We borrow guns for operation from woman selling paraga —Highway robbery suspects 

Members of an armed robbery gang which used to operate at Osu-Ife axis along the expressway have confessed that they got the two guns that they were using for operations from  one Iya Bose who was trading in alcoholic drinks and cigarettes.

They made the confession after their arrest by Osun State Police Command. They also revealed that they had two okada riders who were taking them to and from the spots  they perpetrated the criminal act.

The gang members apprehended were identified as Chibuzor Obinna (33), Igwe Chukwudi a.k.a Bishop (41), Ogbonna Destiny Monday (28) and Nwaze Eze (40), while Olamilekan Samson a.k.a Afuye (30) and Akinolu Kola (29) were the ones to take the armed robbery suspects to designated spots of operation and return to pick after they had had their way with victims.

Exhibits recovered from them included an English pistol, a locally-made double-barrel pistol, bags of new costume, jewellery, footwear, two laptop computers, and different brands of phones.

According to the police spokeswoman in Osun, SP Yemisi Opalola, who represented the Commissioner of Police, Kehinde Longe, at the briefing, the suspects usually robbed motorists along Osu-Ife highway. Their mode of operation was to congregate at their designated spot of attack after two motorcycle riders had dropped them. They were said to possess two guns for their operations and usually targeted commercial vehicles carrying goods.

Findings by the police revealed that some of the gang members based in Lagos used to come to Osun but later decided to rent rooms in Ilesa because of its proximity to the spot where they operated.

However, their cups became full recently as they gathered in the bush to launch another attack on motorists when a hunter noticed their activities within the bushy area. Acting in collaboration, the hunters, policemen from Osu Division and a vigilante group, went after the suspects, making them to flee in different directions, with one of them,  Monday, having sustained injury.

Undeterred, the police and the vigilante combed the bush but couldn’t see any of them initially. Their efforts however yielded fruits in the morning when one of the suspects, Obinna, was apprehended while trying to come out of the bush where he hid. He was found to be in possession  of the guns with which they operated.

With the arrest of Obinna, the Commissioner of Police directed the Anti-Kidnapping Squad (AKS) to take over the case for a follow up, and in less than 24 hours, three other suspects who went for the operation were arrested by the operatives. Two of them, Chukwudi a.k.a Bishop and Eze, were reportedly picked from their rooms while the third gang member was found in an uncompleted building with bullet wound on his thigh. Their accomplices, the okada riders, were also arrested.

A search of their rooms revealed some of the goods stolen from vehicles that were attacked, including bags of costume jewellery estimated at N5 million. They were said to have intercepted a bus going to Kano from which they packed the jewellery. Also, two laptops, shoes, clothes and over 20 phones were recovered from them. One of them, Loco, is said to be at large.

During interrogation,  the suspects revealed that the woman they were buying alcoholic drinks and cigarettes from, popularly called Iya Bose, was the one borrowing them the two guns they used to operate.

One of the suspects, Obinna Chibuzor, narrated his involvement thus: “I’m from Bende Local Government Area of Abia State. I›m 33 years old. I was a driver in Lagos State but started hustling by buying and selling okrika when there was no vehicle for me to drive. I started smoking hemp two years ago.”

How I joined robbery gang 

“My brother, Monday, invited me to Ilesa two months ago. We met in Lagos. He said I should come to Ikorodu and when I got there, he told me that he would take me to Ilesa for a business. When we got there, he took me to two okada riders. We also went to meet a man called Aro. After that, I was taken to Iya Bose who was selling alcoholic drinks and cigarette. We sat there to smoke and drink. When it was dusk, I was told to go and change into black attire. They took me to the bush at night. That was the first time I went with the gang. We were five — Eze, Bishop, Monday, Aro and I, and conveyed by the okada riders. The okada riders dropped us at Osu-Ife highway  and went back to Ilesa.

