Man dies of COVID-19 in Lagos after allegedly impersonating Fashola, defrauding US firm of N75m
Godwin Julius, a man being investigated by the police for his involvement in the alleged impersonation of Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and defrauding a US-based firm of $200,000, has died while being tested for COVID-19.
The suspect died at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Lagos.
He had been arrested by the police alongside one Obinale Osunwoke in the Ejigbo area of the state after a large chunk of the fraud sum was traced to his bank account.
According to reports, the police acted on a petition written by Wisdom Chris, the representative of the US-based firm, Terraroad’s International Incorporation.
The Punch quoted Chris as saying the Julius and others still at large impersonated Fashola and swindled the company out of $200,000 (approximately (N75 million) with forged documents.
“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,” Chris said.
The police were said to have approached a court to obtain a remand order for the duo.
During the investigation, Julius reportedly took ill and was taken to the Police Hospital in Ikoyi, where a doctor referred him to IDH in Yaba for COVID-19 test.
It was during this test that the suspect died.
The other suspect, Osunwoke, explained that “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.
“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.”
Reacting, the Lagos State Police Command spokesman, DSP 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.”
The Herald NG – John Ogunsemore