NAN The Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on Wednesday said it had trained 2,337 Nigerians as seafarers to enhance the performance of the maritime industry. Dr Dakuku Peterside, the Director-General of NIMASA, said the aim was to empower them with the sea time experience required by the industry players before engaging them in…
By Chioma Igbokwe
Detectives attached to Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Ikoyi have arrested an estate agent identified as Najeendeen Tunde Maleek for fraud.
Maleek allegedly swindled over 100 prospective tenants of over N40 million being payment for some locks of flats located at No 1 Bankole Street, off Adigun Street, Itire, Ijesha, Lagos.
The suspect, who described himself as chief executive officer of Deen Property Consultant, placed an advert as regards a vacant two-storey building at No 1, Bankole Street, off Adigun Street, Itire, Ijesha, Lagos.
He allegedly convinced prospective tenants that he was the owner of the property and had evicted former tenants in order to renovate the rooms to a modern standard. Prospective tenants, who were impressed after a visit to the said property where they observed that there was actual renovation going on, quickly made payment for fear of losing the opportunity. Maleek was alleged to have told most of them that the apartments would be ready before the end of September.
His victims got the shock of their lives when they gathered in front of the house on September 29 to pick up their keys as agreed by Maleek and met a crowd. Almost everyone at the scene claimed that they paid a certain amount of money for a two-bedroom flat or a one-room self-contained apartment.
On realizing that they might have been defrauded, his victims tried to secure any available space in the building. It took the timely intervention of policemen from Itire Police Station to calm the angry crowd and lock up the building pending when the issue will be resolved.
When Daily Sun visited the scene, policemen were still seen guarding the building to avoid a forceful break-in that could lead to chaos.
A police source told the reporter that Maleek was picked up by SFU operatives over another case of fraud. The complainant, who knew some of the other victims, alerted the others.
Before his arrest, Daily Sun gathered that most of the victims had lost hope in the police as they were told that the suspect was close to some senior officers at the Itire Police Station. The victims, it was gathered, alleged that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) was more interested in protecting the property than investigating the allegation.
Some of the victims, who spoke with the reporter, said they decided to seek alternative help when all efforts to get the police to do their job failed. They transferred the matter to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti and also alerted the traditional ruler of Itire.
Fortunately, detectives at SFU picked up the suspect over another fraud case.
Some of the victims lamented that they never believed that such could happen to them as everything about the transaction looked real.
Emmanuel Adeboye, a victim, told the reporter: “I saw the advert and called the number of the developer who told me that he was also the owner of the property. I visited the house and saw Maleek who took me round and assured me that the house was being renovated, and that it would be ready by the end of the month.
“The man looked responsible and since it was not a third-party transaction, I assumed that he was real. He gave me a Zenith bank account to pay in N180, 000, which was the agreed amount for a room. The account name is Maleek Tunde Najeemdeem and account number is 2007070910. He issued a receipt and asked me to come for my key on September 30. I was shocked when I saw the crowd, with everyone claiming that they also paid for the same flat.
“We are happy that the police arrested him, and they have assured us that they will help us recover our money.”
On how he got into the trap, another victim, Emmanuel Ogbaje said he got in touch with an agent named Mr. Akane who directed him to Maleek.
“I met Maleek and he showed me the available single rooms on the top floor. He told me that he was renovating the property but that I should pay N180, 000 to secure the one I wanted. I made a part payment on August and was issued a receipt. I was told to come for my key on October 2nd. I was shocked when my friend who also paid for a room there called me on September 29 to rush down to the house, that a lot of people were there. When I got there, I was told that some touts gave keys to a selected few. There was chaos and some of us knew that it could lead to disaster, so we reported to the police at Itire and also informed the traditional ruler of Itire. Luckily, policemen from SFU arrested him over another matter. Most of us have gone to write our statements over there. “
Nwaneri Odimegwu is yet another victim. He told the reporter that he paid N300, 000 for a two-bedroom apartment. “I visited the house for inspection and one engineer, Wale was the one that took us to the apartment which they said was still vacant. I loved the house, so the next day, I paid N300, 000. We believed him because he claimed to be the landlord.”
Ebuka Obi said he saw a poster of an agent at Lawanson Road, Zamba Bus Stop, and after making enquiries, he was directed to No. 1 Bankole Street where he paid 280, 000 for a mini flat on the last floor.
Okpara Kenneth said he parted with N400, 000 with the hope that on September 30, he would collect his key and move into a well renovated two-bedroom flat.
“I have an accommodation problem, so an agent gave me Maleek’s number. I called him and he invited me over to the house. After inspection, we agreed that I would pay N400, 000 for a two bedroom flat.
“He asked me to come for the key on September 30 as he was renovating the flat. I was shocked when I met a lot of persons scrambling for the same apartment.”
All efforts to reach the SFU spokesman failed as he was said to have travelled out of the country on an official assignment.
However a senior officer who spoke on the condition that his name should not be mentioned assured that the department had started taking down the statements of all the victims that have been besieging the office after Maleek’s arrest.