A Lagos-based 28-year-old man, Damilola Areje, has allegedly absconded with a 2019 Mercedes Benz GLE 43, worth N52 million, and $700 worth of Bitcoin belonging to a 32-year-old businesswoman, Nneka Chiemelu, who is into real estate and construction.
According to Miss Chiemelu, Damilola, an acquaintance whose father, Inspector Adegbola Areje is a policeman, allegedly stole her car from her apartment in Lekki Phase 1 and absconded with $700 worth of Bitcoin which was paid into his wallet by one of her clients on Friday, July 22, 2022, at 04:05 pm.
Media, however, gathered that all four of Damilola’s phone lines had been switched off and his active Instagram handle deleted since the theft.
Narrating her ordeal amid tears, Chiemelu said, “Damilola requested that I help him with the sum of N20,000 that he needed some money to pay for flyers to promote his business, and I promised to give him the N20,000 on the condition that he takes up a site supervision job at my place of work upon completion of the work in order to assist him rather than just hand him the money.
“He was expected to resume at 9 am but he resumed at 2 pm and requested that I help pay for his Uber ride which I did through a bank transfer to the Uber driver’s account.
“An hour later, he asked if I could allow him to charge his phone in my car so I gave him my car keys to proceed, and he went into the car and pretended to be charging his phone.
“A few minutes later, a guest came into the service apartment that I manage, wanting to pay an outstanding fee and asked if I had a cryptocurrency account so that he could pay through that means, and I told him that I had none. So I asked Daniel whether he has the means to receive payment through Bitcoin, and he said he does and accepted to help receive the payment on my behalf. So my client made a payment of $700 into his Bitcoin wallet and he confirmed receipt right there in the presence of my client and myself.
“A few minutes later he asked to leave, a request which I declined, telling him that he could only leave after he has transferred the $700 paid into his Bitcoin account to me, but he lied that his service provider was poor, so he was waiting on the network. While we waited on the network I wanted to get food and he asked if he could come with me and I accepted, I then excused myself to quickly meet with someone to inform them that I was stepping out for a few minutes, but by the time I got out, Damilola had gotten into my car and instead of honking at for the security officer to open the gate for him, he called on one of my staff members to open the gate for him, and he absconded with my Mercedes Benz and my $700 worth of Bitcoin.
“At first, it didn’t occur to me that my car had just been stolen, so I called him but his numbers were not reachable but his WhatsApp was still active and displayed that he was online at the time. I texted him to come back and that I was very hungry and I needed to get food, but he ignored my chat until he went offline. About 20 minutes later when I didn’t hear from him, I decided to take an Uber to his residence, upon getting there, I was informed by the security that he had just packed up his things and left the premises. I tried calling his numbers again but he had switched them off and also deleted his social media handle.
“So I went to a nearby police station at Maroko where his biological father, who is a police officer works, to report the matter on that Friday. I also made a post on my Instagram handle asking the public to help me report him if found anywhere for stealing my car, I received different comments on the post from him, his mother and some other users claiming that I was a liar and that the car belongs to him, I responded to almost all the comments asking them to go ahead to the police station and give their own account on who owns the car, and I also told him that if it was true that the car belonged to him, he has no reason to hide, he should instead come out to make his statement to the police.
“On July 27, I received a message from an international number on WhatsApp from an unidentified person whom I suspected to be Damilola, asking me to pay him N500,000 to help me with information of his whereabouts, but when I asked for his account number, he sent a Bitcoin wallet address instead.”
Narrating how she got her car, Chiemelu said, “I purchased my car from Unique Motors on July 7, 2021, with a deposit of N27 million through bank transfer, and I am expected to pay the car dealer a balance of N25 million later, and I have the receipt, although I was yet to register the car.
“Meanwhile, I was later advised to request for a transfer of the case to the Police Headquarters in Lagos to hasten the investigation process and I have done that.
“On Monday, July 25, the matter was transferred and till now after a whole week, I have not heard anything from the police concerning my car.
“However, on Tuesday, July 26, my contacts at the Vehicle Inspection Office tracked the registration of the car through its chassis number, and discovered that Damilola, in a bid to claim ownership of my car, had registered the car in his name on that same Tuesday, using my home address, and one of his telephone lines which is now switched off.”
Efforts to reach Damilola, Friday evening, proved futile as all his telephone lines were switched off.
When correspondents reached out to his father, Inspector Areje, the policeman stated that he was not at liberty to comment on the issue considering the fact that he is an officer of the Nigeria Police Force and his son is involved in the matter.
However, the Lagos State Command’s Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, who spoke to correspondents, confirmed that the case has been transferred to the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters in Ikeja, adding that the Police was yet to conclude investigation on the matter.
Hundeyin said, “It is true that the case has been transferred to the Police Headquarters at Ikeja due to its sophistry. However, investigation is ongoing, but there’s been no breakthrough yet.
“Meanwhile, we’ve written to the Motor Vehicle Administration Agency because they have details of every car bought in Nigeria. However, we learnt that Mr Damilola is Miss Chiemelu’s boyfriend, and it seems like there’s a tussle over ownership of the car.
“However, we’re still in search of Damilola and the car although the car doesn’t have a tracker and that’s not making things easy. However, we’re on top of the matter, and we’d make our findings known once investigation is concluded.”