Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Ikoyi, Lagos State, has expressed worry over the unrelenting attitude of Nigerians in patronising visa vendors, which end up packaging them with fake travelling documents.
This was even as SFU disclosed that it has received over 1,185 applicants with fake documents from Italian Embassy, with many of them being charged to courts.
Speaking on this, the SFU Public Relations Officer, Mr Lawal Audu, said that many of the embassies, partnering with the unit, had zero tolerance for forgery. According to him, the embassies are mainly interested in issuing visas to credible Nigerians.
Audu, who said that SFU had a good working relationship with American, Italian and the British embassies, noted that each of the embassies had its peculiarities.
He said: “The American consulate general for instance; every day we receive complaints of fake visa applicants. But the most disturbing is the fake visas, fake stamps, both arrival and departure stamps. Most of these applicants appear at the consulate with passports covered with fake visas and fake travel history.”
According to Audu, the major issue is that Nigerians, seeking to travel out, prefer to go to a visa vendor, who may end up defrauding them.
He said: “These visa vendors are everywhere. They will tell prospective customers or clients that they had assisted over 100 people to get the American visa. They will promise to help. And because these visa seekers are vulnerable or don’t care to know how they can apply for visa, they fall prey.
“If you want to know how to apply for visas, just go to the internet. You don’t need to pay anyone or give money to anyone. But rather, many Nigerians prefer to give money to touts, visa agents and visa vendors. Nobody is appointed to be a visa vendor by any embassy or high commission. If these vendors are claiming to be agents of any embassy, or that they have someone working with them inside the embassy; it’s all lies. They prepare fake visa for these gullible Nigerians. Most passports of these applicants are okay, but other things are fake. These applicants appeared before the consulate, but the workers at such places are very detailed.
“They check and see the extent the applicant has gone to, in desperation to get visas. When the visas are detected to be fake, they are sent to us for proper investigation and prosecutions. We have a lot of them in the courts. The difference between the British and American embassies is that for the US, you will appear in person. You will be interviewed. But for the British Embassy you are expected to submit all your documents through the visa submission centre.
“These desperate visa seekers will procure fake bank statements, fake employment letter and sometimes fake visas. They put fake arrival and departure stamps and submit. The British sometimes, when they get such applications, will invite the applicant for an interview. After the interviewing, they might be held and handed over to us. For the Italian consulate, you submit application.”
Soldiers, naval rating, others arrested for robbery, rape, abduction
- Suspect: We rape, record video for fun
Police in Oyo State yesterday paraded two military personnel and another, who deserted the Army, for criminal activities at the Police Command Headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan, Oyo State. They were among 49 suspects paraded by the Police Commissioner, Mr. Abiodun Odude. Private Azeez Olaide (22) serving in 202 Battalion, Bama, Maiduguri, Borno State and Ibrahim Lawal (22), who deserted from the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, Kaduna State in 2004 were nabbed for kidnapping, robbery and rape. But a naval rating, Lance Corporal Jimoh Adesoye (28), was arrested for armed robbery, using his uniform to transport vehicles snatched by his gang to dispose them off. Adesoye confessed that he bought two vehicles which he knew were stolen.
Speaking with journalists, Odude said that the 49 suspects were arrested for sundry offences including armed robbery, conspiracy, kidnapping, impersonation, and obtaining money by false pretence. Exhibits recovered from them include 12 arms, 123 ammunition, five vehicles, nine motorcycles, military camouflage, cutlasses, jewellery, mobile phones, criminal charms generating set, and cash.
Olaide along with his accomplices, Ibrahim Lawal and Kehinde Adeniji (29) who were arrested by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Oyo State Police Command with four pairs of military camouflage, a pair of military desert boots and a fake military identification card, were armed with guns, Jack knife and other dangerous weapons and abducted a man, Rasak Michael, and his girlfriend, Rashidat, at Mobil area, Oluyole, Ibadan April 31 about 5p.m.
“They took the victims to a hotel where they were kept till the next day. While in captivity, the suspects took turns to rape the female victim and videotaped the sexual escapade for purpose of blackmail in future,” the commissioner said. He also said that the victims were defrauded of large sums of money through their ATM cards, the PIN numbers of which the suspects had forcibly obtained. Olaide said: “It happened that we raped a girl and collected her money worth N145,000 and I transferred the money into my account.
We arrested a guy and his girlfriend and took them to the KSA Hotel in New Garrage where we raped his girlfriend and we recorded it. We just did it for fun; we did not mean to do anything with the video in the future.
It was myself and Ibrahim that raped the girl. I am a serving soldier and I am the one that usually give my friends soldier camouflage to use during our operations.” In his account, Adesoye confessed that he received two snatched vehicles from his accomplices and helped disposed them off. He said: “I knew the vehicles were stolen before I bought and resold them.
