BY AFEEZ HANAFI
A 54-year-old man, Abayomi Adewunmi, has been arrested by the police for allegedly forging the licence of a Lagos-based firm, Nucleus Ventures Limited, to import four vehicles into Nigeria.
The police alleged that Adewunmi and other suspects at large hacked into the company’s data on the website of the Nigeria Customs Service to process shipping documents, which he used to import the vehicles – two Toyota Prado Jeeps, a Toyota 4runner and a Mercedes Benz GLE.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that Customs discovered the fraudulent act after the vehicles had been cleared, and suspended its import licence.
The agency was said to have subsequently notified the firm, which deals in manufacturing of paper products.
It was learnt that a letter was addressed to the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation to assist in unearthing the particulars of the vehicles.
Following the information provided by the ministry, the case was reported at the Olosan Police Station and Adewunmi was tracked down.
The police alleged that the suspect altered the data of the firm on the website after hacking its username and password.
A police source said, “A representative of the company reported to the police that the Nigeria Customs Service sometime in October 2017 notified it of an unlawful use of its licence to import vehicles by some fraudulent persons who hacked into the company’s data on the agency’s website.
“After a thorough investigation the four vehicles imported via the forged company’s documents were identified. A manhunt was launched for the suspect linked with the vehicles and he was arrested.”
The source, however, said Adewunmi, who is a freight forwarder, denied the crime, but admitted to have imported one of the Prado Jeeps through the help of a Customs officer.
“The suspect said one Gbenga approached him to help procure assessment for payment of Customs duty for a Prado Jeep and that he sent the details of the vehicle to a Customs officer, one Iheanacho, to help generate the assessment.
“He said he was angry when he saw the name of the company on the documents. The suspect could not provide the necessary details for the police to trace the said Iheanacho,” the source added.
Adewunmi was consequently arraigned on Wednesday before an Ogba Magistrate’s Court on seven counts bordering on forgery.
The Police Prosecutor, Inspector Koti Aondohemba, told the court that the offence contravened sections 365(1), 366(1-3), 387, 388 389, 390 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
The charge sheet read in part, “That you, Abayomi Adewunmi, and others at large on October 3, 2017, about 1:55pm, at the Lagos Magisterial District did impersonate Nucleus Ventures Limited and falsely represented yourself as its authorised agent before the Nigeria Customs Service.
“That you and others at large, did unlawfully hack into the computer network and data of Nucleus Ventures Limited within the Nigeria Customs Service website, using its username and password and unlawfully used the identity of the company to obtain and process shipping documents.
“That you and others at large, did unlawfully hack into the computer network and data of Nucleus Ventures Limited within the Nigeria Customs Service website, using its username and password to knowingly input and modify the data of the company to illegally obtain and process shipping documents, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 390 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.”
The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges and elected summary trial.
He was granted bail by the presiding magistrate, Mrs. O.A. Tanimola, in the sum of N100,000 with two sureties in like sum.
The case was adjourned till June 20, 2018 for mention.