“We carried out our operation at about 11pm.  What we did was to stand on the road at a bad spot and stop any vehicle coming by waving our torches. Before that, we would put ourselves in strategic points so that our victims would not have the opportunity to escape. Since all of us would be in dark clothes, the drivers would think we were policemen. After stopping them, those who could see that we were not policemen would reverse in an attempt to escape but those of us hiding behind them would halt the moves. We would collect their cash and phones, as well as some of the goods in the vehicles.

“We used two guns for our operations. We got them from Iya Bose. I learnt that the guns belonged to her husband who is in prison. She would borrow us, and after the operation, we would give her her share of the proceeds. We would also give her money if we got some from our victims. In the first operation I joined, we gave her N5,000. All the gang members shared N10,000 each. We also got cartons of jewellery but we had yet to sell them.”

Second operation 

“As usual, we were taken to the operation spot by the okada riders. We changed our clothes to black and had just started putting each of us at strategic points when policemen came to attack us. We all ran in different directions. I hid in the bush till morning but fell into the hands of police operatives. They picked the guns from the bag we keep them for operation.”

Another suspect, Ebonyi-born Monday, aged 29, said that he joined the gang through one Femi, popularly called FM. According to the suspect, “I was selling used clothes (okrika) in Lagos. I grew up there. About three months ago, I saw FM at Mile 12 in Lagos where I went to sell okrika. He bought some clothes from me, telling me that he came to sell phones. He asked me to come to Ilesa to know more of him. I accepted to check him out because my wife is pregnant and I was frustrated.

“We exchanged numbers and I went to Ilesa. He took me to a filling station and dropped me and three others in a nearby bush. He gave me clothes to put on and a torch while he held a gun.

“We robbed a bus and I was given N7,000. I fled to Lagos when I heard that FM had been arrested. In June, Iya Bose called and told me that Loco and some of his gang members  were in Ilesa. I got Bishop, Eze and Obinna to follow me for more  operation. I explained my involvement and the role I was given. They accepted my invitation.

“In Ilesa, one of the okada riders, Kola, told us to change our location to Osu because FM was arrested in Ilesa where I had the first operation with the gang. Before coming back, the bike rider had been calling me for operation.  As usual, we got guns from Iya Bose and went with Loco and Aro. Bishop, Eze and Obinna went on the second bike. On the way, the bike carrying my group had an  accident, so Loco and Aro went to get another one, telling me to wait for them. However, I heard the voices of those who went ahead of us and walked to meet them. We were four.  The next I heard was gunshot. I sustained an injury on my right thigh from the gunshot. I fell in the bush and the security operatives went after others. Much later, I heard the voices of Kola and Eze. They put me on Kola’s okada and took me to Iya Bose’s house. It was there that the AKS operatives came to arrest me”

In the narration of how he joined the gang, Bishop said that he was deceived by Monday into believing that he was being taken to Ilesa for gold mining.

“Monday took me, Obinna  and Eze. The first day, Monday said there was no job to be done.  We were given N500 each to eat. The following day, we were taken to the bush at about 11pm. While on the way, I knew we were into crime. My suspicion was confirmed when one of us told me not to make myself visible to vehicles passing through the road as we were to do a risky business. There was no way I could go back at that point,” Bishop said.

He added: “After the operation, I was given N2,000 and a small chain from the boxes of jewellery we took from our victim’s vehicle. The second operation I joined failed as we started hearing gunshots. Though I escaped at that moment, I was arrested by the police the following day.”

One of the bike riders, Kola, said he was drawn to the gang by FM by deceiving him that he was into gold mining. “He told me to be taking him to the site. I did the first one and got to know that they were into armed robbery. The second time, they held on to my bike and asked me to join them. I was later given N3,000. I got N5,000 the second time. I took three gang  members to the last operation which was foiled by the police,” Kola said.

The PPRO said that the police commissioner had ordered a manhunt for fleeing suspects while those arrested would be charged to court after the completion of investigations.

Olamilekan said it was Kola who called him to be conveying gold miners to site. “I was given N5,000 the first time I went. I didn›t know they were armed robbers.”