The Osun State Police command has stated that the state lawmaker, Timothy Owoeye, seen in a video bathing in the market square for ritual, was a victim of a ritual syndicate.
A video had emerged on social media showing the lawmaker being beaten by some men who purportedly caught him taking a midnight ritual shower in a market.
Some of those who circulated the video on social media said Owoeye, who is currently the House Majority Leader of Osun State House of Assembly, was performing the ritual ahead of the upcoming 2019 general election.
But Mr Owoeye, representing Ilesa West for the All Progressives Congress, was actually a victim of a high-wire blackmail racket that had seen him part with humongous amount of his personal wealth in a desperate bid to save not only his own career but family image, Osun police commissioner, Adeoye Fimihan, told Premium Times Sunday afternoon.
Fimihan said: “The fellow is a victim of some fraudsters who duped him some amount of money.
“They tricked him to that place and did that to blackmail him so that he will not be able to lodge a complaint in the public.”
Owoeye’s misery began about six months ago when he agreed to bath in a market as recommended by herbalists he had been consulting for traditional prayers.
But as he undressed himself and started having his shower, some persons — whom the police suspect had been lurking in the dark— emerged from the nearby bush, turned on lights and focused cameras on the lawmaker.
Sources close to Owoeye to Premium Times that persons were arranged by the fraudsters who had been parading themselves to the lawmaker as herbalists working to help enhance his fortunes through traditional means.
The syndicate promised not to circulate the video if Owoeye complied with their demands for cash. He paid the initial cash to the crooks, which subsequently opened a cascade of regular financial flows to their pockets.
At some point during the blackmail, about three months ago, Owoeye wanted to sell a filling station he owned after running out of liquid cash to keep his so-called scandal out of the media.
“He did not sell the filling station, but he had paid them more than 40 million before then,” the source said. It was when Owoeye was trying to raise money by selling his filling station that an associate pressed him to disclose what his crisis was about. He was then asked to advised to take the matter to the governor and subsequently to the police.
“We are happy that he summoned the courage to complain and the police succeeded in arresting some of those fellows and they were charged to court.
“Whatever is being circulated is just a way of ensuring that he will not be able to complain,” the state police commissioner said.
The commissioner said he could not immediately tell how much Owoeye lost to the scheme, but the police had recovered N10 million of it already.
According to the commissioner of police and Owoeye’s associate, the video was leaked by other members of the syndicate who were yet to be taken into custody.