Special Fraud Unit arrests 'fake' Benin prince who defrauded ex-lawmaker of $1.5m

Police detectives attached to the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Milverton, Lagos State, have arrested some men, who posed as international businessmen, members of House of Representatives and members of Benin Kingdom’s royal family to defraud a former lawmaker of $1.5 million.

According to reports, Investigation of the suspects started on July 28, 2017 with a crack team of detectives going to Murtala International Airport, Lagos State, to arrest the syndicate’s leader identified as Franklin Osiemwonyi Izekor, 45, aka Prince Joshua Akenzua. It was learnt that rather than follow the policemen, Izekor resisted arrest, fought the policemen and even attempted to abduct one of the policemen in his car.

Although the lawmaker, Eseme Eyiboh, told detectives that he was swindled of over $1.5 million, Izekor insisted that the money was just $1 million and another N47 million. A police source said: “The amount of money involved in this scam is no longer the issue. What’s important is that the principal suspect, Franklin Osiemwonyi Izekor, who was posing as a prince of Oba of Benin, admitted that he actually defrauded the victim.”

Aside Izekor, other members of the syndicate are Stephen Victor aka James Ajayi, Bolade Babatunde aka Honourable Lawal Adewunmi, Tola aka Peter Ajayi (still at large) and Alhaji Saka Jimoh (67). How the syndicate was able to zero in on the lawmaker is still nebulous, however, it was learnt that trouble started for Eyiboh after he landed a juicy contract with Exxon Mobil.

He needed some items, which were mostly overseas to execute the contract. The lawmaker was aware that there is an anti-bulk movement of money treaty, including dollars, which Nigeria is a signatory to. He was not too sure how to get the vital items from overseas, especially since he couldn’t transfer bulk dollars. One day, he received a phone call from his colleague Honourable Lawal Adewunmi (Bolade Babatunde), who was also a member of the House of Representatives.

He didn’t know that he was speaking with a fake ‘Honourable Lawal Adewunmi.’ ‘Adewunmi’ exchanged pleasantries and soon delved into businesses. Eyiboh, thinking he was speaking with a concerned friend, spilled out his gut and his present contract. ‘Adewunmi’ then promised to link him up with some international businessmen, who were agents of a company called ‘International Foreign Exchange Monitoring Agency. Eyiboh was made to believe that it was an international money order organisation and an affiliate of American Forex Organisation with address at Plot 16, Agbara Estate, Ogun State.

The syndicate convinced Eyiboh to part with $30,000 which was supposed to be money for him to be part of the organisation. After paying the money, he was given a registration form to fill and return. A member of the syndicate, Stephen Victor, who called and introduced himself as James Ajayi, met with Eyiboh at his residence in Abuja, where he used the opportunity to screw every loose nuts into place, drawing the lawmaker completely into their web of deceit. Eyiboh later alleged that Izekor presented himself as Prince Joshua Akenzua, representing International Foreign Exchange Monitoring Agency, which could assist him to acquire some equipment needed to execute a contract he won with Exxon Mobil. “The lawmaker said that he paid N47,133,000, through four bank accounts. Later, Izekor collected $45,000 in cash from him,” the police source added.

On August 8, 2017, Izekor was arrested at the local wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, while trying to collect more money from Eyiboh. Izekor’s statement was later used to arrest Stephen and Babatunde. “Investigation revealed that Izekor, Babatunde, Stephen and Tola conspired to fraudulently obtain from the complainant various sums of money amounting to N47,133,000 and $45,000.
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