Alhaji Afeez Uthmanis, a 43-year-old cleric, has been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command for charming his US-based friend to collect N105 million from the latter by false presence.
Parading the suspect before newsmen on Monday, Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone-2, Ali Mohammed, said the cleric also charmed his friend’s wife and three children and took them over as his own.
Mohammed said the cleric’s wife assisted her husband in the escapade.
Mohammed said aside from the money and the friend’s family, the cleric and his wife also took over five vehicles and landed property belonging to the U.S.-based friend.
He told newsmen that the suspect confessed to using spiritual means to take over his friend’s family, more than N105 million, and several landed properties in Lagos.
He said the cleric admitted to having bewitched the friend into changing his children’s names and land documents into his.
Mohammed said a complaint was lodged with the police on July 17, 2023, leading to the arrest of the cleric and his wife.
He added that other accomplices of the cleric and his wife were currently at large, but that five people had been arrested over the crime.
“The suspect abducted the petitioner’s wife and children for more than 10 years and subsequently changed their names to his with the help of his wife.
“He converted all the petitioner’s properties to his own, claiming that God directed him to do so. It was God that opened the petitioner’s eyes 10 years later when he realised what he was doing and returned to Nigeria to file his petition,’’ Mohammed said.
He added that the cleric’s wife confessed to the alteration of the birth documents of the complainant’s children to bear the cleric’s name.
He said that the cleric’s wife also admitted to having received more than 17,000 dollars (about N11.8 million) from the complainant.
“Investigation showed that the suspect met the complainant at a religious place in Lagos, after which they became friends.
“The complainant is based in the USA and became close to the suspect about 16 years ago. While they were friends, the complainant started to send the suspect money to execute a project.
“Instead, the suspect converted the complainant’s entire savings amounting to more than N105 million to his own,’’ Mohammed said.