I’m not a car thief, I only drove it from Abuja to Delta without dealer’s knowledge —Suspect

After his arrest for allegedly absconding with a car from an Abuja car stand, 25-year-old Meshach Isinugo a.k.a Big Shark has denied the allegation, saying that he only took the car he was test-driving to Delta State for business. Big Shark said he decided to quickly use the car when the dealer, who sat in the passenger seat during test driving, didn’t return quickly after going to get cash to buy fuel in a filling station.

The suspect said that the day after he got to Delta, the car dealer angered him by posting his picture on the internet and calling him a car thief, as well as threatening that the police were after him. He said that the dealer’s action made him to switch off his phone so that he would be unreachable before he was eventually arrested in Benin, Edo State.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Wale Abass, at a press briefing, said that before the suspect’s arrest, the command received a complaint from a car dealer in Abuja, simply identified as Rilwan, on July 3 that a vehicle, Mercedes Benz saloon car 2021 model, was stolen from his car stand by Big Shark who disguised as an intending buyer. The dealer told the police that the suspect absconded with the said vehicle during a test drive on June 30.

“Armed with available intelligence, operatives of the CP Decoy Squad stormed Ughelli town at about 0115hours (1:15am) of 3/7/2023 and recovered the said Mercedes Benz abandoned in a bush along Oteri Road by Doctors Quarters Ughelli North Local Government Area.”

It was gathered that the operatives began a manhunt for the suspect which yielded result when he was picked at a park in Benin, Edo State.

The suspect, who told the Nigerian Tribune that Big Shark was a childhood nickname that he grew up with, gave his background information: “I’m from Ughelli in Delta State, but I live in Abuja. I’m into foreign exchange and bureau de change business. I have been doing this since seven years. I started along that line when I was in secondary school. My business is at Instabul Airport, Turkey, so I used to shuttle between there and Nigeria. I started it there in 2021. I returned from Instabul in May after general elections.”

On how he got into police custody, he said: “I was arrested on July 6 for car theft after I was tracked by the police. Actually, I moved the car, from Abuja to Delta State.”

How it happened

“I didn’t steal the car, but it was not mine. What happened was that I got the owner’s contact from an online platform (name withheld). He posted the car’s picture on the platform, putting it up for sale. When I called him to indicate an interest, he told me to come for the car inspection. He was also Abuja-based and the location he invited me to was at Garki.

“I saw the car, and the intending seller put the price at N58 million. I offered to pay N30 million and he said I should test-drive it so that I would know the value of what I was pricing. He gave me the car key and sat on the passenger seat.

“When we got to a filling station, he asked me to pull over as he needed to buy fuel for the car. He told me to wait so that he would go and get some cash to buy the fuel. I waited for his return for three hours but he was nowhere to be found, and I was already causing a queue at the filling station. I called his line several times but it was switched off. It was already dusk so I drove to my residence at almost 8pm. My phone had gone flat then, so I charged it when I got home and called him again. His line was switched off.

“The following day, I drove down to Delta for a business. That same day, I saw my picture that he posted on the internet, calling me a car thief. His call also came in and he told me he had informed the police and they were tracking the car. This made me to be mad at him. It was crazy. I switched off my line known to him and started using my other line.

“My uncle saw me with the car and he asked me about it. I told him how the car came by and he got mad and slapped me. He said he would not allow me to drive the car but would report it at a police station. I ran from him because he assaulted me. I was eventually arrested in Benin, Edo State. I didn’t steal the car, I only drove it from Abuja to Delta. If I were the car dealer, I would just look for a way to get the car back. That would work.”

It was learnt that the suspect had been transferred to Abuja where the act was perpetrated.

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