I know what I did was wrong, but it was Satan that led me into it.” Some of the suspects are Lateef Isa (25); Taiwo and Kehinde Yekini (23); the gang leader, Tunji Ismail (21 and Adeyemo Babajide (23). Others are Saka Jamiu (20), Akin Akin Gbade (35, the gang’s armourer from who a pump action was recovered), Mudashiru Abdullahi (29), Rasheed Adeniran (26), Lukman Jimoh (35), Dauda Lamidi (24) and Waheed Ganiyu (30), who was last December released on bail from the Abolongo Prison, Oyo. Adesoye said: “I am from Ogun State. I am a seaman in the Nigerian Navy.
What led to my arrest was that I bought two stolen vehicles from these robbery suspects. It was one of my friends who introduced me to them. When I told him that I needed a car, the man said he was an importer and exporter.
I asked my friend who bought a new car if I can get one as well. That was why he introduced me to those guys. “Though I have my personal car that I am using, I said I wanted to change it and my friend said he would connect me with a man that sold him his car. A few days later they called me that the car was ready. I have two cars from the gang and I was later aware that the cars were stolen ones. “Though I know it is not right for me to buy such cars, I am so sorry. I realise now that I am at fault on this matter.”
How siblings defrauded me, Alakija tells court
Africa’s richest woman, Mrs. Folorunso Alakija, yesterday told an Ikeja High Court how Vincent Ayewah, an employee of her Rose of Sharon Foundation and his two siblings defrauded her of N3 million. Vincent, who works as a clerk and admin officer for the foundation, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside his siblings, Florence Ayewah and Emmanuel Ayewah and four others – Onuwa David, Okoronkwo Chikadibia, Ehizibolo George and Chinyere Awanah.
The EFCC alleged that Vincent duped Alakija’s foundation of the funds by forging cheques while conniving with his siblings and cohorts to pose to banks as beneficiaries of the foundation. While being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. M. D. Aliyu, Alakija said: “On November 13, 2012, my treasurer, Gladys Efiozor, called me to say that she received a call from Stanbic IBTC concerning a forgery of a cheque.
“I told her to send me an email of the forged cheque and when I saw it I told her that the signature was not mine, there are three signatories to that account and the forged sig-nature did not match those of the other signatories.
“Florence (Vincent’s sister) was the one caught with the cheque, the bank called EFCC to investigate and Florence was handed over to the EFCC. “It was discovered that the bag she was carrying had 12 different identity cards of beneficiaries of the foundation with her pictures on the identity cards. “The bag also contained cash collected from other banks from the foundation’s account.”
Alakija added that she confronted Vincent and seized his mobile phone after he had received a suspicious call and that he had also deleted an incriminating text message from his phone. She said: “He admitted to the fraud and begged for mercy. He had done other infractions in the past and had begged for mercy anytime he was caught.
“Vincent enjoyed a new lifestyle with proceeds from the scam, buying a new car which he parked far away from the premises of the office to avoid detection. “A blank cheque and a survey plan of a property were in his car. “
For Nigerians in South Africa, it’s tale of torture, murder
On April 21, Nigerians woke up to hear the horrifying news of the murder of Clement Nwaogu in South Africa. Although Nwaogu was not the first Nigerian who had been killed by the xenophobic South Africans, the manner of his murder had people dashing to catch the vomiting bowl. According to horrified witnesses, Nwaogu was burnt alive by an angry mob. Incidentally, some South African policemen were said to have stood, watching as the mob made preparation and set Nwaogu on fire.
His screams of pains didn’t touch the frenzied crowd, let alone the policemen, who had sworn to protect lives and property as they received their commissions and police badges. The Publicity Secretary of the Nigeria Union in South Africa, Mr. Habib Miller, told our correspondent on the phone that Nwaogu, from Anambra State, was attacked and killed by a mob in Rustenburg, North West Province. Miller said that the victim was murdered over his accent and habit, which the killers found offensive.
He added: “The mob descended on him with all sorts of dangerous weapons, as if he was a criminal, in the presence of South African police officers. Eyewitnesses said the victim beckoned for help from the police to intervene and help him, but they didn’t.
When Nwaogu could no longer persevere, he ran and the mob chased and caught him, poured petrol on him and set him ablaze.” Nwaogu was married to a South African and was blessed with two children; aged five and three.
Nwaogu’s murder followed the killing of ThankGod Okoro (30) by the South African Police Flying Squad. Okoro, from Enugu State, was shot dead at Hamburg, Florida West Rand, Johannesburg on April 9.
It appears that no month goes by without one Nigerian getting killed, attacked or tortured. Nigerians in South African were still mourning Nwaogu and Okoro, when two more Nigerians were killed this month.
The murder of the two, Francis Ochuba and Chidi Ibebuike, brought the official number of those killed since February 2016 to 118. It is believed that many others had been murdered, which fellow Nigerians do not know about. They are Nigerians in South Africa, who had simply disappeared into thin air.
Till date, nobody knows their whereabouts. Ochuba, a property owner, was shot dead alongside his estate agent, a female South African on May 5. They were killed while visiting the tenant occupying Ochuba’s house to collect rent.
