Recently, nemesis caught up with eight members of an armed robbery gang who specialised in hijacking, diversion of trucks and breaking into warehouses in Lagos. They are currently in the protective custody of the operatives attached to the Anti-kidnapping Unit of Zone 2 Police Command Headquarters, Onikan, Lagos. Femi Ogbonnikan, during the parade of the suspects, interviewed the suspects
The common saying, ‘everyday is for the thief, one day is for the owner’, aptly captures the recent arrest in Lagos of eight members of an armed robbery gang who specialised in hijacking, diversion of trucks and breaking into warehouses.
The arrest of the eight suspects- Aniete Akonnah, Promise Friday, Happiness Promise, Obi Ebong, Silas Effiong, Monday Udoh, Ifedinachukwu Iwuola and Sumaila Umar by the operatives of the Anti – kidnapping Unit of Zone 2 Command Headquarters, Onikan, Lagos, it was learnt, was based on a tip-off.
THISDAY gathered that, following the tip-off at about 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, that the gang members had converged at a location and were planning to embark on a fresh operation within Ikotun axis, an outskirt of Lagos, the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, in-charge of Zone 2 Command, Onikan, Lagos, Alhaji Abdulmajid Ali, quickly alerted the Head, Anti – kidnapping Unit, who in turn swiftly led the officers and men to the scene and four of the suspects were apprehended, while others escaped.
Following police investigations, four others, including two of them who are receivers of stolen items, were picked up at their various hideouts.
House breaking implements such as a chisel, a cutlass, a sledge hammer and a giant scissor were recovered from the gang.
While parading the eight suspects before pressmen in his Onikan, Lagos office on Thursday, September 8, 2016, AIG Ali said the arrested men had, during interrogation, confessed to various armed robbery operations, including the attack carried out on a warehouse in Ajao Estate, opposite Eleganza Plaza, where they killed one of the security guards on duty on Saturday, May 28, 2016, and carted away aluminium sheets, cartons of tin tomatoes and reams of paper valued at the sum of N22 million.
In the same vein, the Police boss stressed that a victim of another attack reported that her warehouse, Tomez International Limited, at Alakoso, located Plot C40, Amuwo-Odofin Industrial Estate, Lagos, was burgled on Friday, August 5, 2016 and cartons of tin tomatoes were made away with.
Ali added that many of the stolen items (edible items such as cartons of Geisha, tin tomatoes and Maggi and other items like motorcycle and bicycle parts and sockets and chains) had been recovered from the arrested suspects.
Forty per cent of the stolen edible items recovered from Onitsha, Anambra State, it was further gathered, had been returned to the owner.
An informed police source hinted that, upon the arrival of the suspects at the warehouse in Ajao Estate, one of the security guards on duty and who put up stiff resistance was hacked to death with house breaking implements. Also, an empty trailer truck found within the warehouse company, it was learnt, was loaded with the consumable items and made away with, thus, making two the number of trailer trucks used for the operation.
Nemesis, it was said, caught up with one of the suspects simply identified as Ayuba, with one of the trailer trucks loaded with the consumable items in Onitsha, Anambra State where the items were being expected to be disposed of, to a would-be receiver.
Ayuba, it was said, was arrested, while the trailer truck, with its contents were recovered and returned to Lagos.
It was gathered, that two other suspects, one Sam Owens and another one simply identified as Sam, who were earlier arrested, arraigned in court and are currently serving different jail terms at Ikoyi Prison, Lagos.
Besides, One Efa and Sunny, believed to be the ring leaders of the gang, it was further learnt, are still at large.
During an encounter with the suspects, a member of the gang, Obi Ebong, confessed it was fund for the burial of his sister in the village that prodded him to take active part in the attack on the Ajao Estate warehouse where consumable items such as cartons of tin tomatoes, Geisha and Maggi were carted away.
He said he was promised a sum of N100, 000 if he could assist them in loading the consumable items into a trailer truck.
Ebong, 46-year-old, who hails from Akan, Akwa Ibom State, said his friend, Monday Udoh, who is among those arrested, invited him to partake in the operation.
“I am a refrigerator technician. I stay at No. 91, Ikotun Road, Ikotun, Lagos. I am married and blessed with two children. I partook in the raids on the two warehouses located within Ajao Estate and Amuwo Odofin Industrial Estate and I was offered N100, 000 per each trailer truck. And it was in a bid to raise fund for the burial of my sister, that I was prodded to take part in the operations when Monday approached me to join them. Sam Owens and another one, Sam are the leaders of the gang that I worked with, in both raids on the two warehouses. They duo were earlier arrested and they are now at Ikoyi Prison,” said Ebong.
Happiness Promise, who hails from Ikot-Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, and according to informed police source, is reputed to be a notorious suspect.
The mobile handset said to belong to the slain security guard at the Ajao Estate warehouse on Saturday, May 28, 2016, was allegedly found and recovered from him.
But in the confession of the 34-year-old suspect, he flayed the police statement, saying he bought the handset, an ITEL, at a sum of N5, 000 for his wife from a roadside market in Ikotun, an outskirt of Lagos.
“It was Sam Owens, who is currently serving a jail term at Ikoyi Prison. Four members (Efa, Sunny, Sam Owens and Sam) are the kingpins of the gang. Before going for the Ajao Estate warehouse operation, I was promised a sum of N50, 000 to load a trailer truck. We went for the operation and it was successful. It was later I learnt Sam Owens and Sam had been nabbed,” said the bricklayer and a father of two children.
Also, Silas Effiong (34), an aluminum fabricator, who hails from Ini, Akwa-Ibom State and Aniete Akonnah (31), an Okada operator, from Ufot, Akwa-Ibom State too, said Monday Udoh recruited them into the gang and they were promised the sum of N50, 000 each for loading a trailer truck.
Monday Udoh, 53 years old, who hails from Ikot-Ekpene, Akwa-Ibom State, admitted he recruited other members of the gang, while Efa and Sunny, who are currently at large, are the kingpins of the gang.
“I stay at No. 5, Shaki Street, Agbado, Lagos. I am married and blessed with three children. I am a chemical dealer. It was the duo, Efa and Sunny who asked me to recruit others, in order to assist us. The arrangement was to sell all the items, after which they would settle me, in order to pay off the other members I recruited. I brought one of the trucks which was used to load the tin of tomatoes, and Ayuba drove it to Onitsha for onward sales to a would-buyer in Onitsha, Anambra State”, confessed Udoh.
Ifedinachukwu Iwuola, who is the receiver of the stolen consumable items based in Onitsha, Anambra State, admitted he was at the point of receiving the items from the driver of the trailer truck, Ayuba, until the detectives from Lagos pounced on, and got him arrested.
However, the AIG vowed, that the suspects would be charged to court as soon as investigation is concluded into the matter.