THE Lagos State Police Command recorded success in the bid to get its grip on the lever of crime prevention crime when it arrested three young men suspected to members of the gang which unleashed terror on Lagos residents three weeks ago, killing three policemen.
The armed robbers, who were nabbed, did not stop at the Lagos operation, they went to Kwara State three days after the black Sunday, on Wednesday, September 12, to rob a first generation bank. On their way back to Lagos, they had an encounter with policemen from Oyo Command, one of which died as a result of injuries sustained during exchange of gunfire.
The robbers, upon interrogation, had revealed that their gang leader had a link in Share town where the bank was robbed, and that this made the job easier for them.
Theirs was a gang that operated in a commando style in many parts of the country. Wherever they operated, they left sorrow, tears and blood. On Sunday September 9, aside killing policemen and other Lagos residents, they succeeded in carting a huge sum of cash from a bureau-de-change and other places.
Crime Features learnt that when they got to the Share town where the bank was situated in Kwara State, they went to the police station there, and on sighting the gang, the policemen on duty took to their heels, leaving behind a policewoman who could not escape. The armed men had reportedly demanded for access to the station’s armoury but the policewoman answered them that she was new in the work and had just been posted there, so she didn’t even know the direction to the armoury.
The armed robbers were said to have proceeded to the Divisional Police Officer’s office where they met him. After introducing themselves to him, the leader was said to have asked him about the number of years left for him to serve in the police force and he replied that it remained four years. The leader had reportedly ordered that he should be killed but one of the gang members pleaded for him, saying that he should be spared, as he was only looking for what to eat. They reportedly sat with him until they finished their operation and left.
However, their joy over the success of their operation was punctured along Oyo-Ogbomoso road and in Ibadan when they had an encounter with operatives of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Oyo and mobile policemen mobilised by the State Commissioner of Police, Mr Mbu Joseph Mbu, to ambush them. At that point, it became war as the police engaged the armed robbers in a gun battle. The robbers were said to be wielding sophisticated arms and ammunition and would have overpowered the policemen but for their courage. The police suffered a casualty when one of the SARS operatives was hit on the leg and died before he got to the hospital but the armed robbers did not go scot-free also. They lost some of their men.
According to one of the police officers who was part of the battle in Oyo State, “you needed to be there to see the way these armed robbers displayed that they were battle ready and fully armed. One of them stood by their vehicle and was shooting. Anytime he emptied his AK 47 magazine which had 30 rounds of ammunition, he would just remove the magazine, drop it on the ground while another member of the gang would throw another loaded magazine to him.
“So, they were shooting almost without stopping because they had more than needed ammunition, unlike we that had 30 rounds in each magazine for each rifle.
If not that God was on our side, we could have suffered more casualty. But we were still able to send them away and also impounded one of their operational vehicles, while we heard their leader shouting to others that two of them had been hit by our men, urging them to leave.”
Miffed by the act of these armed robbers, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Mr Umar Manko, put his men to task to fish the criminals out and the efforts towards this paid off when the Officer-in-Charge of SARS, Lagos, Superintendent of Police, Abba Kyari, acting on information, led his men to the base of the robbery gang at Ilemba Hausa, Ajangbadi area, Lagos on Sunday September 23 and arrested three of the gang members named Uche Okeagbu (23), Chinonso Nwagwu (23) and Emmanuel Ezeani (23), and impounded two Volkwagen buses with registration numbers LSD 467 AR and AGL 506 XB in which a large cache of arms and ammuniton were found. There were nine AK 47 rifles, two General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG), one rocket launcher and rocket, five dynamites and detonator, 225 AK 47 magazines which were loaded, over 10,000 AK 47 live ammunition, over 200 GPMG ammunition.
Crime Features gathered that the operation was carried out at about 4p.m. on that day when the SARS men invaded the house. A police source said that intially, they didn’t know there were arms in the buses. “The armed robbers went few inches below the floor boards of the buses and constructed another floor in which they hid the arms and ammunition. They spread a carpet over it that if not for intelligence, no one would ever know that there was a compartment below the floor board.
“They confessed that when they went for the Kwara robbery, they parked the buses in the bush and transferred the arms and ammunition into the vehicles they snatched. After the operation, they returned to the bush where they shared their loot and returned their weapons to the bus. From there, they drove the snatched vehicles to some spots and abandoned them while they entered commercial vehicles back to Lagos. The buses were then moved back to Lagos by the driver and one other person, after they had loaded them with bags of cassava and groundnuts so that anyone that saw them on the way would think they were transporting farm produce,” the source added.
It was also gathered that about 13 of them operated that black Sunday in Lagos while 18 of the armed robbers went for the Kwara bank robbery. They were said to have confessed that they usually needed more hands during bank robbery, hence the increase in number of gang members.The gang leader, one Onyebuchi, is said to reside in Cotonou, Benin Republic, where he always escaped to after each operation. He was said to have received information from a link, who is an indigene of Share town where the bank was robbed in Kwara State.
Manko informed journalists that the arrested robbers were responsible for not only the September 9 robbery in Lagos but also other robberies in other states, which include Akwa-Ibom State; Diamond Bank branch in Akure, Ondo State; UBA branch in Osogbo, Osun State; GTB branch in Okene, Kogi State and Skye Bank in Auchi, Edo state.
The Lagos police boss said: “Since the black Sunday robbery incident, we made a vow that our colleagues who died must not die in vain and that wherever the criminals were, we would look for them.”
He added:” So, we put measures in place. From intelligence gathering, we found that after they did the little they did in Lagos on Sunday, they went to Kwara State and attacked a police station and a bank there and carted away a lot of money. From there, we started following them until we got the information that some of them were hiding at Ilemba Hausa in Ajangbadi. We took our time and at the appropriate time, we struck and the result is this.”
“If you see what they have here you will discover that they are prepared for the worst. One of them even told us that they normally strike whenever they want and that they could stay as long as they wanted,” the Lagos police boss said.
Chinonso, an indigene of Aba in Abia State , while speaking with Crime Features confessed to being a member of the gang that terrorised Lagos on September 9, leading to the killing of three policemen and some residents of the state in Gbagada, Ikeja, Agege, Ogba and other parts of the state. The suspects claimed to be the second-in-command of the notorious gang. He also confessed that he was introduced to robbery by Uche, who, according to him, had lied that he wanted to introduce him to a club.
He further narrated that “the following day, Uche introduced me to the leader of the gang.We went for a bank operation in Benin. The operation was successful and I was given N500,000 at the end of the operation.
The suspect, while speaking on the modus operandi of the gang, revealed that “before every operation, we would take a survey of the area, where the operation would take place. Somebody will assist us in identifying all the exit routes, if at all there is any need to escape.”
A police source at the Special Anti Robbery Squad unit of the Lagos State police command, who pleaded anonymity, while speaking with Crime Features stated that Chinonso had confessed to have taken part in the robbery at Diamond Bank, Akure; UBA, Oshogbo; GTB, Okene and Skye Bank, Auchi and that some people lost their lives in these robberies.
Another one of the arrested suspects, Uche, also claimed to have got just N2 million from the major operations he partook in with the gang. The 23-year-old armed robber confessed to have taken part in the gang’s robbery operation in Ibadan, Uyo and Kwara.
A police source however told Crime Features that investigation into the gang’s activities was still ongoing while efforts were on still on to apprehend other members of the gang.
Do you have a News tip, Story, Gossip, Article Submission, or Advertisement? Please send to: firstname.lastname@example.org