Friday, 22nd September 2023

Businessman kicks over alleged diversion of Venezuelan animal skin, hides

By Silver Nwokoro
06 April 2023   |   3:38 am
A Lagos-based businessman, Ayodele Oluwaseun, has cried out over alleged diversion of his $252,000 worth of hides and skin he imported from Venezuela between November 28 , 2022 and March 30, 2023.

Interpol’s headquarters in Singapore, REUTERS/Thomas White

A Lagos-based businessman, Ayodele Oluwaseun, has cried out over alleged diversion of his $252,000 worth of hides and skin  he imported from Venezuela between November 28 , 2022 and March 30, 2023.

Oluwaseun alleged that he was cheated of the goods by a Kano-based businessman,  Alhaji Maniru Garba and his agents,  acting in connivance with police attached to the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL).

The importer appealed to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and civil society organisations, to help him recover his money or his goods and bring the alleged fraudsters to justice.

But Alhaji Garba denied any wrongdoing, saying the goods were his, but were wrongly diverted to Oluwaseun by the Venezuelans.

Oluwaseun made the allegations through his lawyer, Justice Segun Ojienoh on January 20, 2023 via a petition to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) Annex, Alagbon Close, Lagos.

He claimed his four containers loaded with hides and skins were hijacked by Garba with the active physical connivance of soldiers.

The petitioner said Garba and his friends, Agarawu Jadesola Taofiq and Adekola Ibrahim Olanrewaju together with their companies, Emmhbeth Nig. Ltd and Laskumer Global Enterprises, imported the dry hides and skin through a Venezuelan firm, JQ International Consultants C.A, (en route The Netherlands).

The firm issued the telex documents evidencing full and final payment for the goods.

According to him, they obtained all the necessary original documents for the goods and the importation was to be done in two consignments of four containers each.

While the first batch of four containers were expected to arrive in Lagos, which was the point of delivery by November 2022, the second consignment of four containers were expected by March 2023 via Lome, Togo, which was the point of delivery.

The lawyer said: “When our client proceeded to clear the goods from the Ports, they were told that the containers had holds placed on them that were barring them from proceeding with the clearing. As a result of this, the containers started incurring demurrage.

“Upon investigation, it was discovered that it was the duo of Alhaji Maniru Garba, who is said to live in Kano and Ayuba Hussaini Muhammed, their organisation, Hen-NGO that placed holds on the containers.

“Upon our client’s contact with them, they told our clients that they were also importers of hides and skin and are in the same line of business.

“They told our clients that the exporters owe them some money. Our clients made it clear to them that that ought to be a private business between them and the exporters and urged them to remove the hold from the containers, so that clearing same can be seamless to which it seemed to our clients that they agreed.”

The lawyer alleged that Muhammed, in the guise of an amicable settlement, persuaded Oluwaseun to release the original papers of the importation to a third party that they all trusted, Mr. Nwankwo Chuka Kevin, and pay clearing and demurrage fees of N32 million.

Oluwaseun complied, but alleged that upon release of the goods, Ayuba and Garba “used military men to scare our client’s agent, Mr. Adekola Ibrahim Olanrewaju, away and took the containers to an unknown destination.

“All these events happened from November 28, 2022, when the ship arrived to the 12th of January when they were released.”

Fearing “intimidation, threat to life and criminal conversion of property”, he petitioned the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of FCID, Lagos, in a January 20, 2023, letter against Garba and two others.

He alleged that INTERPOL took over the petition and aided the delivery of two of the containers in the second shipment worth $84,000 to Garba’s warehouse “despite the fact that all importation documents were in the name of my client who paid all clearing and demurrage fees as well as customs duties on all four containers.”

But insisting that the goods were his, Garba said he paid the Venezuelans $400,000 for the goods over a year ago, and sent him all the necessary paperwork, including the bill of lading, but he failed to deliver the goods. He said they cheated him of the money, which he took as a loan from a bank, and then diverted the goods to Oluwaseun.