Police nabs 5-man trans-border robbery syndicate

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A five-man trans-border robbery syndicate who specialised in snatching cars from Nigeria, refurbishing them in the neighbouring Benin Republic and bringing them back as tokunbo (fairly used) vehicles has been smashed operatives of the FIB Intelligence Response Team (FIB-IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force.

The breakthrough recorded by the security agents followed the arrest of a 23-year-old suspected member of the gang Abdulrafiu Olamilekan, following which two other members, namely Idris Adesina (26) and Suleiman Aliu (35) were also arrested. The remaining two members of the syndicate, Wandoko and Tunde Jonny a.k.a Elija, remained at large.

The gang’s nefarious activities was said to have come to the knowledge of the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, who directed the commander of FIB-IRT, Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, to fish out the suspects and prosecute them so that the people they were terrorising, particularly in the Sango-Ota and Agege axis in Ogun and Lagos states would sleep with their two eyes closed.

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IRT operatives swung into action, posing as buyers and calling Olamilekan, who was in possession of two of the gang’s stolen vehicles, and pretending to be interested in them. The moment he surfaced, they picked him up and later used him to arrest Idris Adesina and Suleiman Aliu while two other members of the gang remained at large.

Olamilekan, who described himself as an indigene of Iseyin Local Government Area, Oyo State, said: “I dropped out of school at JSS3. My father is a soldier, and when he was posted to Kaduna State, he separated from my mother and life became hard for us.

“In my first operation, we saw a man at Ojuore in Ota, Ogun State on May 5, 2021. We were five in number. He came down to open the gate to his house and we rushed towards him. The one who held the gun among us arrested him and collected his money and phone. One of our gang members also led him to the toilet and locked him there to avoid him raising the alarm before we left.

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“In another incident, we attacked the owner of a Lexus car and told him to hand over the key to Adesina. We then dragged the owner back into the car, dropped him along the way and zoomed off. The vehicle was then taken to Cotonou.

“Another car we snatched was kept with me in Nigeria, but the buyer I got for it happened to be a police officer. I sold the car for N500,000, but the police officer paid N100,000 and told me to come back for the balance.

“He arrested me when I went back to collect the balance, saying that the vehicle had an issue and somebody would come to interrogate me. That was on 14th June, 2021. That was how I was arrested.”

On his part, Adesina, who hails from Owode Local Government Area, Ogun State, said he trained as a vulcanizer.

“When I joined the gang they asked me to be the gang’s driver. We operated with one gun. When we snatched a Toyota Avensis car, someone sent us the receiver’s phone number and the receiver came and took the vehicle to Cotonou at about 12 midnight, because that was the hour you would not see any police officer on the road.

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“The Avensis was sold for N250,000 and they gave me N40,000. For the car I took to the receiver in Cotonou, they paid #250,000. When I was coming back, the receiver, Baba Ibeji, gave me four guns to give to the gang. I gave them three and kept one. I later snatched a (Toyota) Highlander and took it to Cotonou and Baba Ibeji paid #200,000.

Adesina recalled that five of them, namely Wandoko, Enife, Sadoko, Tunde Jonny a.k.a Elija and himself participated in the robbery of a hotel.

“As we entered the six-room hotel, we used our legs to pull down the doors. Unfortunately, we did not cover our faces because we did not know that there was a CCTV camera there.”