She may have been wracked by four years of torment and deception from her Nigerian boyfriend, but 35-year-old Sarah Warner has still got the fight in her.
The spunky Vasai resident has been travelling across continents to see to it that her Nigerian boyfriend is clapped behind bars, after he allegedly duped her of more than $85,000 (Rs 50 lakh), and subjected her to physical and mental violence over a sustained time.
Love lost: Sarah was employed with an aviation company as ground staff at the Mumbai airport in 2010 when she came in contact with Osas Idubor
Interpol in Nigeria, too, is hot on the trail of the accused, Osas Spencer Idubor (43), but despite a ‘red alert’ issued for his old passport, which expired on January 9, 2014, Osas gave them the slip. Currently, he is believed to be in Mumbai or Delhi, allegedly using a fake passport.
Sarah, who grew up in Dubai, and is determined to see him brought to justice, found out that he has given her and the authorities the slip by changing his passport. What’s worse, he now has got himself another unsuspecting Indian girlfriend, she says.
Sarah fears for her life, and is under tremendous stress, as she continues to get phone calls from Osas through Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP).
At the direction of the Indian High Commission in Lagos, she visited the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO), Mumbai recently to seek their assistance, but was instructed to approach the local Manikpur police station in Thane (rural), where she has already submitted a written complaint.
A drawn-out con
Sarah was employed with an international aviation company as a ground staff at the Mumbai airport in 2010 when she came in contact with Osas Idubor at a common friend’s place in Andheri. Osas told her he was an import/export businessman, and soon after, they started seeing each other.
Fighting for justice: Sarah Warner said Osas Idubor was heavily into drinking and smoking weed; not only did she give him $60,000 for the hostel construction scheme, but also bore all his sundry expenses during his stay in India; he even stole her Forex ATM card and withdrew more money. Pic/Rane Ashish
“He said that he was an undergraduate and a student unionist who had fled the repressive regime in Nigeria, which was out to kill him because of his vocal opposition to the government,” Sarah told mid-day.
“We decided to live together and he started introducing me to business plans and proposals, saying I would benefit immensely by investing money. One such proposal was that I provide money for a students hostel in Ekosodin, Benin city, Edo state, Nigeria, and that we would settle there after the hostel was ready,” she said.
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Sarah continued, “In the course of time, apart from taking care of all his expenses during his stay in India, I had given him over $60,000 for the hostel’s construction, but he had been transferring this money to the bank account of his parents, Regina and Salieu.”
On March 11, 2011, at the time Sarah was pregnant, Osas left for Nigeria on the pretext of checking up on the hostel project. On reaching there, he sent her pictures of an incomplete building and asked her for more money, which she agreed to pay.
But soon after, Osas severed contact with her, and she began suspecting that he was cheating on her. When she confronted him, he invited her to visit him in Nigeria and see for herself.
Sarah delivered her child, Nicol, on September 17, 2011, but two months later, she contracted pneumonia and jaundice and succumbed.
Out in the open
A year after her child’s death, on December 20, 2012, Sarah flew to Nigeria, hoping to meet Osas and take a look at the construction. At the airport there, Osas sent a friend to pick her up and take her to a hotel. Three days later, he met her at the hotel room, where he allegedly stole her Forex ATM card and withdrew about 7,00,000 nairas (Nigerian currency). But she came to know of it only a week later, by which time both Osas and his friend went missing.
She said, “A complaint was lodged with the local Elere police, and Osas was arrested, but released on bail after his father provided surety. Then he apologised to me for all his mistakes, so I retracted the complaint,” said Sarah.
She, however, still did not suspect that Osas and his family were cheating her with her investment: the hostel that was to be registered in her name was constructed, but in the name of Osas’ mother Regina.
When she confronted him, Osas and his parents threatened her. Regina apparently told her, “Go back home, we are black people, you are in our country. We will finish you, and you will never be able to see your brother or even return to your country.”
Sarah fights back
In a petition dated July 15, 2013 (copy with this paper) addressed to a Nigerian police commissioner (‘D’ Department FCID), Sarah’s barrister in Lagos, U D Onwuekwe Esq, complained that Osas and his parents had obtained Sarah’s money under pretence and threatened her.
Based on the complaint, the probe was handed over to Deputy Inspector of Police by the Nigerian police’s Inspector General’s office. The police substantiated Sarah’s claims and arrested Regina and Salieu, while Osas, who confessed to taking her money, was absconding.
Sarah said that during the course of investigations, the police found that Regina operated three bank accounts of which one was Zenith Bank in Nigeria. Her closing balance as on May 31, 2013 was 5,43,955 nairas, and most transactions were transfer of funds from Osas, which was, in fact, Sarah’s money.
After they paid Sarah the first installment, the duo was released on the condition that Regina would pay $5,000 to Sarah every month until the debt was cleared.
But soon after being let off, Regina stopped paying the installments. The local police then approached Interpol Nigeria, who issued a red alert against Regina and Osas.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Interpol) Michael Osho directed the Force Intelligence Bureau in Lagos to extract Osas’s mobile details. And it was found that while Regina had managed to flee to Cyprus in Europe, Osas was in India.
“I want justice. I want to see to it that Osas is arrested and put behind bars. I have lost everything because of him and he has to return my money,” Sarah firmly stated.
'Osas an email scammer'
Sarah alleged that Osas would dupe people by sending them fake emails of job opportunities, lottery and other such offers. He would use multiple SIM cards and VOIP addresses for speaking to people who would fall prey to his bogus claims meant to extract their money.
“Most Nigerians staying in Bhayander and neighbouring areas are into sending such con messages and many people in the metro fall prey to their swindling. Osas was also into heavy drinking and smoking pot. He’d often beat me up with a belt if I did not comply with his demand to speak to his “clients” (victims of email scams) in Hindi – he’d want me to do that so they wouldn’t suspect him,” Sarah said, alleging that she had suffered immense physical and mental torture at the hands of Osas.