Retired AIG buys stolen SUV in an auction

A stolen Toyota Sport Utility Vehicle found in the possession of a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) who claimed he purchased the vehicle through a public auction has sparked a row. The car’s original owner faulted the public auction of his vehicle to the ex-police chief, saying the information provided for its auction did not add up.

It was around midnight a decade ago when some dare-devil robbers broke into the home of Eye Ayo Samuel in Erusu Akoko, Akoko North West Local Government Area of Ondo State. The hoodlums broke into his apartment through the kitchen window and shattered his sleep.

“The incident occurred on January 24, 2014. I was sleeping in my house when the two armed men broke into my home through the window of the kitchen and threatened to shoot me and my family.

“The intruders made away with five phones including Tecno, Samsung, Blackberry and Nokia brands.

“Not satisfied with their loot, they also took away my N3 million white 2006 model Toyota Highlander Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) marked EKY 850 AJ with chassis number: JTE DW 21A060004010,” he said.

Samuel, who runs a printing firm, said in the morning of January 25, he rushed to the nearby police division at Ikare Akoko to report the matter while he also contacted the office of the Federal Road Safety Corps to flag the stolen car.

As it has turned out, the car has now a subject of controversy between Samuel and one retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Olatunji Akingbola.

Samuel recalled: “In the morning of January 25, 2014, I went straight to the Ikare Police Station and reported the incident. But nothing came out of it until recently when I discovered that the car was bought by one Olatunji Akingbola, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG).

“If you look at the auction paper, you will see that there was no registered vehicle number or number plate and no car chassis number displayed or written on the Toyota Highlander auctioned to him.

“On the contrary, my car was a hybrid Toyota Highlander and it has a registered number and number plate as well as a chassis number.”

Samuel said last year, he was alerted by the FRSC office in Lagos that the vehicle was brought in for registration.

He said: “I was shocked when FRSC called me on my mobile phone repeatedly that my car was discovered among the vehicles whose documents were submitted for number plates, and I was furious.

Vehicle’s registration number missing from auction notice

The approval for the public auction of the vehicle was issued on August 25, 2015, by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Boniface Onyeabo, in a memo to the Assistant Director of Police Pay Office, Obalende Lagos. The correspondence mentioned one Godwin Okafor as the registered police auctioneer approved to handle the public sale of the vehicles including the Toyota Highlander SUV.

Subsequently, in the exhibit vehicles due for public auction released by the police, 17 vehicles, including a Toyota Highlander Sport Utility Vehicle, were listed as approved for auction. However, the controversial car was listed as number 6 without any registration number.

The Sun newspaper of Tuesday, July 21, 2015 had noted that no fewer than 19 vehicles were recovered by the defunct Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FEDSARS) Adeniji Adele, Lagos.

Eventually, the car, which Samuel claimed was worth more than N3 million at the time it was snatched at gunpoint, was sold for a paltry N20,000 to one Wosola Akinkuowo at the public auction held on September 7, 2015, according to the receipt issued in respect of the transaction sighted by our reporter.

How I got the vehicle – AIG

When our reporter contacted AIG Akingbola, the retired police chief explained that he had been invited by the Commissioner of Police in Ondo State to clarify his complicity in the controversial vehicle a few months ago.

He said: “I think the man (Samuel) is just out to destroy himself and not my name.

“I am a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG).

“In 2014, I was the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in charge of FEDSARS, Abuja. I was incidentally moved to Adeniji Adele annex of FEDSARS for six months during which there was an auction sale of recovered vehicles.

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“I was not there when the vehicle was auctioned, but the person to whom the vehicle was sold via auction approached me, saying that the car was a hybrid Toyota Highlander and that the battery was expensive. Hence, he said that he was willing to sell it to me.

“I was not in charge of FEDSARS at Adeniji Adele Annex then. The person in charge of the office was DCP Boniface Onyeabo.

“So, I bought the car for N250,000 from the person who got it through a police auction, and I found that it cost a whopping $3,000 to get a new battery for a hybrid Toyota car.

“I was later introduced to a technician who could fix the battery and brakes of the vehicle. I also did a conversion of the vehicle from a hybrid to a normal car.

“Early this year, I gave it to someone to sell it for me and the person sold it to someone who took it to Abuja.

“I was later told that the vehicle had an issue when he took it to FRSC and I even gave my number to the new owner to call me at the FRSC office so that I could speak with officials there to resolve the problem.

“Suddenly, I was called by the Commissioner of Police, stating that there was a petition against me that a stolen vehicle was found in my possession. So, I visited the CP to explain my side of the story.

“I know that there are laws governing the sale of vehicles through public auction. I then gave the documents of the auction sale to the Ondo CP, who said that an investigation of the matter would be done.

“Recently, the CP called me to see him, and when I met him, he said the vehicle was auctioned via a public notice in The Sun newspaper where it was written as an unregistered Toyota Highlander.

“At a stage, the people handling the case asked him to seek clarification from FEDSARS Adeniji Adele annex, Lagos.

“The CP later asked that I produce the vehicle and bring it to the Ondo State Police Command in Akure.

“The car had been bought by a man for his wife and I had to refund the money paid by the man and the vehicle was returned to me.

“So, I promised the CP that I would send the vehicle to him through my driver.

“I don’t want to believe that he thinks that I was the one who sent robbers to rob him of the vehicle.

“I spent 35 years in the Police Force and I never received any query throughout my entire career. I have all the papers relating to the auction.

“The only thing that I changed in the car is the colour (from white to black),

“The same man (Samuel), perhaps thinking the Ondo CP would compromise again, wrote another petition to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and I was contacted.

“I have since explained my side of the story to an aide of IGP overseeing the matter, and I haven’t heard anything about the matter until now.

“In all, I followed all the necessary procedures in purchasing the car through public auction, and there are documents to validate that, which I provided during my meeting with the Ondo CP.”

Samuel however insisted that there was a foul play in the manner his stolen car was acquired by the ex-police chief, saying: “AIG Akingbola went to the FRSC office in Ojodu, Lagos to register the car with a new number, and he submitted the chasis number of my car, which was not displayed at the time it was being auctioned to him.

“It was the chassis number that the officials of FRSC saw that made them contact me on the phone, because I had requested that the car be flagged as a stolen vehicle immediately after it was snatched from me.

“If AIG Akingbola gave you the public notice where the vehicles were published for auctioning, it was only my car that was published without its registration number and chassis number.

“So how come he now went to the FRSC office to register the vehicle with my car’s registered number and chassis number?

“By the time the vehicle was brought to the state police command as requested by me when I reported to the Police Commissioner, the chassis number written on the windscreen had been erased, but they couldn’t erase the chassis number on the engine.”

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