A prosecution witness has narrated how Bolarinwa Abiodun, a self-professed Army General, posing as the son of former President Olusegun Obasanjo defrauded him of almost N300 million.
Bolarinwa, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a 13-count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, forgery of documents, and possession of documents containing false pretence, is standing trial before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of a Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos.
The court had on 25th April 2022 refused his bail application on the grounds that the prosecution was able to show that he was a flight risk.
He was first arraigned on 11th April 2022 and he pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges.
One of the counts reads: “Bolarinwa Oluwasegun Abiodun, between 15th June 2020 and 31st December 2020 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and whilst holding yourself out as a General in the Nigerian Army, obtained the sum of N111,400,000 from Kodef Clearing Resources Limited, under the pretence that the sum represented part of the amount expended to “press and process” your incoming appointment by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, as the CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF of the Nigerian Army, which pretence you knew to be false.”
Another count reads: “Bolarinwa Oluwasegun Abiodun, sometime in May 2020 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly forged LETTER OF APPOINTMENT AS CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF dated 20th May 2020 and purported the said document to have emanated from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which document you know to be false.”
Testifying as the first prosecution witness, Bamidele Olusegun Safiriyu, the victim, who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, narrated how the defendant defrauded him in a well-calculated fraud scheme to the tune of Two Hundred and Sixty-Six Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira ( N266,500,000.00) only.
Describing himself as a businessman who deals in “clearing and forwarding”, he said he registered two companies, Kodef Clearing Resources Limited in April 2008 and De-Rock Maritime Resource in July 2013 both for “clearing purposes”.
The witness identified the defendant in the dock and narrated how their paths crossed leading to him being defrauded by the defendant who claimed to be an Army General and laid claim to former President Olusegun Obasanjo being his father.
He told the court that on a Friday, sometime in April 2017, one of his trucks that he loaded going to a customer’s cold room, hit the defendant’s Honda Accord.
He said: “He detained the truck because he moves in a convoy of soldiers.
“On Saturday, the following day, I got a call from my client that some soldiers have hijacked the container.
“I became troubled because it has never happened before, and that Saturday, I was to travel out, and so I was just praying because I didn’t know what to do.”
He told the court that some of those working with him, including his younger brother, had to step in to see what they could do.
He said: “Later in the day, I received a call from this young man, and he introduced himself as General Abiodun Bolarinwa, a General in the Nigerian Army and a son of Baba Olusegun Obasanjo, former President.
“He told me in that conversation that my truck was with him that the truck bashed his car, and his boys brought it to where he stays at Abule-Egba.
“Later my team also met with him and they got the issue resolved after spending about N200,000.”
However, Bolarinwa continued afterwards to communicate with Safiriyu, who even saved his phone number as “General Bolarinwa”.
According to the witness, the defendant once came to his office in a convoy of military personnel with a banner of former President Obasanjo adorning one of the vehicles.
He said: “He came with a convoy and they were shooting in the air and everywhere was scattered.
“Later he sent me a message that he is going to be made the military assistant to the president at Aso Rock.
“He sent me the letter and he said he would need some assistance, claiming that in the Army you are going to provide everything you need.
“Later he said he was vying for the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), that he has been nominated by the President and that he needs money to press and process the appointment.
“I was reluctant at first and started asking myself the question if he wants to become Army Chief and he claims to be Baba Obasanjo’s son, as a former president will he not just need a call from him to press anything.
“So I asked him, you said you’re Baba’s son, why can’t he take care of this.
“He replied and said you know that Baba doesn’t want to do that, because of the polygamous home and so he doesn’t want to be seen as the one financing him.”
“In 2013, a message came into my phone saying ‘I, President Obasanjo’. Then a few minutes later, he called me and said ‘Baba has been trying to reach you, but that I was not picking up his call.
“I checked my phone, I saw only a text, no missed call, and I told him; he said that Obasanjo has been trying to reach me to thank me for all I have been doing for him.
“Then later a number called me and it showed the name ‘Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR’ As the caller, and I picked up the call, it was exactly Baba’s voice and he said to me to help my brother financially to become COAS that he will repay me.
“So I said, ok, sir; and that was how at various times he kept requesting money.
“He said he needed money to travel to go and meet Emirs to make his intention known, that he has been nominated to become the next COAS.
“Any time he needs money, he will use the number, sometimes he asks for N5million, N6million.”
“I did not know that he was not even in the Army and never even passed through the Army, this I got to know much later.”
He told the court that the defendant posing as Obasanjo’s son even invited him to Obasanjo’s birthday in 2020.
According to the witness, he was able to later get an audience with Obasanjo who denied that the defendant was his son.
Thereafter, he petitioned the EFCC, when he realised belatedly that he had been duped of almost N300 million.
The prosecution thereafter tendered in evidence the petition along with several attachments, including letters, confirmation letters and several photos sent to him by the defendant to deceive and defraud him.
The bundle of documents were admitted in evidence as Exhibit A.
The victim also took time in open court to itemise all the various money transfers he sent to the defendant, as well as several correspondences between the two of them.
Subsequently, the prosecution tendered the mobile phone of the witness in evidence, and it was admitted in evidence as Exhibit B.
The case has been adjourned till 29th April 2022 for cross-examination.