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Hotelier arrested for receiving stolen vehicle insists: ‘It was my nephew, not me’

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A hotelier, Paul Niwa, who was nabbed alongside his nephew, Michael Odunayo, by Ogun State Police Command over a vehicle theft, says he has nothing to do with the crime. Niwa also said that the vehicle, a T4 Volkswagen bus with registration number AAB 22 XB, was on a piece of land adjoining his hotel, belonging to his nephew. He claimed that the bus was brought to his nephew and not him, and that it was a mistake that he was picked for the offence.

The suspect, however, admitted that he was into the business of purchasing old vehicles which he used to dismantle into scraps for the purpose of selling the parts until last year when he got into trouble purchasing one such vehicle from one Sir Kay, which was later discovered to have been stolen. He said that it was the same Sir Kay who brought the latest vehicle in question to his nephew.

But his nephew, Michael, who confirmed that the vehicle was brought to him, said that his uncle handed over the business to him when the business got him into trouble last year.

The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Abimbola Oyeyemi, who confirmed the arrest of the duo, said that they were picked up in connection with the stealing of a bus belonging to A&G Logistics Transport Company, Shagamu.

According to SP Oyeyemi, the driver in charge of the stolen vehicle, one Anifowose Kazeem, reported at Ewu-Oliwo divisional headquarters, Shagamu on April 21 that while driving the said vehicle from Abeokuta towards Shagamu at about 1 a.m on the date, the vehicle developed a mechanical fault at Shagamu interchange, which made him to park it by the roadside, with the intention of coming back in the morning with a mechanic to fix it.

He told the police that to his shock, however, he got to the spot at daybreak to discover that the bus had disappeared, and all efforts to find it were unsuccessful.

Upon the report, the Divisional Police Officer of the Division, CSP Toyosi Bello, told detectives to unravel those behind the disappearance of the said vehicle.

The detectives were said to have embarked on technical and intelligence-based investigation which enabled them to trace the missing vehicle to [email protected] Hotel’s premises at Elediye Village, Shagamu. There, the vehicle was found to have been dismantled into scraps to be sold in parts.

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This, the PPRO said, led to the arrest of the hotelier and his nephew. When interrogated, the nephew told the police that he and one Eri Adeyemi, currently at large, towed the vehicle away from where it was parked at about 2 a.m and took it to the hotelier’s premises, as he (hotelier) was a regular buyer of such stolen vehicles. Michael said that he bought it for N300,000.

Preliminary investigation by the police reportedly led to the discovery of the hotelier as a serial receiver of stolen vehicles, which he used to dismantle and sell in pieces.

In an interview with the Nigerian Tribune, Niwa, who hails from Akutupa in Kabba, Kogi State, said that he started living in Ogun State about 15 years ago. He said was initially into car wash business and was running a bar before he got connected and switched to land purchase and sale.

The suspect, aged 47, who claimed to be an Economics graduate and married to three wives, spoke further that he started constructing a hotel to add to his business.

Insisting that the police mistakenly arrested him instead of his nephew, the hotelier said: “I’ve already sold the portion of land where the stolen vehicle was turned into scrap to my nephew, although we have a linking fence. I told the police and they called my nephew to show up to confirm my claim, which he did. He lives with me.”

He went further: “On the day Michael bought the stolen vehicle, I was not around, I had gone to one of my wives. In order to rest, I switched off my phone. At daybreak, when I switched it on, my nephew called and told me that two men called Sir Kay and Aroja came to sell a vehicle to him to be turned to scraps. I asked him if he got the vehicle documents and he replied that Sir Kay said they were with him at home. I told him not to pay until the documents were brought.

“I knew Sir Kay as a rice smuggler, and he used to sell used cars to me whenever he no longer had use of them. However, last year, he sold one to me that put me in trouble with the police, as it was discovered to be a stolen vehicle. He gave me its documents but they were discovered to be fake. The police got to know when they came to me over a petition written against me over sale of land. They found the vehicle being dismantled within my compound and took its picture.

