Following a public outcry to Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police and Commander of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT), over the menace of house to house robbery in some parts of Lagos, a special squad led by Southwest Coordinator Philip Riennewa, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), has swooped into action and arrested six suspects.
The six suspects are Mobolaji Jayiola (24), Sodiq Lawal (25), Ajiwole Opeyemi (24), Akinwumi Rilwan (25) and Abrahim Ismaila (25). Although the suspects were said to have mentioned about 20 people as the receivers of the goods they stole or looted, only one identified as Aransiola Ajibola has been arrested.
The suspects in house to house robbery were said to have been fully armed with guns and axes and would not hesitate to mow down anyone that tried to resist their orders.
The suspected receiver, Ajibola (24), an indigene of Ifelodun Local Government Area, Kwara State, who claims to hold a National Diploma in Statistics and Mathematics from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, was also said to have claimed to be in the know of 30 other receivers.
He said he went into the sordid business after he graduated from the polytechnic but remained idle for many months and life became unbearable for him. “My life changed when I met one Gbenga, a notorious receiver, who introduced me to stolen goods business,” he said.
“I specialised in receiving stolen motorcycles. There are receivers who specialise in stolen phones, gold rings, chains, laptops, vehicles and plasma TVs, among others.
“I received about 17 stolen motorcycles before I was arrested. I received four from Ibrahim a.k.a. Alfa, six from Saheed and Tunde, two from Sadiq Lawal, one from Sikiru, two from 8.0, one from Femi a.k.a. Scorpion and one from Ogonwo.
“There two types of stolen motorcycles. There are the ones they call two-face motorcycle and the one they call one-face motorcycle. Two-face motorcycle goes for between N65,000 and N70,000 while one-face goes for between N30,000 and N40,000.”
Asked whether he believed that the existence of receivers of stolen goods promotes robbery, Ajibola said he believed that without receivers, armed robbers would find it difficult to operate, saying they cannot be robbers and receivers at the same time.
He said: “I believe that some of the criminally minded and greedy receivers may be encouraging armed robbers to continue to rob for them to have market. I regret taking part in this dirty business and, believe me, I did not make up to N250,000 since I started the business.
“As I receive the goods, so I give them to those who used to buy from me. Some of them are Ibrahim Idris, about four motorcycles; Brother Bayo four; Akailu, four; Mr. Biggi, two, among others.”
Explaining his ordeal at the hands of the suspects when they paid him unexpected night visit at his residence on Mulero Street, Agege, Lagos, one of their victims, Mr. Joseph Nwanegbo, said: ”I thank God that I am still alive. You can see my head; they gave me deep cuts with their axe on that fateful day. Although I was rushed to hospital on time, it was by God’s grace that I survived.
“I have removed the bandage I was discharged with from the hospital. But if you look very well, you will still see the scar.
“I am a business man. I came back from South Africa on the night of 26th November, 2018, and in the morning, at about 2 am, being Tuesday 27th November, 2018, the armed robbers struck and inflicted this fatal wound on my head with their sharp axe.
“They were two in number. One first came into the parlour and pointed a gun at me. Cleverly, I kicked him and the gun fell down and we started wrestling. I managed to throw him down and held him on the ground but unexpectedly, the second suspect came in with axe and used it on my head.
“This made me to leave the one I was holding on the ground and they ran away. When one of my sons came out from the inner rooms, he did not see the axe wound.
“It was when he asked me to go inside and rest that he saw blood dripping down my face from my head, then he noticed the axe wound and they quickly rushed me to the hospital. I thank God for surviving the axe attack.
“Unfortunately, the hoodlums still carted away my international passport, air ticket, company cheque book, one laptop, two gold wrist watches, four booklets of international passport, two company cheque books (the naira and dollar).
“The robbers also collected three android phones and one Nokia phone. I had cash but I did not allow them to go into my wardrobe by wrestling down one of them who attempted and failed.”
In his confession, the first suspect who claimed to be the gang’s leader, Akinwumi Rilwan, said: “I am from Odeomu community, Osun State. Though I have a daughter from one woman I divorced, I am still single. I am also a painter based in Meiran, Lagos. I used to charge whoever needed my service N3,000 per.
“In order to find greener pasture in the underworld, I relocated to Mushin area of Lagos last year to steal phones at bus stops. Once I steal one or two phones per day, I am OK. I used to get like N20,000 per day. But if I didn’t finish the money in my hand, I would not go out to work, that is steal phones.
“I started house to house robbery last year. It was a gang formed by one Ire, Latin and myself. We used one locally made pistol and one axe.
“We don’t kill our victims even at the height of provocation. We only used the gun to make our victims to cooperate with us. If we used the axe, we were only trying to defend ourselves and not to kill anybody.
“In our last operation, we collected more than 50 phones and more than 10 laptops from a few houses. There were times we collected over 100 phones and we used Ghana Must Go bag to carry them, including laptops. But the receivers used to cheat us by stealing some of the phones, laptops and even dodge some of the money, telling us that they lost some in transit.
“We have standby buyers namely Segun, Femi, Gbenga and Kudus, and all are known receivers to us. The only receiver they have arrested is Aransi, who received only one motorcycle from Ibrahim Ismaila.
“I graduated into armed robbery when I met one Latin, Segun and Ire in a Ghetto in Mushin area of Lagos. They were the ones who asked me to join them.
“On the operation for which I was arrested, it was myself and Ibrahim Ismaila that police arrested together. It was the operation Ibrahim did that made the police to arrest me.
“There was a time I had my own gang, and I used to hire our operational gun at N5,000 from Gani who we met at ghetto in Mushin, Lagos.
“We normally operate in the night, at about 11pm, because it is most convenient for my gang as people would have gone to sleep at that hour, and we would not pass where we would see police.
“I had robbed more than 12 times before I was arrested by IRT operatives.
The second suspect, Ibrahim Ismaila, said: “I hail from Sango, Shaki, in Shaki West Local Government Area, Oyo State. I am a photographer based in Agege, Lagos.
“I did SS3 and later became a mobile photographer in Agege, and I used to get like N2,500 per day. I am still single. My father is in Shaki but my mother is late.
“I started house to house robbery when I came to Mushin in Lagos. A friend of mine, Yusuf Amuda, brought me to Mushin and lured me into his armed robbery gang.
“I specialised in stealing motorcycles and tricycles, gold rings and gold chains, phones and laptops. I operated in Agege, Isokoko, Sango Ota in Ogun state, Lafenea via Ota, Ayetoro. I collected about 10 motorcycles, three in Agege, four in Sango and three in Ipaja. I used to sell mine between N70,000 and N75,000, depending on how neat the motorcycle is.”
On his part, Ibrahim said he was sent to Kirikiri Medium Prison when he stole a phone in Agege but it was Elere police that arrested him and charged him to court before the court sentenced him to two months jail term. He said he did not complete the jail term because the complainant later came and withdrew the case and the court set him free.
Asked why he could not change after going to jail, he said jail does not reform a criminal in Nigeria because of the lifestyle of prison inmates where their only discussion for every day relaxation is how to become a bigger criminal because the society respects rich thieves. It is better to send convicts to the farm to feed the country instead of wasting them in prison.
“I regret joining house to house armed robbery business. If I regain my freedom I will not rob again till I die.”