By Richard Thomas
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibadan Zonal Office has arrested three persons, Babatunde Ologunja, Olusola Olaoye Babatunde and Olufemi Lawal – for allegedly duping the Otun-Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun.
The suspects and others still at large were accused of conspiring to dispossess the revered Ibadan High Chief of sums running to about N300million.
Balogun, who is next to the Olubadan in the Olubadan-In-Council hierarchy, was a Senator representing Oyo South Senatorial District under the platform of the Alliance for Democracy between 1999 and 2003.
His younger brother, Dr. Kola Balogun, who currently sits in his former position in Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber, had written an emotional petition to the EFCC as ‘a ‘concerned member of the Aliwo Family’, seeking the Commission’s intervention in smashing the syndicate and ensuring that members of the gang are made to pay for their alleged crime.
The younger Balogun feared that the High Chief may have been charmed by the suspected fraudsters as he was still unable to come to terms with the reality of his situation.
“This request became necessary because we believe strongly that the victim has been hypnotized; he is not in a position to admit it and his health condition is deteriorating,” the Senator stated in the petition.
Preliminary investigations into the allegations revealed that for the past four years, the suspects have consistently collected various sums of money from the High Chief.
The sums, according to findings, were not attached to any particular projects and no receipts were issued to indicate the existence of any genuine transactions between the parties.
At the time of their arrest, the syndicate had received about N300 million through bank transfers from the Ibadan High Chief.
The Commission has designated for possible forfeiture four vehicles and six landed properties traced to their alleged fraudulent activities.
The EFCC is still on the trail of the syndicate’s fugitive partners, as further investigations are underway.