The last time I saw him was about 30 years ago. As I breezed into Sapele in Delta State, a mutual friend brought up his name. He had retired from an oil company and own a hotel in town. We decided to visit him at the hotel.
As we reminisced and laughed hard over the times we shared at Ogini grammar School in Ogharefe, my home town across the Ethiope river, I asked him to turn down the volume of the television a bit so that we can hear ourselves better. He said that the TV remote had been hidden away somewhere else over fear of theft.
That revelation unintentionally guided us into the issue of rising crime in the country. Then he shared this story.
An ATM transfer
An old man went to do a transfer at an ATM. But he could not read the words on the screen of the ATM because he forgot his glasses.
A young man who was also on the queue to use the machine offered to help so that the old man will get out of the way and free the line.
The old man gave the Good Samaritan the details of his account and the account of his son who was expecting N50,000. The transfer was quickly done.
A day or so later when the old man did not get any confirmation from his son about the transfer he called the son to find out whether he had received the money. The son said he had not. The old man checked the debit alert on his phone and discovered that the recipient of the transfer was not his son but a hotel. Thinking some kind of mistake must have taken place, the old fellow went to his bank to find out what was in their record. The record was the same, the transfer was to a hotel.
A hotel booking and a bash.
That young man who helped the old man with the ATM transaction left the scene and headed straight to a hotel in down town Sapele and asked at the reception that a fifty thousand Naira transfer be confirmed. Once confirmed, he checked into a room and asked his friends to come around for some fun. When the money was exhausted, he checked out.
A bunch of trouble.
My friend who is the CEO of the hotel went to the bank to make a withdrawal. He was told that the account had been frozen. Apparently, the old man reported the illegal transfer to the police who obtained a court order to freeze the account pending the conclusion of the investigation.
Not long after, my friend was invited for questioning at a local police station over the matter. After his own investigation, my friend confirmed that indeed a N50,000 transfer was made to his hotel’s account and gave the name and telephone number of the individual who showed up to take a room in connection with the payment.
The police then asked him to go and produce the individual. He told the police that that was not his responsibility and promptly asked his lawyer to file a case in court to prevent the police from compelling him to produce the crook.
The police got wind of my friend’s plan, called a meeting between him and the old man and asked that they settle the matter amicably.
At the meeting to resolve the matter, my friend told the old man that since his hotel only provided legitimate service and bears no legal responsibility over the fraudulent transfer, he may consider paying back half of the stolen money, that is N25,000 for the sake of peace.
The old man flared up and demanded N100,000 as compensation. According to him, he had already spent about N40,000 in pursuing the case. So paying him N25,000 would not cover his loss. However, he did not say how he spent the N40,0000 in the pursuit of the case.
On the other hand, my friend was adamant about his offer and unwilling to go any further.
At the moment, my friend is considering triggering his first option of going to court to protect his company. He does not understand why the police has refused to go after the one who did the illegal transfer. In fact, he is beginning to think that the whole thing may be a set-up even though it doesn’t look like one yet.
Meanwhile, the old man is now accusing my friend, without proof, of bribing the police with N50,000 to investigate the case.
The situation is on going and the next meeting with the police is scheduled for Monday May 13th, 2019.
If you were in my friend’s shoes what would you do?