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Holy Swindle!...This born-again woman has been impersonating a Customs officer and duping people

Posted by By JULIANA FRANCIS on 2005/01/09 | Views: 342 |

Holy Swindle!...This born-again woman has been impersonating a Customs officer and duping people


She claims to be a Born Again Christian. And she projects herself as such – no ear-rings no make-up and with scarf tied close to her skull and covering the upper half of her ears. But the authorities insist she is a fraud.

She claims to be a Born Again Christian. And she projects herself as such – no ear-rings no make-up and with scarf tied close to her skull and covering the upper half of her ears. But the authorities insist she is a fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have now picked up the 44-year-old woman who claims to be a Superintendent in the Nigerian Customs Service. She’s been nabbed on charges of impersonation and fraud.

The woman, identified as Mrs. Adiza Hassan, was said to have waltzed into a manufacturing company along the Oshodi-Mile 2 express way, claiming to be an agent of EFCC.

But before her stroll into the company that fateful day of November, the smart woman had called the Managing Director of the company. She told the man she was calling from Abuja.

She had further told the MD that there was a petition against the company on her table. The petition was allegedly from “Edema Benson and Co. They were supposed to be legal practitioners and human right activists”, said a source.

According to reports, Hassan had alleged that the petitioners were insisting that the company has evaded some import duties. Playing at being a Good Samaritan, she promised to come over to Lagos and investigate the allegation herself. She was said to have strongly hinted that she was doing the company a big favour.
Saturday Sun gathered that the MD, who wished to remain anonymous, knew the company was clean and had become suspicious. But, trying to drag Hassan out of her nest, had agreed to await her arrival.

The trap
As soon as he finished speaking with the alleged officer, the MD was on the phone again. This time, he called EFCC’s office in Abuja with the name of Adiza Hassan. The name came up, blank. Quite sure his first instinct had been right, the man spilled the bean to the organisation. He was immediately ordered by EFCC to play along whenever the woman called. Putting its entire arsenal to work, the EFCC drafted its agents into the company to lie low and pretend to be members of staff.

Perhaps sensing that the hangman noose was slowly circling around her, Hassan refused to show up on the days, she promised. The agents were already beginning to lose hope when lady luck took a leave of absence from Hassan and she called, refixing the aborted appointment.

The source said: “The day she came to refix the appointment was on a Sunday. Of course, she didn’t meet the MD but dropped a note saying she would come back the next day. She truly came and was ushered in like a queen.”

Hassan was indeed ushered with a treatment only meant for royalty. Exuding a lot of authority, she was said to have thrown her weight around and berated people.
It was when she got to the lined up staff that has come to “welcome” her that the bubble burst for her. The EFCC agents who were among the standing staff, had whipped out their identity cards into her stunned face and told her the game was up.

Fake petition, fake EFCC stamp
When Saturday Sun visited the EFCC office along Awolowo Road to confirm the story, the Head Media and Publicity, Mr. Osita Nwayah, said: “yes it was true. Recovered from her were the fake petition, fake EFCC stamp and the phone she used to contact the MD of the company.

“She claimed to be a Superintendent in custom who had retired in 2002. She gave her Lagos homes address as 30, Agbonyin Street, Aguda, Surulere. We went there but nobody was there. We are suspecting she uses the place as a transit abode. We found in the room after we broke into it photos, three complimentary cards bearing “Goldstone Ventures”.

Fake identity
But the first real shock for the EFCC agents’ investigating the case was the discovery that Hassan’s real name is Esther Olabisi Bello. The woman who claimed to be a born-again had answers for each hole found in her story. She claimed to have changed her name to Esther after she divorced her husband and met “Christ”.

Working on the theory that Hassan might be one of a syndicate, EFCC had tried to trace the address on the fake petition of “Edema Benson” located at Apapa but had met a dead end. The address does not exist.

Suspect insists on her innocence
Hassan, who probably suspected she was on sinking sand with all the evidences gathered up against her, has tried to clutch at straw. She allegedly told the agents that some of her old colleagues at customs brought the petition to her shop in Abuja. She got the agent yawning with boredom rather convinced when she had further claimed those her colleagues wrote the petition on behalf of another group of colleagues.

With available evidence, EFCC men are finding it difficult to believe Hassan’s story and claim that she is innocent. Already a letter has been sent to the Nigeria Customs Service to verify, if indeed, she had once worked with them.

EFCC raises alarm
Seizing the opportunity, Nwayah said! “It has come to the notice of EFCC that fraudsters are impersonating officials of the commission, inducing fear and extorting money from unsuspecting members of the public.

“The public are advised not to fall prey to these fraudsters and should report any attempted case of extortion or intimidation to EFCC. Nigerians are informed that we do not collect port charges nor charges for any service. Do not pay money to anyone to shield you from investigation by the commission”, the EFCC image maker warned.

Nwayah had gone further to say that people should verify the identity of any supposed EFCC official who comes to them. Conceding that some officials might be genuine, Nwayah insist that Nigerians must insist a discussion with the purported EFCC agent at plots 1017 and 1018 Coree Bay Crescent, off Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja, which is EFCC Head Office. The Lagos branch at 15 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, 7 Okotie Eboh Road, and Ikoyi.

He added: “EFCC is currently working on several reports on these extortionists. A few of them have been apprehended and are helping the commission’s investigation of this deplorable trend.

“Let it be known that EFCC is determined to visit the full weight of the law on any person or group caught attempting to tarnish the commission’s hard earned corruption-free image.”

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.