The younger brother of the Governor of Bayelsa State, Oruaze Dickson, has been linked to the arrest and detention of a Lagos trader, John Babundo, for failing to deliver 69 bags of rice he (Dickson) contracted him to buy from Cotonou, Benin Republic.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Dickson had paid the Delta State indigene over N1m to buy the rice sometime in September 2016.
Babundo was said to have contacted some dealers in Badagry, Lagos State, who promised to deliver the rice at the price of N952,500, including the cost of transporting the goods to Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
He allegedly paid into the bank account of the men, only to discover that they were fraudsters.
The case was said to have been reported to policemen at the Federal Special Anti- Robbery Squad, Adeniji Adele, Lagos State.
Babundo, when contacted by our correspondent, lamented that despite spending over N600,000 on investigation into the matter, he was still under intense pressure from Dickson, who allegedly caused policemen from Bayelsa State to arrest him.
He explained that Dickson turned down his offer to repay the money by instalments, adding that he was put in detention for over two weeks.
He said, “I am a Lagos-based trader. I am also the Managing Director of JC Chemical and Marketing Limited. Sometime in May 2016, a friend of mine, who is a cousin to Aze (Dickson), introduced me to the family. Aze’s wife then asked if I could supply them rice and I said yes.
“I was contracted to supply rice to the tune of 69 bags at the rate of N13,200 per bag, which included transport cost. On September 14, 2016, I was paid N1,010,800 through a foods company owned by Aze.
“To source the rice, my brother, Francis, introduced me to one Hajiya Yusuf Ongwa, a trader in Mile 2. The woman took me to one Mr. Faleye Alaba, a purported rice dealer based in Owode Apa, Badagry.
“The man took me to a warehouse and showed me the rice. We negotiated and agreed at N12,500 per bag. I was asked to pay N90,000 for the transport to Yenagoa.”
He explained that he paid N952,500 into an account number provided by Alaba, adding that he got Alaba’s phone number and that of one Kunle, who was to drive the truck with the rice to Yenagoa.
Babundo said he was surprised when he learnt that the rice was not delivered, adding that he also discovered that the two numbers were no longer reachable.
He said, “On visiting the warehouse at Owode Apa, I and the people that went with me were almost lynched when I said we paid someone money for some bags of rice. It became clear to us that the warehouse was used by Alaba and his cohorts, in collaboration with a brother to the owner of the warehouse, to defraud us.
“I reported the case to the Federal SARS and the woman that took me there, Hajiya Ongwa, was arrested. I fully briefed Aze (Dickson) of the development. I was, however, surprised when some policemen from Bayelsa came to arrest me. I was taken to Yenagoa, where I was detained for two weeks.
“I begged that I would pay back the money by instalments after depositing N200,000, but he insisted that he wanted the rice or the N1m refunded at once.”
Babundo explained that he was later granted bail, adding that the Bayelsa policemen had, since then, been making life difficult for him.
He explained that they had been calling him, making threats and summoning him to Bayelsa State at will to “provide information that would aid police investigation.”
Dickson, however, declined to state his own side of the issue, saying it was a private matter.
He said, “I don’t think it is everything that relates to somebody that is related to the governor that should be written about. There are hundreds of cases in the court, so why did you choose to show interest in this one? Is it because the governor’s brother is involved? It is unnecessary. There are many stories for you to write. I don’t entertain journalists who think because my brother is a governor I don’t have a life to live.”
The Bayelsa State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Butswat Asinim, confirmed the case.
He said, “I have been informed that the matter has been charged to court. I don’t know anything more than that on the case.”
The Force Spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, said he had yet to be briefed by officers at the Federal SARS in Lagos.
“I will get in touch after speaking with them,” he said.
He had, however, yet to get in touch with our correspondent as of the time of filing this report.