A Lagos businessman accused of N75m fraud dies during Covid19 test

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A businessman, Godwin Julius, who was being investigated for alleged involvement in a N75m fraud, has died while being tested for COVID-19 at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, Lagos State.

Godwin and one Obinale Osunwoke were arrested in the Ejigbo area of the state and were detained after the police reportedly traced some of the money to an account belonging to the late businessman

It was gathered that the policemen acted on a petition by the representative of a United States of America-based company, Terraroad’s International Incorporation, Wisdom Chris, that the firm had been swindled out of N75m.

Wisdom said that the suspects and others currently at large impersonated the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and defrauded the firm of $200,000 with forged documents.

He said, “Some of the suspects are still at large. My company in the US got a law firm to write a petition and the only thing I know about the case is that the suspects claimed to be the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, and certain things transpired between my company and them, and the firm, was defrauded of $200,000.

“But when we went to verify the documents, we realised that they were fake. The suspects later confessed that they were fraudsters and wrote an email to that effect. Initially, we got a law firm to investigate the matter, but when they were not forthcoming, the case was reported to the police.”

While the investigation was ongoing, the police approached the court to obtain a remand order for Godwin and Osunwoke.

However, Godwin reportedly took ill during investigation and was taken to the Police Hospital in Falomo, where a doctor advised that he should be taken to the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, for a COVID-19 test.

Osunwoke, who alleged that the police ignored several pleas to grant them bail, said when Godwin’s health deteriorated, they took him to the hospital for the COVID-19 test, but he died in the process.

He said, “One Charles said he needed a domiciliary account and when I asked why, he told me he had some business he was doing overseas. I told Godwin and he called Charles to confirm before his account was used.

“They are saying over N72m, but what was paid into Godwin’s account was $22,000, and out of that amount, we took 20 per cent and Charles was to take 80 per cent. So, when we were arrested, the police refused to grant us bail despite our lawyer and families pleading with them to grant us bail.

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“The police took us to court to get an order for us to remain in their custody, but our lawyer disagreed and complained about Godwin’s health, but the magistrate gave the order for the police to detain us for 21 more days, which will elapse on June 29, 2020.

“When Godwin’s health deteriorated, the Investigating Police Officer took him to hospitals in Obalende and Yaba, where he was rejected. Godwin was later taken to the Police Hospital in Falomo and I followed them.

“The doctor conducted some tests and confirmed that Godwin’s breathing wasn’t normal and suggested that he should be granted bail. He also recommended that he should be taken to the Infectious Disease Hospital. When we got there for the COVID-19 test, the workers spent more than 30 minutes just to take his details and refused to attend to him immediately.”

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Bala Elkana, said, “The two suspects were investigated for international fraud. They forged Federal Government documents and defrauded an international company. They were charged by the SCIID and the court remanded them in police custody.

“The challenge the police are facing currently is that prisons are not admitting new inmates because of COVID-19; so, once we have a case now, we have the burden of providing detention facility for anybody we take to court.

“That was why the two suspects were brought back to us, and while in remand, Godwin developed symptoms of COVID-19 and we took him to hospitals but he was rejected. We later took him to the Police Hospital in Falomo, where the doctor referred him to the isolation centre in Yaba for a test and he eventually died while on admission.

“The second suspect was also showing similar symptoms, because he had contact with the deceased, and the legal team had to return to court to request that the remand order be vacated so that he could be granted bail to treat himself, because he is of high risk to the persons in our facility. So, he was released by the court.”

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