Mr. Atubi Johnson Oghenekevwe, the Nigerian man who is the supposed registered surety of the Delta State Take-It-Back Coordinator, Ighorhiohwunu Aghogho, has kicked against recent reports about him.
He debunked the allegation that he diverted the sum of N200,000 he collected for the fulfilment of the bail condition of the human rights activist arrested and detained by men of the Nigeria Police Force, Delta State Command.
Aghogho had accused the Assistant Inspector General, Zone 5 Benin, Lawan Tanko Jimeta, of compromising an ongoing child trafficking investigation involving Delta State Government officials, police officers and a retired chief judge among others.
SaharaReporters had reported that a source accused Oghenekevwe of collecting and diverting the sum of N200,000 meant to fulfil the activist’s bail condition and secure his release from detention.
But reacting to the allegation, Oghenekevwe denied diverting the money for his personal use, saying that the money was meant to pay any surety who has a property with a Certificate of Occupancy as required by the Federal High Court sitting in Warri, but while searching for a surety, he fell sick and was admitted in hospital.
Speaking with SaharaReporters in defence of the allegation, Oghenekevwe said the detained activist, Aghogho, is his friend whom he knew when there was an issue in his (Oghenekevwe) office at High Court 2 Warri.
Denying ever working with the Federal High Court as alleged, Oghenekevwe said, “After some time, he called me to say that he was in Ogwashi-Uku Prison. I asked him what happened and briefed me on the issue. I’m a retired staff of High Court Warri. I’m not a staff of a Federal High Court. Sometime in May this year when one of my friends had an issue in Federal High Court and I went there, that was the day they brought Aghogho to the court.
“He was granted bail that day for N5 million and one property owner with a certificate of ownership. It was then that Aghogho called me and said that I’m the one to help him. I told him that getting a surety with a certificate of occupancy is not easy and that sometimes those who have it charge up to N500,000.
“However, I promised to help him look for someone. After some time, I saw one of my friends – Pama and I told him about it. We agreed on N200,000 and we went to the Federal High Court where he (Pama) swore an Affidavit and submitted photocopies and every other thing needed. The Ministry of Justice then called the surety and said that they wanted to go and verify his house.
“When he met with the officers from the ministry of justice, they told him the details of Aghogho’s offence and they put fear in him, and suddenly, he said he was no longer standing as surety. Before I knew, he had met with his lawyer – Barrister Ohimoh, and he had written a letter to the Federal High Court that he had withdrawn his suretyship.”
He said that after Pama withdrew his suretyship, “I called Aghogho’s people and I decided to return the N200,000 to his (Aghogho’s) friend – Enefa Georgewill in Port Harcourt and I sent the money back to him through the Access Bank account he sent to me. But Aghogho kept mounting pressure on me to help him, calling me more than five times a day.
“Luckily, my wife is a staff member of High Court Effurun and my wife said there was one man who came to her office and said he has a certificate of occupancy and if anybody wants to use it, he should be contacted. I discussed it with the man and he said he would collect N300,000. I called Georgewill in Port Harcourt and told him to return the N200,000 for us to start with and he sent it back to me.
“The man asked me to give him N50,000 before showing me the document but I refused and it took four days before I was able to see the man and he showed me the certificate of occupancy. I asked him to give me the certificate to take to the court and if the court confirms that it is correct, I would pay him the N200,000 and when the judge signs the certificate, I will give him the balance, and he said he wanted to scan it and give to my wife in the office the following day.
“The following day, I did not see the man and I asked my wife if the man gave her the certificate but she said no. All this was going on while I was communicating with Aghogho. The man stopped answering my calls and when I called him with another line, he said that he had used it at the Federal High Court and that he thought it was another High Court. That was how I discontinued with the man and I did not give him any money and I told Aghogho and his friend in Port Harcourt.
“I then told them that I will still look for somebody who has a certificate of occupancy. Along the line, the High Court judge was promoted to Court of Appeal and he quickly left and the sitting did not hold again. I suggested that we should use the N200,000 to process the C of O with my friend in Asaba but Aghogho refused and said I should return the money.”
Oghenekevwe told SaharaReporters that during that process, he fell sick and everything ended but his friend called Georgewill and told him that there was no judge at the Federal High Court and as the court would go on vacation anytime in July, any other thing on the matter would be done in the new legal year from September.
“The man was angry and said all sorts of things. I was admitted to the hospital on the 12th of this month (July) and I was discharged a few days later. My friend called Georgewill in Port Harcourt and told him I was ill, that I had just been discharged from the hospital.
“I said between now and Friday, if I get myself, I will still talk with him, my body is weak as I am battling with emotional depression from this same issue. I’m over 60 years old and have been doing this, it’s not the first time I am doing this kind of business.
“I called Aghogho and told him we have been friends for a long time and you need help. How can I defraud you when you come to me for help? I told him that I will give him his money and it’s not the first time I am doing business with him and even the one from Port Harcourt. I explained everything to him that he should give me some time and I will pay. That they should not have the impression that I want to defraud them, that I am above 65 years old and not even planning on doing it. Since then Aghogho has been calling me more than four times in a day with two different numbers.”
On the allegation that he refused to answer calls, Oghenekevwe said, “At the time he (Aghogho) called me, I was in the hospital and Georgewill also called during this period and I couldn’t answer calls. When I was discharged there was no airtime on my phone but prior to that time, I was talking with them. And that was why Mr Pama called him when I was discharged and explained everything to him, asking for more time.
“Even before my admission, they were talking on the phone. All I asked for was more time. Mr Georgewill asked when I was going to pay, I just told him to give me time and let’s see how it would go before I was admitted to the hospital.
“I just asked for patience till Friday at least so I would be strong then we can see how we can go about it and Mr Georgewill accepted, saying he is only after Mr Aghogho’s freedom. The N200,000 is still with me and I’m using it to process another certificate of occupancy for him at Asaba, but as it stands now, I want to stay clear from him, because Aghogho did not consider our relationship before doing anything. I will just look for his money and give it to him.”
“Aghogho knows the judges are on vacation so nothing can be done now. He knows getting a surety is not that easy. Between now and September, I will refund Aghogho his money,” Oghenekevwe said.