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MOTHER LUCK: Car dealer escapes death trap laid by customer

By Adelowo Oladipo

Alhaji Abdul Ganiyu Kolade

BUT for divine intervention and some elements of good luck, a Lagos-based auto mechanic and motor dealer, Alhaji Abdul Ganiyu Kolade, would have been killed like a common criminal by some officers and men of the Kaduna State police command late last year.

According to Midweek Tribune investigation, the journey of the 36-year-old man who has dual citizenship of Nigeria and Senegal, into the the world beyond would have been caused by what appeared initially as a mere business transaction.

Midweek Tribune gathered that Alhaji Kolade whose father is from Ibadan, and his mother, a Senegalese, had on Thursday, August 26, 2005 been approached by one Alhaji Ado, a middle-aged man who brought business to him and a stranger called Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed who offered to buy four Jeeps from him at his workshop.

The transaction according to Midweek Tribune findings took place in his office at No 1-5 Jimade close, off Matori Street, Ladipo, Papa-Ajao, Mushin, Lagos. In a chat with the Midweek Tribune, the complainant who had since intimated the Inspector General of police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, about his close shave with death, told his story thus:

On the 26th of August, 2005, one Alhaji Ado who resides in Agege and a man brought one Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed who sells cars in Kaduna to me with the purpose of patronising me. The said Alhaji Shuaibu saw four Jeeps in my office which included one Honda CRV, two RAV 4 Jeeps and Harrier Jeep and he offered to buy all the cars. We now agreed on N7.5 million as the price of the cars because they were all fairly used.

Out of the said amount, he deposited almost immediately a sum of N4.180 million but with a condition that I must deliver the cars to him in his showroom in Kaduna State, promising to offset all the expenses which I would incure in the process of bringing the cars to Kaduna.

I asked him why he was attaching that condition when he could easily make arrangements to take the cars to his base, he responded by saying that whenever he brought cars to his customers, there were always complaints about the seizure of those cars by the officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service on the road while in transit by the respective drivers who helped to drive the cars to their owners.

I therefore assured him that we were not likely to be faced with such a problem since all our vehicles have genuine documents that were got when importing them into the country and the prompt payment of the customs duty on the cars. I however told him that if he was ready to pay our charges, we would deliver the cars to him at his own risk, just as I asked him how the remaining balance of N3.120 million would be paid.

He said as soon as I delivered the four cars to him in Kaduna, he would pay me the balance of N3.120 million. But at the time the negotiation were going on between us, Alhaji Ado had gone back to his place at Ikeja Airport where he works. I called him on his GSM handset if he could vouch for the new customer he had just brought to me and he said there would be no problem if I agree to the terms of agreement with Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed.

To start with, I first took two cars to Kaduna and delivered them to him and later came back to Lagos to take the remaining two RAV 4 cars with the purpose of delivering them to him in Kaduna also. Unfortunately, while on my way back to Kaduna, one of the RAV 4 cars developed mechanical fault . When he did not see me at the appointed time, Alhaji Shuaibu called me on the telephone and I explained to him that the mechanical fault on the car could not be rectified on the road except if I tried to take it back to Lagos, for repairs and he agreed I should do exactly as I told him.

However, before I got back to Lagos, Alhaji Shuaibu had called my elder sister and informed her that he wanted to buy my Lexus Jeep LX470 in addition to the four Jeeps he had bought from me. My sister, Ms Nafisatu Kolade, did not hesitate to tell him that he should pay a sum of N5 million for the Lexus Jeep but she said Alhaji Shuaibu offered to pay N4.5 million. And on my arrival in Lagos when my sister informed me about the latest development, I called Alhaji Shuaibu and he confirmed the story.

He said as soon as I finished the rectification of the problem on the faulty RAV4 Jeep, I should quickly come with the three cars to Kaduna so that he could pay me off immediately. When I thought of the magnitude of the amount involved and I was doubtful if Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed could afford to pay me such. I called him and told him that the money was too much, considering the total sum which he had to pay me on my arrival at Kaduna.

During our conversation on the telephone, he assured me he would pay me if I deliver the vehicles. Then I proceeded to Kaduna with the cars and delivered the cars to him on my arrival at Kaduna in the company of those who assisted me to drive the Jeeps to Kaduna. After we delivered the cars to him, Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed gave me N80,000 to give my escorts so that they could return to Lagos. He thereafter asked one of his boys, named Shuaibu Junior to take me to an hotel called White Hotel so that I could lodge there.

