The 25-year-old man, Meshach Isinugo a.k.a Big Shark, who allegedly absconded with N55m Mercedes Benz SUV during a test drive in Abuja, has denied being a car thief, saying he only drove it to Delta State without the owner's knowledge.
Delta State Police Command arrested the suspect in Benin City, Edo State while the stolen car was recovered from a bush along Oteri Road in Ughelli North.
Spokesperson of the command, DSP Bright Edafe, stated that the suspect specialises in stealing cars while posing as an intending buyer.
According to the suspect, 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 at a filling station.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, 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 claimed that the dealer’s action made him switch off his phone so that he would be unreachable before he was eventually arrested in Benin, Edo State.
“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 for seven years. I started along that line when I was in secondary school. My business is at Istanbul Airport, Turkey, so I used to shuttle between there and Nigeria. I started it there in 2021. I returned from Instabul in May after the general elections,” he said.
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.
"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 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 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,” he added.