At least twenty persons were killed on Wednesday, April 1, when a lightning strike damaged a high-voltage power line in a suburb of the Congolese capital Brazzaville, the local mayor and witnesses said.
The mayor of Kintele, Stella Mensah Sassou Nguesso, told state radio that seven bodies had been sent to a nearby morgue and another 13 to a mortuary in the capital.
An eyewitness said lightning “cut through two high-voltage cables,” electrocuting people on the ground.
“One cable fell on a house… and electrocuted three occupants,” said the eyewitness, who gave his name only as Rock.
“The other cable, which fell into a courtyard flooded with water, electrocuted the neighbours,” he said. The area was hit by heavy rains early Wednesday.
Ambulances, hearses, security officials and electric company workers rushed to the scene, another witness said.
Private individuals could be seen taking some bodies and injured people into their cars to take them to morgues and hospitals.
The number of injured was not immediately known.
Sexagenarian Dies As Friend Steals ATM Card, Withdraws N700,000
The family of a 60-year-old man, Isak Wahab, has been thrown into mourning after he reportedly died from shock after an unauthorised withdrawal of N700,000 from his bank account.
His wife, Monsurat, accused his friend, identified only as Ola, of making the withdrawal, which she said led to the death of the sexagenarian.
Monsurat, while speaking to our correspondent during a visit to their residence in the Ikotun area of Lagos State, said Ola stole her husband’s ATM card.
She said, “Ola was a close friend to our family, particularly my husband. He had financial difficulties with his rent and he came to my husband to tell him that he wanted to sell his generator so that he could raise money to pay his rent. My husband told him not to do that and said he (Isak) was expecting payment from our tenants and he could help. My husband then gave him N10,000.
“Meanwhile, we did not know that Ola had taken my husband’s ATM card and he withdrew money from it amounting to N700,000. He withdrew the money in tranches of N200,000, N300,000 and another N200,000.”
The deceased’s son, Ajibola, alleged that Ola stole his father’s ATM card after he (Isak) became intoxicated while they drank alcohol together.
He said the case was reported at the Ikotun Police Station for investigation, adding that the suspect disappeared after he was accused of being responsible for the death.
He said, “Last week Thursday, my dad was not alright, but I felt it was just ordinary malaria or a small illness. But later, I was told that it was serious and I had to call my siblings. We later learnt from our mother that our father was defrauded by Mr Ola.
“My father died on Friday and we buried him on Saturday. After his burial, we went to his friend’s house, confronted him and while arguing with him, we seized his phone. Since that day, we have not seen him.
“As I speak to you, I have his phone with me and we have reported the case at the Ikotun Police Station. He had issues and needed money and our father promised to help and gave him N10,000.
“Now, Mr Ola took our father’s ATM card, went to a PoS operator, and transferred about N700,000 from his account to other accounts. When our father saw it, he was deeply sad and he died because he never expected that his best friend would do that to him.”
The PUNCH visited Ola’s house in the community, but he was nowhere to be found.
However, his younger brother, identified simply as Ifa Dollars, absolved the suspect of blame in the incident.
He said, “I heard what they said my brother did, but I don’t know anything about it. If my brother was involved in any way, they are the ones that know what they have been doing. But he has no hand in the death.”
Asked the whereabouts of Ola, he said, “I don’t know his whereabouts.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, said nobody reported the incident to the police.
He said, “I have not heard anything about the case but as soon as we get information on the matter, I will contact you.”
He had yet to get back to our correspondent as of press time.
However, the deceased’s family insisted that the case was reported at the Ikotun Police Station on June 23, 2022.
Teenage Apprentice Disappears After Four Months In Lagos, Family Panics
A 17-year-old boy, Chinonso Orji, has gone missing after leaving home for his place of work at Ogba, in the Ikeja area of Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Chinonso, an indigene of Okoko, in the Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, left home around 9am on Thursday, June 25, 2022.
His elder sister, Mercy, said he was last seen at a shop where he went to buy food.
She said, “He relocated to Lagos towards the end of February. I brought him here to learn clothing business in a boutique. He’s learning how to buy and sell wares at the boutique. He left the house around 9am on Thursday for the boutique. He was wearing a yellow shirt and jean trousers. He’s five feet and two inches tall.
“I reported the case at the Pen Cinema Police Station, Agege, where they promised us that announcements would be made on television and radio stations. Family members have also been asking questions and making calls. There was no strange behaviour from him and we do not suspect any foul play from anywhere.
