Police, Development Channel boss clash over extortion claims
Charles Nwabuikwu accuses Police of arresting him after he refused to give a bribe but Police say the allegations are outlandish
BUBBLES | When Development Channel (DC) director Charles Nwabuikwu Lambert was dragged to a police station and later paraded as a “con artist operating a complex grand scam” in the country, the script were predictable: he would not go down without a fight.
Not that he is down but from Kira Police Station, Nwabuikwu hit the road making several phone calls to his staffers and other associates. A day later, he addressed a news conference at Luzira during which he accused a police officer of instigating his arrest after failing to secure Shs2 million bribe to smother complaints about DC.
Adorning a snow-white gold-embroidered African garb, Nwabuikwu spoke with the confidence of a Pentecostal pastor exorcising demons in a convert. He accused Police of “blowing a minor issue out of hand” after unsuccessfully trying to extort money from his office to “sort complaints” by aggrieved drivers over nonpayment.
“It is true that there was an issue with the drivers but I personally moved in to resolve it. However, it was only yesterday [Wednesday last week] that Police wanted us to give them Shs2million to clear the matter,” the British Nigerian told journalists.
Nwabuikwu did not reveal which officer he claims sought a bribe from his office to “handle” the complaints from the drivers, which would make the claim haphazard. But even more intriguing is the evidence he provided to the media.
It is a WhatsApp screen grab of what appears to be a conversation between two parties discussing money. The ‘evidence’ is incomplete as some of the messages were deleted for all parties after they were sent. The contact is saved as “Media Guy Police”. By all accounts, it is effete and one that could be easily debunked.
And debunk Police have done with more enthusiasm than a village hunter shouting his out of their hiding. The DPC Kira Road, Michael Kasigire — who effected the brief ‘arrest’ of Nwabuikwu and members of his staff on Thursday last week — has challenged Development Channel to provide any evidence that links his officers or even himself to extortion in the matter.
“Police responded to complaints from the drivers he had hired and other persons who have invested in his company who are afraid they have been duped. These complainants were also here when we arrested Development Channel officials,” Kasigire told Crime24.
“If any of our officers tried to solicit a bribe from them, why did they have to wait until after they were arrested before making allegations of extortion?”
Challenging DC to provide evidence to back their claims, Kasigire said they should report the case to Professional Standards Unit (PSU) of Police so that the officers implicated can be investigated.
Carol Waweru, a former PA to Nwabuikwu and now one of the directors at DC, admitted to this news website that they had not reported the alleged extortion case.
She, however, said that a one Mwebesa had called them and made threats that “It’s either you pay me or I publish the story.” Waweru alleges that the police officer had turned down request for a face-to-face meeting, insisting on mobile money transaction.
The MTN mobile contact she alleges was used is registered to Samuel Mwebesa but several efforts to contact him on the said number were futile as it was not available.
But Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Luke Oweyesigire said Sunday that the allegations were outlandish although the Force would be interested in investigating any complaints were recorded of an officer breaching police standard work ethics to solicit for a bribe from Development Channel in the name of settling a case.
“All I get is also a rumour that an officer was seeking a bribe from Nwabuikwu but our stand is that if he could come out with the name or names of the persons and evidence that they sought a bribe from him, then Police is more than willing to take action because it is criminal for officers whether on duty or not to take bribes,” he said.
At the news briefing on Friday, Nwabuikwu said that all that was reported is “unbelievable” as it “brings insult to the Uganda Police whom I have known as upright in their work.”
“How you will brand an organization that began without chairs in an empty room and has invested to the point of equipping three massive buildings with over 1,000 employees as a fraudulent scam or anything of such is a massive embarrassment to the intellectual make-up of the people of Uganda,” the DC director said.
He accused Police of turning “a simple story” of drivers having issues with their contact person to “a national scandal alert.”
Development Channel, a company that coats its objective as seeking to bridge the development gap between underdeveloped and developed countries, is a private sector company with its headquarters in Kampala.
Among the marketing gimmicks of the company is asking prospective investors into their venture to buy laptops and iPads and this news website understands DC had gained the endorsement of top city personalities such as Cleopatra Koheirwe, Sheila Gashumba and comedian Salvador Idringi.
Sources say at its inception when the company engaged in aggressive marketing, it was minting hundreds of millions daily from Ugandans seeking ‘cheap iPads’ and easy monthly earnings.
However, as DC continued to build employment castles in the air and a Tower of Babel-like hope through its grand ambitions such as creating a million jobs in the next three years by opening food processing factories in Gulu and Mbarara, Police Thursday revealed that the company is just another “complex scam business that has already duped hundreds of Ugandans.”
Police said the company marketeers lure the unsuspecting victims into buying iPads known as ‘No Drop Out’ at $278 (about Shs1 million) after which the buyer fills a form and gets a profit sharing certificate. The victims are then a promised monthly payment of $100 (about Shs370,000) for the rest of their life beginning six months after receiving their profit sharing certificate.
But majority of those who ‘invest’ in the company have been lamenting about not getting any money as promised, with many more accusing the company of failing to give them the tablets they paid for.
But strangely, Nwabuikwu said the allegations were being peddled by Police.
“The biggest concern is that I’m not always in the media and that is where the problem of misinformation comes about, but from now on I’m going to fix this,” seethed Nabuikwu, whose company accounts have since been frozen as investigations into allegations that it is running a scam continues.
However, Oweyesigire said Police do not regret detaining Nabuikwu and giving the media the information because his organisation has been “acting suspiciously.”
“This man has been surviving on police bond on several occasions. This is not the first time we are handling his case,” Oweyisigyire told this website adding that several files relating to Development Channel cases being investigated by Police are with the CID headquarters in Kampala.