The incident occurred in Central Johannesburg. Ibebuike, on the other hand, was shot at the entrance to his house at Hazyview in Mpumalanga on May 13 and his car taken. In January, perturbed by the escalating cases of Nigerians being attacked and killed, some Nigerians in South Africa staged a peaceful protest.
South African police swooped on them. They have been in detention since then. Most times, when these killings are being carried out, the killers gleefully record them in video and later upload the videos on You- Tube. Many reasons had been attributed for the continued murder of Nigerians in South Africa by the natives.
Nigerians have been accused of often being connected to drug trafficking, prostitution and human trafficking rings. Other absurd reasons are that Nigerians are picking the choice jobs, accommodation and women in South Africa.
But whatever the reasons, Nigerians living in South Africa are today calling for the end of the xenophobic attacks and threats. According to them, their wives and children are now living in fear, with their lives being daily threatened.
This was even as they alleged that the Nigerian government was not doing enough to ensure their protection. Miller said that a violent group in Rustenburg had earlier given Nigerians notice to vacate the area or get killed. According to him, since the order was issued, there have been numerous cases of Nigerians being kidnapped with ransom paid to their abductors.
Miller said that the 14 Nigerians in custody protested the murder of a Nigerian by policemen on December 17 after they failed to extort money from the deceased. Miller noted that the police officers had since been released on bail while those who protested the killing were still languishing in detention.
He added: “We’re worried that nothing has been done by the Nigerian government to stop the killings. We once again call on the Nigerian mission in South Africa to do the needful urgently because things are getting out of hand.”
There have been allegations that so many Nigerians are arrested and abandoned in South African prisons. Miller said: “We are not sure of number of Nigerians incarcerated in South Africa but we have intentions of finding out.” Worried by the increasing killings, he said: “It’s important to note that a violent group in Rustenburg has given Nigerians in the North West Province a quit or be killed notice. Since January that the threat was issued, there have been numerous cases of Nigerians kidnapped and ransom remitted to abductors before they were liberated.
Mr. Desmond, from Niger Delta, whose loved ones couldn’t afford to pay the ransom requested by his abductors, was inhumanely killed. Furthermore, there have been reports of eight cars belonging to Nigerians burnt.
Houses occupied by Nigerians are often ransacked and Nigerians are molested and injured. Looting of Nigerian-owned businesses and threat to lives of Nigerians are occurring on a daily basis. Nigerians in Rustenburg still live in fear.”
He said that most of the men killed were bread winners of their families in South Africa and Nigeria. Miller added: “The untold anguish, hardship, pain and disorientation they suffered were unimaginable and it calls for deeper reflections.
“Our government officials, who are supposed to pressurisetheir South African counterparts on these killings, harassment and looting of Nigerian businesses, claimed it was as a result of the illegalities our nationals are involved in. It’s unfortunate that such stance is taken to probably cover the government’s helplessness. South Africa is not the only country with Nigerian immigrants, but why so much killings?
The Nigerian Union of South Africa does not condone crime in any form, but we ask that whoever a suspect should be charged and dealt with. Our advice to the Nigerian government representatives in South Africa is to channel their energy towards eradicating the major complexities Nigerians face in South Africa, which include untimely termination of lives, harassment and business looting.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said that the Nigerian government was aware of the arrest and incarceration of the 14 Nigerians and was doing something about it.She said: “The residents of that community have threatened that if the Nigerians on trial are released on bail and return to that community, they would burn all the houses linked to Nigerians there.
They accuse Nigerians of being involved in drugs and prostitution. Nigerians were also accused of taking houses that belong to low-income South Africans and using them for crime-related activities.” Dabiri-Erewa explained that during the last hearing of the case of the 14 Nigerians, which took place a few weeks ago, the lawyer representing the suspects had to be escorted by diplomatic police. The trial was witnessed by officials of the Nigerian High Commission and Consulate.
The lawyer was escorted because the residents have also threatened to deal with anyone who made it possible for the suspects to be released on bail. She said: “Recall that in fulfilment of that threat, a Nigerian found in that area was burnt alive, three days after the last court hearing.
“While we appeal to Nigerians to stay away from crime and violence, South Africans’ killing of Nigerians is not the solution. “The embassy and consulate have been in talks with South African authorities on this. Embassy and consulate officials are meeting with local police, local communities and Nigerians in several communities. They are being proactive now to cement relations with the host communities.”
There are several solutions to check rising cases of Nigerians being killed in South Africa. There has to be more sensitisation and awareness between Nigerians and South Africans, in particularly hostile communities. And most importantly, Nigerians must stop committing crime. A source said: “It was also alleged that the recent killing of three Nigerians, was actually by Nigerians.
They were cult killings. A cult member killed another, and there was retaliation. It was getting messier.”Speaking on ways to curtail killings of Nigerians, Dabiri-Erewa said: “South Africa should make efforts to arrest the criminals who are giving Nigerians a bad name.”
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