“The last place we asked for him was where he used to eat and the food seller said she saw him when he came to buy food, but he could not wait because of the crowd at her shop.”
Mercy said the food vendor informed her that Chinonso was seen speaking with a group of yet-to-be-identified boys.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, said he was not aware of the case.
Developers Defraud 70 House Seekers, Victims Faint
Two developers, Oluwasegun Adewara, and one Okeowo, have gone into hiding after allegedly defrauding no fewer than 70 prospective tenants at Lawanson, in the Surulere area of Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the prospective tenants visited the building, which was under construction, to inspect its premises and afterwards made payments to the developers.
After confirming the payments, it was learnt that the suspects issued receipts to the victims and set aside separate dates for them to take ownership of the apartments.
Things, however, took another turn when the people got to the house on 16, Zamba Street, Lawason, on the specified dates given by the developers but discovered that the number of prospective tenants outnumbered the apartments in the one-storey building.
One of the victims, Jacob Dunya, said the house had just 14 flats, adding that 120 prospective tenants paid to the developers, who disappeared after their fraudulent acts were uncovered.
The Plateau State indigene said, “I paid N600,000 for a mini-flat for a year directly to the account of the developer, Oluwasegun Olanrewaju Adewara, on April 26, 2022. When I visited the house, I noticed that the work at the site was less as it was left for them to fix only the doors and the windows.
“So, they gave last Monday to collect keys to my apartment. But when I got there, the developer told me the place was not ready and said I should return on Monday, June 20, 2022. When I got there, I saw them fixing the keys to the doors and I was told to come back again this week Tuesday.
“I never knew that last Thursday and Friday, people had come around to fight them to access their apartments. I quickly rushed down on Friday and noticed that there were hoodlums around asking people to pay N100,000 so they could break down the padlocks used in locking some of the doors so they could have access to the apartments.
“The developers are nowhere to be found and we have yet to hear from the owners of the land and their lawyers. Over 120 people paid for the 14 flats in this building and more people are still coming. The money people paid will be about N60m because some people made advance payments for five years. They also gave us receipts. The matter was reported at the Itire Police Station.”
Another victim, Jenifer Ihemeje, while lamenting the incident, said some prospective tenants cried and fainted out of shock.
The entrepreneur said, “I paid N650,000 in April to Mr Okeowo wanna and others, but they kept postponing till June 14, 2022, when I sent a text message to threaten them. It was another person who also paid for a flat that informed me that about 10 people paid for a single flat.
“The person said a lot of people gathered at the house on Friday over the incident. So, I rushed down there on Saturday and met people crying, shouting and some people even fainted.”
A widow, Love Chidi, said she paid N250,000 for a single room in January and left for her husband’s burial in Abia State.
“But when I returned, the developers said they had not completed work on the building. My husband died in December and we were sent out of the house we were staying because the building had cracked and was likely to collapse. So, I came here, paid the developer and left for the burial only to return to face this war. There are over 117 people stranded here,” she added.
The receipts of some of the aggrieved house seekers seen by our correspondent indicated that the developers operated with a business name, Sheedison Construction Co.
A screenshot confirming payment into Oluwasegun Adewara’s Access Bank account was also seen by our correspondent.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, who confirmed the incident, said the command had launched a manhunt for the fleeing suspects.
“But they are not 120; they are 70 people. The developer collected money for 15 flats and absconded,” he added.
In 2021, a developer, Ahmed Ayinde, was arrested by men of the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly defrauding no fewer than 100 prospective tenants of about N500m in the Olowo Ira area of the state.
Similarly, in 2019, over 66 prospective tenants got stranded as a landlord, Olatunji Joseph, in connivance with a developer, Aderonke Olaleye, allegedly swindled them out of over N16m paid for rents for five flats in a newly-constructed one-storey building on Abeni Close, Asa Estate, in the Gbagada area of the state.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said, “We have the Lagos State Real Estate Regulatory Authority Law 2022. The matter is described under that law and it is a very serious offence for anybody to collect money from people and deny them accommodation.
“But the problem is that our people don’t make enquiries; anybody who puts a board outside to say ‘To let’ or to say that he is a developer, people will just gather money and give him and the person will disappear. There are some of them who have no addresses but only telephone numbers, so this law makes it compulsory for anybody who wants to practise in that space to register as a practitioner. And once you register with the agency, should you collect money from anybody, it will be very easy to grab you.
“Now, we have a team that is going round on enforcement. Many people have faced the law for duping people of their hard-earned money and the agency has recovered money for people and resolved many disputes.”
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