An 88-year-old woman, Mrs Tawakalitu Ilumooka, on Thursday told an Ikeja Special Offences Court how a pastor, Ayodeji Olorunfemi, allegedly defrauded her of N36.5 million.
Ilumooka testified that the pastor took her to a river goddess (Olookun) for fake hard currency.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Olorunfemi is standing trial on a three-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretence and stealing.
He is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
On Thursday, Ilumooka, led in evidence by EFCC counsel, Mr Ahmed Yerima, said that the pastor took her to Olookun on the pretext that the river goddess had blessed her with a box containing dollars and pounds sterling.
The octogenarian testified that the defendant told her that the N36.5 million would be used for spiritual cleansing before the currencies could be spent.
Ilumooka, a former businesswoman on Lagos Island, told the court that she gave birth to nine children and that one of her daughters, Kuburat, and her friend introduced her to the defendant.
“It has been seven years since we have been on this matter.
“Otunba has a big church and he prays for people; so, I spoke with him on the phone and told him I wanted to sell a piece of land at Orile Agege and he could help me pray about it.
“He instructed me to prepare a large bowl of semo with assorted meat and give it to a mad person, which I did and later sold the land for N100 million, after he prayed for me.
“I told him to send his account details in which I transferred N100,000 as a form of appreciation,” she said.
The witness further told the court that his 64-year-old son later called her from America and told her that he was sick and confined in a wheelchair.
She said she called the defendant on phone to pray for his sick son but he told her that she had to travel to Ondo State before her son could be healed.
“I told him Ondo is far that I could not go because I am old, but Otunba insisted that it is the only place they could take care of my sick son, and I told him, ‘It is okay’.
“He told me that one Fakunle Fabunmi and one other person, whose name I cannot remember, would call me.
“I was in bus when they started calling me and when I got to Ondo State, I was taken to Ondo Town,” she said.
The witness said she that did not suspect any foul play because the two men came with an expensive car and the defendant knew them.
She told the court that she was taken to a big house in a bush and was later taken into a room filled with water, adding that a woman, Olookun ( river goddess) came out of the water and promised to give her money but she declined.
“When I entered the room filled with water, a woman came out from the water and they told me it was Olookun (river goddess) and they instructed me to look down to avoid looking at her face.
“They were the one interpreting what Olookun was saying as I could not hear her, and they said Olookun wanted to give me money but I told them that I did not need money. I came because of my son’s health.
“They took me to another room filled with many people that were masked with white clothes. They mentioned my parents’ names to me, and I was terrified.
“They gave me a calabash when I got out, and instructed me to take it home so that my son could recover from illness.”
According to the witness, the men took her back to Lagos and warned her that her house would be razed by fire if she would not return the calabash within seven days.
“I was scared; that made me return the calabash to Ondo Town,” she said.
The witness said that she met the defendant with the two other men when she returned the calabash to Ondo Town and they brought out a port mantle into which hard currencies were flowing into, from the roof of a room.
” Dollars and Pound Sterling were flowing into the port mantle from the roof of the room, and they asked if I wanted money, but I told them, ‘No’.
“The said Olookun wanted to give me money but I told them I did not come because of money.
“They tore my cloth and I was naked and they started snapping my nakedness when I refused to carry the port mantle full of dollars and pound sterling.
“The defendant looked at me and said, ‘You did not know what you came to do here.’
“I replied that I was there because of my son. I told them I wanted to poo but they said I should poo inside a big hole that was dug in the room.”
She told the court that she cried unto God afterwards.
“They said I should take the money and they would follow me to my house.
“They carried the port mantle inside a jeep and drove me down to Lagos from Ondo.
“Fakunle plucked a leaf and and dropped it on the port mantle and said some words into it so that no police would stop them on the way.”
The octogenarian told the court that the men carried the money to her house and put it under her bed.
“They warned that I should not tell anybody,” she added.
The witness further told the court that the defendant and the two men monitored her and later sent their account details in which she paid N36.5 million.
“The first one I paid was N5 million, the second one was N11 million and they later collected N10 million.
“The total money they collected from me is N36.5 million.
“They said they would give me something like a stick with cowries to stir the port mantle.
“My lord, I am 88 years old. Despite all my struggles not to lose my son and the money they collected from me, my son died from the illness in February at the age of 64 years.”
The witness testified that she reported the case to EFCC.
“Otunba was arrested and N1.8 million was recovered from his account. EFCC withdrew the money and gave it to me and took the port mantle,” the witness said.
NAN reports that the witness broke down in tears and her statement dated March 16, 2018 and July 2018 with an obituary of her son were admitted in evidence.
During cross-examination by defence counsel, Mr Bamidele Olayemi, the witness said that she had been relating with the defendant on phone since the time her daughter and her friend connected her with him.
“She also said that she did not see the defendant in person prior to the time they met in Ondo.
NAN reports that the EFCC alleged the defendant with six others still at large fraudulently obtained the sum of N36 million from the octogenarian.
The alleged offences contravene Sections 1(1)(a) and 1(3) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences, 2006, and Sections 287 (1) (2) and 285 (1) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011 .
Justice Mojisola Dada adjourned the case until Sept. 30 for continuation of trial.
Source: News Agency of Nigeria