set all victims free. She agreed but took exception over one. “Please, don’t force me to release that man that owes me,” she begged. “He is very wicked and deserves what he got.”
For the next few minutes, she set about removing the knot spell she cast over her victims. “Nothing will happen to my customers,” she explained. “The only thing is that the person (victim) will regain his or her senses and might refuse to co-operate again.”
This grim reality is an aperture to the wild, weird world of self-acclaimed spiritualist, founder and General Overseer, Solution Center Ground, located at Oyisa Street, along old Akesan Road, Egan–Igando, a suburb of Lagos.
Obogwo, recently arrested by Inspector General of Police, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) after one of her victims reported her for allegedly defrauding her by failing to provide a solution to her problem.
The grim exhibits recovered from her office which also served as a shrine were brought by her customers, she claimed. She maintained that she was simply a spiritualist helping people to solve their problems.
Her catalogue of wrongdoings also includes running a miracle scam for unscrupulous pastors.
The decision to become a spiritualist
In a lengthy interview with Saturday Sun at IRT annex office Lagos, Obogwo, a native of Otukpo, Benue State claimed it was the vicissitude of life and the desperation to survive at all cost that led her to become a spiritualist.
She narrated: “My husband died 10 years ago and the circumstances surrounding his death showed that he was killed with juju. They envied him because he was hardworking and successful. He just became sick. No one could tell why he was sick. Months later, he died. I was devastated and confused. I was a housewife who depended solely on her husband for everything. During the time we were trying to cure my husband, we visited several spiritual homes and they took our money without doing anything. It was one of the native doctors in Benue who finally discovered what the issue was about and informed us. By then, it was too late. After his death, I used the little money that I saved to start buying and selling yams and was taking care of our three children from the proceed. Gradually, I was running out of money. My friend then advised me to relocate to Lagos where she said there was a lot of opportunities.”
With her children in her mother’s care, she’d travelled to Lagos in search of a greener pasture but got trapped in the quagmire of the hard-knock life. “I tried my best to get a job. I tried my hands on different things, including selling fairly used cloth but I wasn’t making any progress. I couldn’t bring my children to Lagos because I was barely surviving. And because I was a widow, men were taking advantage of me.”
At a point, she sought a supernatural relief to her travails. “A woman, Mama Seun, introduced me to one prophet and he prayed for me that things would get better.” Obogwo was at first impressed that the prophet could knew so much about her; but eventually, she saw through him, that his prophecies was a hoax: “I never knew that my friend had told the prophet already about my situation that was why he had so much information about me.”
The experience was a life-changing episode for her: “When I discovered what happened that day, I decided to make myself useful.”
She resolved to become a spiritualist. She travelled back to Benue to meet a native doctor for training. “I stayed in the village with him for one year where I learnt how to used herbs to cure all kinds of ailment. I also learnt the spiritual side of it which I knew would be very useful to me in Lagos. I fortified myself by performing some sacrifices since I might start making money, I did not want them to kill me the way they killed my husband.”
Based on her experience, she acquired specific abilities for the Lagos market, which she described as “the gift to make people rich, marry any husband or wife of their choice, destroy their enemies and even control their employer.”
At the end of her one-year apprenticeship under the spiritualist in Benue, she returned to Lagos. “When I came back, I advertised my work on the streets and luckily some persons called. This was how I started six years ago. When you come to my house and succeed, you will go back and tell your family.”
In just three months, she experienced a boom and was able to bring her children from the village to live with her in Lagos. The office she opened, branded Solution Centre, soon became a sanctuary for the sick people and the lovesick.
“I have helped a lot of women to find a husband,” she admitted. “Most of them (men) tell you that they love you and will continue to have sex with you without any plan to marry you. My job is to make sure that the man must marry that woman.”
How she does this reveals the dark side of her profession: “The lady will just bring the photograph, his underwear or a used condom. I will put those things in a pot and use a key to lock it up. As long as those things are locked in the pot, that man will not only remain married to the woman, he will take good care of the woman. I do not see anything wrong in that because the man has been sleeping with the woman.”
She continued: “I have helped a lot of people to have children through the herbs. I have helped a lot of men that can no longer have a proper erection to recover. I have assisted a lot of men and women to control their employers. Since I started this business, I have successfully helped more than 200 persons to solve their problems. If I am not gifted, I would have closed down the prayer house a long time ago.”
She, however, did not claim omnipotence. “It is not every sickness that will get cured,” she said. “Those who complained against me are those who are destined to die with their problems.”
Dealing with pastors
Obogwo claimed her customers also include fake pastors. “They visit my office to get power, which I know, most times, does not work.”
In conjunction with unscrupulous clerics, she was able to create a booming racket: “While I was struggling to survive in Lagos, I met a woman who took me to a pastor to pretend that I was sick and when he prayed for me, I became cured. I did that in several churches and made small money.
“This was how I got the experience. So anytime pastors visit me, I would advise them to allow me to hire people who will come to their church and pretend that they are sick. I started supplying different churches and they pay them N5000.”
The racket, according to Obogwo, was easy to organise: “There are so many persons in Lagos that are stranded. They leave their villages with the hope that there is plenty of money in Lagos. I normally recruit and force them to take an oath of secrecy.”
The fake miracle racket helps pastors to increase their congregation, she claimed. “I have a long list of them (pastors) and most times I also attend the church to observe and make sure that the people I contracted are doing their assignment very well. It is also necessary so that I will ask for extra money if the money they made that day is big,” Obogwo alleged.
By the time she came to the end of her story, it was apparent to her that her braggadocio will not get her off the hook. Obogwo changed tactics.
“I am sorry and I hope God will forgive me. Most of those pastors are genuine; it is just that they want to make plenty of money from the members. It is the devil who is pushing them into such activities and I also allowed the devil to use me,” she submitted.
Why then was she deceiving people in the name of God?
She responded: “It is not every prayer that God answers; I simply help God to convince people to repent by helping pastors to perform fake miracles and those in need of love, money and power to smile.”
On why her complimentary card has a Bible verse, she said: “It is Exodus 25 verse 23, it has no meaning,” she defended. “I just added it so that pastors will feel at home when they come here. Read it, it means nothing. It is just saying something about wood.”
Asked why she did not use her power to change her destiny or that of her children, she avowed: “It does not work that way. You are not allowed to try it on your family members. It is the monetary gifts we receive from customers that we use to better our lives. If you are lucky, you could meet a generous person who will build a house for you. Unfortunately, in Igando area, rich people hardly come to visit me. I was planning to own a website so that I can reach out to everybody before the police arrested me.”
Faced with the magnitude of her wrongdoing, Margaret Obogwo resorted to pleading: “Please forgive me. Let me go. I have promised myself that I will serve God and stay away from all these fake life. If they are real, I will not be in this situation.”