An inmate said to be on death row at the Ibara Correctional Centre in Ogun State, Femi Oso, has been accused of using a romance scam to defraud a yet-to-be-identified lady of N17m in the state.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Oso and the victim got connected on Facebook and after chatting with each other for a while, they commenced a relationship.
During the relationship, it was learnt that Oso's lover, through a Point-of-Sale operator identified simply as Ayoola, paid him money in tranches amounting to N17m.
Along the line, the victim, while assessing her relationship with Oso who reportedly never disclosed his status as an inmate to her, started suspecting foul play and later shared her experience with her yet-to-be-identified sister.
The victim's sister, thereafter, involved her husband, a serving policeman attached to the Ondo State Police Command, who, on the suspicion of a romance scam, reported the case to the command's Anti-Kidnapping Unit for investigation.
The policemen trailed the PoS operator to Ibara, Ogun State, arrested him and took him to their operational base in Akure, Ondo State, for interrogation.
It was learnt that during interrogation, Ayoola confessed that the money was for Oso, and mentioned two persons, a school cleaner, Nofisat Adeosun, and Oso's brother-in-law identified simply as Segun, as people who usually collected money from him on the instruction of the inmate.
Narrating her ordeal on Monday, Adeosun said she was at work when the policemen stormed the premises on February 8, 2023, to arrest her, adding that she was also taken to their base in Akure.
She said, “When the policemen arrested me at my workplace at Ibara Baptist Nursery and Primary School, I asked what my offence was and I was told that they will tell me when we get to their base in Akure.
“When we got there, they told me I was arrested because of N17m fraud committed by an inmate of Ibara Correctional Centre, Femi Oso. I was told the money was paid to Oso through a PoS operator, Ayoola.
“The police had arrested Ayoola and arrested me on the allegation that I knew about the fraud and I said I knew nothing about it. When I asked Ayoola at the station why he mentioned my name, especially when I am not aware of the money, he started pleading.”
The mother of two said she spent about 10 days before she was allowed to call a family friend, Oluwafemi Adekunle, who alongside his relative, Jide Ikumapayi, came to secure her bail.
She, however, explained that the school where she was working as a cleaner terminated her appointment following the arrest.
Speaking on the case, Ikumapayi, while describing Adeosun's arrest as an unfortunate experience, said the investigation proved that she had no link to the crime.
He added that Ayoola, alongside Oso's brother-in-law, Segun, who on behalf of his in-law, reportedly collected the N17m from the PoS operator for onward delivery to his sister who was said to still be at large, was also arrested.
He said, “When one of our family members was an inmate at Ibara Correctional Centre, if we want to send him money, we usually sent it to the PoS operator and because the school where Adeosun works is closer to the prison, she usually assisted us in getting the money from the PoS operator to our person in prison.
“That our person and Femi Oso were inmates. After our person completed his term in prison, he left. But because Oso, who is an inmate on death row, was aware that Adeosun usually assisted our person in collecting money from the PoS operator, he pleaded with her to assist him and occasionally she assisted whenever his family sent him money.
“So, when Ayoola, who runs the PoS shop close to the prison was arrested for the N17m fraud, he said he got to know Oso through Adeosun but refused to disclose that Adeosun knew nothing about the N17m.
When we got to the police at Akure, Ayoola said it was Segun that collected the N17m from him and not Adeosun and that was how she was released on bail.”
Ikumapayi said an investigation was also extended to the Ibara Correctional Centre to bring in Oso for questioning, adding that he was not released because of his status as an inmate on death row.
He, however, said efforts were on to arrest Oso's wife, who went into hiding after realising that the police were on her trail.
Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Ondo State Command, Funmi Odunlami, while confirming the development, said an investigation into the case was still ongoing.
“When I spoke with the officer in charge of the case, he said the case was ongoing and won't say anything about it until they are through. He said he wants to finish the case so that those that needed to be paraded would be paraded,” Odulami said.
Contacted on Monday, the spokesperson for the Nigeria Correctional Service in Ogun State, Victor Oyeleke, after getting a brief of the development from our correspondent, promised to make some findings and get back for a reaction but did not do so.
He refused to take follow-up calls made to his phone number on Tuesday and had yet to reply to two text messages requesting a reaction regarding the case.
However, this is not the first time the NCS will be in the news concerning cases of inmates masterminding fraudulent transactions while serving their term in the custody of the service.
Sometime in November 2019, PUNCH Metro reported that the spokesperson for the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement, confirmed that a convicted Internet fraudster, Hope Aroke, who was then serving a 24-year jail term in the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Centre in Lagos State, allegedly masterminded a $1m scam while in custody.