When we got to the hotel, to my surprise, he did not pay for my hotel accommodation and he did not instruct the said Shuaibu Junior to do so on his behalf. The following day, the boy, Shuaibu Junior came and took me to their office which is situated at N0 J.S.34 Junction Road, Kaduna South from my hotel room. In his office, Alhaji Shuaibu told me that he had some financial constraints adding that he had approached a branch of All States Trust Bank, Kaduna for credit facility and that the request was turned down because the management of the bank had allegedly decided not to grant credit facility to the bank customers that period.

He then pleaded with me to bear with him and wait for the next two weeks to collect the money he owed me. According to Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed, there were people who owed him and who could not pay just as he also informed me that he had sold the CRV Honda car as he promised to pay me off, so that I could go back to Lagos whenever he gets the money.

I reasoned with him, but I demanded my hotel accommodation fee from him, to which he said he had no money. Alhaji Mohammed advised that I should pay the bill and keep all the receipts so that he could make necessary refunds later. I was brought back to the hotel in the night of that fateful day by Alhaji Shuaibu Junior, but in the midnight, I couldn’t sleep till day break. The following morning, I went to meet Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed in his office and demanded that he should give me one of the Jeeps, particularly, my Lexus LX470 so that I could go and park it in my hotel with a condition that if he pays me for the vehicle with the earlier agreed price, I would hand over the Lexus Jeep 470 to him.

I stated further that when I got to the hotel, I would keep the car keys with the hotel manager. He disagreed with the arrangement while I bluntly told him that I would not allow him to keep my Jeep in his showroom unless he paid for it. We later reached an agreement on the matter and the Lexus Jeep was given to me as myself and Alhaji Shuaibu Junior both drove in the car to the hotel. After parking the car in the hotel’s premises, I handed over the car keys to the hotel manager as promised in the presence of Alhaji Shuaibu Junior.

From then on, I remained in the hotel for the next two weeks. But surprisingly, the very day Alhaji Mohammed was to pay me for the cars, he refused to show up and he did not phone me as well. I called him persistently from 8:am till 4:pm, in his conversation with me on the telephone, he said he was arranging the money. But at exactly 5 p.m, about eight (8) policemen came to my hotel in a police van. Four of the policemen came to my room and banged my door repeatedly. I quickly opened the door for them and I asked what I could do for them.

They chorused that they were in the hotel to search my room and I demanded that on what account did they want to do that. But they replied almost immediately that I was a suspect. They did not even have the courtesy of allowing me to change my dress. After the search that lasted for about thirty minutes, which yielded nothing as no incriminating thing was found either on me or inside my room, they brought me downstairs and ordered that I should follow them to Kaduna State Criminal Investigating Department (SCID) Kaduna.

The policemen saw the Lexus Jeep at the car park and they requested that they would take the Jeep along with them. An argument ensued because they handled me roughly. Later some curious people around were attracted to the scene because of the humiliation to which I was subjected to by the policemen. When it was confirmed that they were policemen from the state police headquarters, I asked the hotel’s receptionist to write down their names. The policemen took the Lexus Jeep to the state CID, Kaduna while I was also arrested and dragged to their office.

When we reached there, one Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Danbala, attached to Kaduna State CID anti-robbery squad asked me who owned the car and I replied that I was. The DSP asked for the original documents and I told him that the original documents were in Lagos and that if he insisted on seeing them, I said I would ask my elder sister to bring the papers to Kaduna the following day is the first flight from Lagos.

Later, Alhaji Shuaibu Junior, came into the matter after I had called my customer, Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed that I had been arrested by the police. But he refused to come and rather sent his younger brother, Shuaibu Junior who tried to mediate between DSP Danbala and myself. The DSP tried as much as he could to intimidate me but I didn’t succumb as a bonafide Nigerian even though my mother is a Senegalese who resides with my Nigerian father from Ibadan, in Senegal.

Thereafter I left the room for Alhaji Shuaibu Junior and DSP Danbala to have some private discussions. But Alhaji Shuaibu Junior was the first to come out of the office and he informed me that DSP Danbala said I should give him N500,000 as bribe so that he could let go of me. I demanded for the rationale behind such bribe since I had a genuine case and that I am not an armed robber, nor had been found wanting in my conduct since I decided to put up at the White Hotel, Kaduna.

I was visibly annoyed and I declared that I did not have such an amount to give out to anybody for that matter. Consequently, I called DSP Bawa of the Trinity police station, Lagos informed him about my plight, and he advised that I should not yield to their pressure, just as he asked me to give the telephone to DSP Danbala so that he could talk to him on my behalf and for an amicable resolution of the matter.

The two policemen spoke and after their conversation, DSP Danbala asked that I should give him N50,000 and I said that the only amount I had was N20,000, after which I gave him the N20,000 and I told him that was the only money I had with me. The following day, I brought the original documents but they said they would not release the car unless I give them the balance of N30,000 as bribe.