“In an investigation conducted by the police, they discovered the rightful owner, but when Sir Kay was called, he said he was the owner but decided to sell it. He was told to come to the police station but he ran away. That was how I decided that I would no longer engage in the scrap business. I stopped.

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“That was why I was surprised when my nephew told me the same Sir Kay came to sell a vehicle to him. I asked him why he didn’t wait for me to return home before doing anything, and he said Sir Kay was the one who started the dismantling. I exclaimed that my nephew wanted to put me in trouble. I asked if he had collected the vehicle documents from Sir Kay, he said no. I told him to tell Sir Kay that he would not pay for the vehicle except the papers were brought.

“I was going back to my apartment when I met policemen. They told me that a stolen vehicle was tracked to my house. As I was taking them to where Sir Kay and others were, immediately the police saw that the vehicle was being dismantled, one of them said that I should be handcuffed. This made Sir Kay and the other man, Aroja, to escape. I was taken to the police station where I told them that it was not me but my nephew that was involved in the purchase of the vehicle. He was asked to come to the police station which he did, and told them that he was the one who bought the vehicle. He said he had not given Sir Kay any money but they had agreed on N300,000 as selling price.”

The nephew, aged 25, though confirmed that the stolen vehicle was brought to him for sale, said that it was his uncle who asked him to take over buying vehicles that would be turned to scrap, as he was no longer interested in the business.

The nephew told his story thus: “I started living with my uncle last year November after I completed my Ordinary National Diploma course in Computer Science and left my state of origin, Kogi. I was managing his hotel, still undergoing further construction, for him. He had issues over scrap sale from dismantled vehicles last year. Though he didn’t inform me fully when I joined him, he told me he would concentrate on his hotel business while he would put me in charge of the scrap sale.

“No one linked me with Sir Kay. On Friday, April 21, my uncle was not at home. Someone knocked on the house gate at almost 5:30am, and I went to check who it was. The person, whom I later knew as Sir Kay, asked for my uncle and I told him he was not around. The man told me that he brought a vehicle to sell as scraps. I made him to know that my uncle said that he was no longer interested in the business and I was the one put in charge. I asked for the vehicle particulars and the man said there was no problem with them, as they were available but still at home. I tried to call my uncle to intimate him but his line was switched off. I told the man he had to wait till we would get him, but he said there was no problem in starting the dismantling. He brought the vehicle to my portion of the land beside my uncle’s own. He sold (the land) to me for N3 million and I’ve paid over N2 million out of it.

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“When I eventually got my uncle on phone and told him about the vehicle, he told me not to buy it, opening up that the man who brought it was the one who landed him in trouble last year. He was in a fix, wondering what he could do. I told him I had yet to give Sir Kay any money. While discussing with him, Sir Kay asked if he could start dismantling the vehicle and I told him to go ahead, knowing inwardly that I would not pay him until the particulars were brought. The other man left, saying that he was going to bring the documents.

“My brother later arrived in company with police where they met the men dismantling the vehicle. My uncle was  handcuffed and Sir Kay immediately scaled the fence and escaped. I was shocked, wondering why he should run when he said he had documents of the vehicle. That was the mistake I made.”

How I got money to pay for land

“After leaving school in Niger State, I was staying in my home state. The family, involving my siblings, had a land space of seven acres put up for sale. We sold it for N1.2 million per acre, totalling N8.4 million. We are five in number and I was given a share of N2 million as the third child.

“I called my uncle and informed him, and he asked me to come to him to invest the money wisely since I was doing nothing at home. He sold part of his land, almost two plots, to me for N3 million.”

Nigerian Tribune learnt that the suspect at large has switched off his phone since his escape.

The state Commissioner of Police, Olanrewaju Yomi Oladimeji, has ordered the immediate transfer of the suspects to the State Criminal Investigation Department for further investigation.




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