Pastor nabbed with stolen vehicle – I thought my N350, 000 SUV was a blessing
On a 2005 edition of Mitsubishi Pajero parked on the premises of the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters, Ikeja, was a church sticker bearing the picture of a 32-year-old Presbyterian pastor from Umuahia, Abia State, Rev. Titus Onwuchekwa. In bold letters beside the pastor’s photo on the sticker are the words “Too blessed to be cursed”.
True to those words, Onwuchekwa, who was paraded alongside two notorious stolen car dealers by the police during the week explained that he thought God had brought a blessing his way, when he bought the SUV for a mere N350,000.
Onwuchekwa was paraded with the car dealers, 32-year-old Felix Osas, who sold the vehicle and 32-year-old Ndibe Samuel.
Ordinarily, a used 2005 edition of Mitsubishi Pajero is sold for between N1.4m and N1.8m but when Osas presented himself as the seller, he told Onwuchekwa that he could give up the vehicle for N500, 000.
Onwuchekwa, who is popularly called ‘My father, my father’ in his church circles in Umuahia, said he had come to Lagos to attend a Christian programme when he sighted the 2005 Mitsubishi Pajero in Alaba area of Ojo, Lagos and he dialed the number of the seller pasted on the car.
“He gave me the price of N500, 000 but I told him that I could only afford N350, 000 and after we haggled a little, he agreed to sell the car. He said he would sow the car as a seed into my life for that amount provided I pray for him regularly.
“He said he needed regular prayers and I paid him N350, 000 with a promise that anytime he needed prayer, he could call me and I would always pray for him.”
When asked if the cheap price of the vehicle did not raise his suspicion at all during the transaction, Onwuchekwa said he believed it was indeed a blessing that had come his way.
“I even went home to share the testimony of how I bought the vehicle,” he said.
What about the vehicle particulars and the Customs papers presented to him, Onwuchekwa said they all bore the names of Osas, which was what doused every suspicion he had.
But these are not enough to exonerate Onwuchekwa who continued to maintain his innocence.
Osas explained that few weeks after Onwuchekwa bought the Pajero, he contacted him again and asked to buy a 2001 Toyota Camry for N250, 000, a vehicle which under a normal circumstance, he would have sold for at least N900, 000.
This proved to be the nail on the coffin for Rev. Onwuchekwa as the police said he must have known he was buying a stolen vehicle if he did not mind coming back for a second car despite the suspicious price of the vehicles.
Osas, who runs Happy Home Motors, was all smiles as he narrated how Onwuchekwa fell victim of his criminal trade.
“I don’t think he actually knew that he was buying a stolen vehicle. If he did not come back for more, the police would not have arrested him along with us. I don’t steal these vehicles myself.
“In fact, I don’t knew where they came from. I got them from one of my friends, who told me to re-register them in my name. When I asked him where he got them, he confided in me that they were stolen.
“I bought the Pajero I sold to the Pastor for N300, 000. I have only bought two vehicles from him before. I also bought the Camry from my friend for N300, 000. It is the same one the pastor wanted to buy for N250, 000.”
Osas said he had been selling vehicles for seven years after he realized that his initial business as a mechanic was not yielding profit as he wanted.
The young man did not show any remorse as he explained that it was the business he had been using to feed his family.
“I learnt car sales from my uncle and decided to establish a business of my own seven years ago. I actually did not set out to start selling stolen vehicles. It just happened that the prices were too cheap for me to avoid it.”
Samuel on the other hand, said he was not a stolen car dealer. He explained that he simply bought a vehicle from his in-law, which turned out to be a stolen vehicle.
“He told me that the 2001 model was fairly used and I bought it for N700, 000. All the documents bear his name, so I did not suspect it might have been stolen. I am just a medicine store owner, not a criminal,” he said.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, said the suspects would soon be charged to court.