I begged DSP Danbala that he should hold the original documents until when Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed would pay me the money for my Jeeps which I sold to him on credit. “With this arrangement, the police boss released the car to me and I drove the Lexus Jeep to Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed office and parked it. I left for my hotel where I stayed for two days because I was ashamed to come out of my hotel room due to the embarrassment I suffered in the hands of the Kaduna policemen.

My telephone rang at about 5:30 pm later that day from one of my customers, based in Sokoto State and he asked me what I was doing in Sokoto and why I had refused to check him since I came to town in the ancient city of Sokoto. I told him I was not in Sokoto, but that I was in Kaduna. He said he saw my black Jeep in Sokoto in a customs officer’s house. As soon as the caller dropped the phone, I took a motobike to Alhaji Shuaibu’s office and I found out that my Lexus Jeep was not there and none of his workers nor himself was in the office.

Thereafter, I called Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed on his GSM handset but there was no response because he had switched it off. Throughout the night, I couldn’t sleep because I was lost in my thought. The following day, I went back to Alhaji Mohammed’s office and met my Jeep and Alhaji Shuaibu Junior in the office. When I inspected the car, I discovered that one of the trafficators was broken. When I asked him what happened to my car, the young man denied using the car, but he later owned up and said “he travelled to Sokoto with my Jeep.

The third day, when I went back to the office, Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed was yet to return to the office and on getting to my hotel room, I called him and related everything that transpired between myself and his younger brother to him but he pleaded with me not to be annoyed with him. I informed him that I was prepared to leave the following day in the morning and as early as possible with my Jeep parked in his office. When I got to Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed’s office to collect my car, I met DSP Danbala, discussing with him.

I demanded that my original documents in the possession of the police officer be given to me. But I was taken aback when they both chorused that it was not necessary. Rather, the businessman advised that I should leave the documents with them and the Jeep. He said if he sells the Jeep, he would remit the money into my bank’s account. But DSP Danbala said except I paid him the N30,000 balance, he was not going to release the vehicle’s original documents to me. He said he would not release it to me unless I pay him the N30,000 balance. Up till now, DSP Danbala is still with my original vehicle particulars.

Despite the fact that he didn’t give me the documents, I drove the Jeep out of Alhaji Shuaibu Mohammed’s office and headed towards a petrol station to fuel the Jeep. But on my way, I stopped over at a Michelin Company to check my wheel alignment. Thereafter, I entered into a supermarket and bought one bottle of Eva water, two sachets of fruit juice. But as soon as I came out of the supermarket, some group of men, about six in number, emerged from a Gulf car.

Four of them surrounded me with guns asked me who owned the car. I responded by saying it was my car, they asked me to follow them to a filling station. But as soon as I entered the car, one of gunmen hit me with the butt of the gun and dragged me into the back of the Jeep. I now realised that they were armed robbers and I made up my mind not to speak English Language and switched to French language. The armed robbers drove me to Banawa area of Kaduna near a Celestial Church of Christ.

During our conversation, I asked her to tell DSP Bawa to help me get in touch with the Kaduna State anti-robbery squad. Then the armed robbers started asking me if I am a Senegalese and I said yes. They said I should cooperate and immediately, they started discussing with each other. Two of the armed robbers were Igbo because I understand Igbo language. The others were speaking English language and I heard them saying that the amount of money they were given by those who sent them after me to collect my Jeep was too much.

They later collected my GSM handset from me and put it in their pocket. The armed robbers took me to Banawa, at the Celestial Church’s prayer ground and ordered me to kneel down as one of them pointed his gun at my head, ready to shoot me point blank. The robber pressed the trigger of the gun but it couldn’t shoot. One of the robbery gang members whom I presumed to be their leader called on another member and taught him how to operate the gun. Then the junior member called the leader by his name and asked him a particular question when he too couldn’t shoot at me.

The leader got angry with him for disclosing his name, he collected the gun and cocked the gun, when I saw them arguing with themselves endlessly, I picked up the courage and ran into a nearby bush in the area. They got angry with me and they opened fire on the bush at random but fortunately, none of their bullets came my direction and I remained untouched as I laid down on the ground. After the robbers had fled the scene, I ran to the main road, and took a bike to the hotel. When I got to the hotel, I met the anti-robbery policemen from Kaduna State police command who received a distress call from DSP Bawa of the Lagos State police command that some armed robbers had robbed me of my Lexus Jeep LX 470. They requested to visit the scene of the crime and I led them to the place where they saw bullet holes and the expelled shells of ammunition.

The matter is now being investigated by the Lagos State zonal command of the Nigeria Police Force, following a protest letter by Alhaji Ganiyu Kolade to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero shortly, after the incident.

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