Since the news of the POS operator in Kwara State, who was arrested by the police for allegedly going on a spending spree with N280m erroneously posted to his account broke, there have been many narratives that have trailed the incident on what really transpired between the suspect, bank staff and security operatives.
The suspect, Rafiu Issa, popularly known as Alfa Rafiu by residents, is being prosecuted by the operatives of the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) Alagbon-Close, Ikoyi, Lagos which arrested him following an investigation over the issue.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Kwara State command, Ajayi Okasanmi (SP), confirmed the incident during a telephone chat with the Daily Trust.
“Yes, the matter is true, but his arrest was effected by the FCIID, Alagbon, in Lagos which makes it completely out of our purview”.
However, residents who spoke to our correspondent, including some of his friends who used to sit at the “assembly” together in their area, expressed divergent views about his conduct.
During a visit by Daily Trust to his residence at Akuji Compound, Abayawo in Ilorin West Local Government of the state on Wednesday, some of those who spoke on the issue initially feigned ignorance about the incident.
Although his POS shop was still under lock and key, a technician who repairs fans and other motor appliances said Alfa Rafiu had travelled. But asked if our correspondent could wait or come back later, the technician said “no because we don’t know when he will come back from his ‘trip’.”
It was the same response from a female chemist shop owner by the side of the POS shop. A female POS operator opposite Rafiu’s residence on the other street simply said: “I don’t know anything about that issue that you just mentioned, are you sure it happened in this environment because we have heard nothing of such.”
However, while recounting the incident, a resident, who simply identified himself as Ayepina, said the arrest of Rafiu had removed any doubt about the veracity of the development, adding that although Rafiu was a very quiet and unassuming person, he failed to display the right attitude in this case.
“What happened to him could have happened to anyone; even among those who are criticising him now. Could you believe there are some people who are of the opinion that Rafiu betrayed the fact that he hailed from Ilorin by not embarking on a “spiritual” journey over such matters?
“I don’t know if what they are saying is that Almighty Allah can bless His servants through dishonesty or that being honest is no longer a religious virtue when it involves huge amounts of money.
“In any case, he has been arrested, and they should go and fortify him spiritually for the prosecution not to go on,” he said.
How he was arrested
According to sources, Rafiu’s arrest by the EFCC was aided by one of his friends, who helped handle most of the transactions he made after he received the money.
According to one of the locals who spoke on the issue, Rafiu “has a friend who operates a chemist shop; I will not want to mention his name. He handled most of his transactions and spending but is now at large with the help of a relative who is a security operative serving in the state.
“After the money was sent to him in error sometime last year, he received some calls regarding it and when it was getting too much, he blocked some of the numbers and even changed his SIM. He was into the phone accessories business and later moved to POS operator and weaving Aso-Oke in between at the back of their house.
“Later, he decided to travel out of the country and transferred N50 million to his friend to withdraw on his behalf for his travel plans.
“It was during the process of the withdrawal that the EFCC got wind of the transaction and invited him. When they followed him to his chemist, the commission was surprised because what they met on the ground did not justify having such a huge amount in the bank.
“It was when they asked him what other work he does and how he came about the money that he confessed that it was a POS operator that sent it to him, which led to the arrest of Rafiu,” he added.
It was gathered that when the operatives brought Rafiu home to search his house, there were mixed reactions among the people of the area, between those who had already ‘benefited’ and others he had yet to extend the largesse to.
Another resident who also commented on the issue told Daily Trust that “Rafiu waited for close to one year before he felt it was now safe to spend the money after it was transferred into his account.
“What we understood is that he bought houses for himself and friends, sponsored some people to the last lesser hajj (Umrah). It was not to help him pray for the money to be forgotten but just as an act of kindness, especially when it was during the Ramadan. That further explained the money he doled out to some close friends. I know of one Lamidi to whom Rafiu gave N2 million. The receiver purchased a motorcycle and still uses it as we speak,” he added.
On his part, another resident of the area who craved anonymity told our correspondent that Rafiu had started the renovation of their family compound just before he was arrested.
“He is only a POS operator as his major business but has changed the roof of three buildings in their family compound. He has started the expansion of another one and bought two giant water tanks, which are yet to be installed to improve the water needs of his people there. But he had yet to complete the renovation before he was arrested.”
A member of the household told our correspondent that he could not speak on behalf of the family. He, however, exonerated Rafiu of the many accusations that have trailed his actions over the issue.
“Many people have been quick to blame him, but what they forget is that he is not a saint and anybody can fall victim in such a situation, especially considering the economic situation in the country. It takes the grace of Almighty Allah to live above board in such circumstances.
“People have asked questions like why he didn’t report to the bank when he received the money, and we have also been asking why the bank allowed him to transfer it to different accounts.
“Also, while we agreed that money was truly transferred to him, we don’t know how much it was. Was it N180 million or N280 million? The two narratives are out there, and what we hear now is that the source of the money or the owner has still not surfaced. But it was transferred, and someone is the source or the owner.
“But what I want to emphasise is that he didn’t go on a spending spree, buying cars and houses for himself and friends and sending people to the Umrah because that is not our culture as members of the Akuji household.
“What happened to him can happen to anybody, we are all watching to see how this will end. The court process has already commenced. I think he should have learnt from his mistake by now,” he added.
A BBC Yoruba report on the issue also quoted four of his relatives, two males and two females, who did not want their names in printed rising up to Rafiu’s defence over the issue.
“Rafiu did not amass wealth, go to where he sleeps here and you will see a few properties. He is someone who is far away from fraudulent activities. Nobody has his statement of account to determine the actual amount that was transferred to him, including the police. As a family, we are also investigating the issue, just as are the law enforcement agencies.
“The amount transferred was like a gift and can tempt anybody. Rafiu is an easygoing, soft-spoken person who is not a fraudster, and only God can explain the situation. But we pray to Almighty Allah to see him through this,” the BCC report added.