IGP, Mohammed Abubakar
Nearly two weeks after robbers went on the rampage in Lagos, killing seven persons, including three policemen, the long arms of the law have caught up with those suspected of masterminding the raid.
Four of the suspects believed to have either assisted the success of the robbery or aware of the robbery plot have been arrested. Unconfirmed reports said two of the arrested suspects are serving policemen.
Two of the suspects, Rasheed Suleiman and Kazeem Enifolabi, who were paraded before journalists Tuesday in Lagos, were alleged to have connived with the armed gang whose members are currently at large.
A source also told THISDAY that two policemen whose identities were not disclosed were fingered in the robbery.
According to the source, a thorough investigation had to be carried out because of the manner the robbers carried out the operation and escaped. He said: “With the way the suspects were evading arrest, it was only proper we looked inward to look for leaks.”
While another source could not confirm the arrest of the policemen, he said the inward search made sense because the manner of escape of the robbers showed that they were aware of every movement of the police.
He said the police were shocked at the mockery the robbers made of the security agents. According to him, no organisation is without bad eggs, and as such, the bad eggs within the force will be flushed out.
THISDAY gathered that the suspects were arrested following a tip-off to the police, prompting the Officer-in-Charge of the State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Abba Kyari, a Superintendent of Police, to follow up on the lead.
Preliminary investigations first led to the arrest of Suleiman at Dopemu, a Lagos suburb, and upon interrogation, he confessed knowing the armed gang, but insisted that he was only informed of the robbery after it had been carried out.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Suleiman who described himself as a “phone thief”, gave details of the operational pattern of the armed gang.
He said: “I was arrested because I know Yemi Boss (the gang leader). He was the one that robbed on Sunday but I did not follow them. He only called me on Monday to tell me that they robbed several places the previous day. He then sent me recharge card of N3,000 so that I would keep shut.”
Suleiman revealed that the gang had been known to operate in either military or police uniform. He said: “We use different uniforms in carrying out our operations. It could be either of the security agencies’ uniforms.”
Recalling how he met the gang leader, he said they met at a joint and a relationship developed from there. “He just saw me and liked me but for that particular operation, I did not go with them,” he said.
Confirming the arrests, the state’s Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the suspects were arrested based on a tip-off received by Kyari.
Braide neither denied nor confirmed the involvement of two policemen in the robbery.
She said: “I cannot confirm this story. I don’t even know what you are talking about. If you say a police source gave you the information, why not quote the police source and leave me out of it?”
Narrating how the two suspects were arrested, she said: “On September 12, based on a tip-off received by the OC SARS, men of SARS swooped into action where one Rasheed Suleiman was arrested at Dopemu area.
“He (Suleiman) later led SARS detectives to arrest one Kazeem Enifolabi also known as Oshomo at Oshodi. They both confessed knowing the members of the gang of armed robbers in question.”
Braide regretted that the robbery claimed the lives of innocent civilians as well as three police officers.
She said: “Although the suspects admitted that they were in the know of the robbery, they insisted that they were only informed by the fleeing gang after the said act was committed.”
On why the other gang members had not been arrested, Braide said information revealed that the gang members had fled to Benin Republic and some others to Kwara State.
She added that Suleiman further took SARS detectives to Wahabi Street, Akerele area of Agege, where the gang member’s vehicle, a white Honda Civic saloon car, was recovered together with two AK47 rifles, four magazines and 200 rounds of ammunition.
Also speaking on plans to catch the fleeing members of the gang, she said security measures had been put in place to arrest the other members, adding that, “the general public should be rest assured that the suspects would soon be arrested going by the dedication of the investigative team.”
The armed robbers had on September 9 launched multiple attacks on several parts of the Lagos metropolis, robbing some bureau de change operators at Gbagada area of the city. Seven persons, including three policemen, were killed in the incident.
The Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, had chided the Lagos State Police Command for “sleeping,” thus allowing the robbers to literally seize Lagos for over five hours without any of them arrested.
“You are greatly challenged now. You must wake up from your slumber. There is no doubt that some of you are sleeping,” he had said.