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An armed robbery suspect has confessed that he took to a life of crime following an unexpected dismissal from the job he laboured to get.
When in April 2016, said a source, a group of suspects robbed some expatriates and the case was reported at Lagos Command Special Anti-robbery Squad codenamed Federal SARS and all efforts to apprehend them failed, the case was transferred to the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IGP IRT). Briefed that the gang specialised in robbing Chinese expatriates, the intelligence team moved in and recovered a stolen telephone handset.
The phone, a Tecno C8, was traced to one Sunday Onuh at the Gbagada Estate. He confessed to the robbery, but sequel to his confession, five other suspects, including two operatives from the Mobile Police (MOPOL) and a dismissed policeman were rounded up.
Onuh operated with a gang of three members that included Jack and Murphy. The latter two are at large. All three are from Benue State. Onuh also worked with another gang led by Peter Owocho, aka ‘Owie’, Emmanuel Audu, Sgt. Onuh Francis, James Momoh and Sgt. Ochigbo Gabriel.
Also involved was a police detective. The gangs were alleged to have carried out robbery operations at Gbagada, Olusosun Estate in Ojota, Lekki and Medina, Gbagada.
The police recovered two locally made pistols, an iron rod, a cutter, MOPOL cap, jackknife, tear gas spray, engineers’ over-alls as well as Sienna Space Wagon and Toyota Camry cars. The gangs, who usually wore police uniforms, operated at daytime, disclosed the police.
They would threaten the Chinese with information that they (the Chinese) possessed drugs and weapons, and when allowed access into the apartment, they would rob the expatriates.
The first suspect, Onuh, aged 33 and married with a National Diploma (ND) in Business Administration, said: “After my school, I went to work for a hotel, and I worked for two years. I went to a security firm and was posted to the UK embassy in Oregun. I worked for three years, after which I lost my job. I bought a Toyota Sienna with the money I saved and with the money, I decided to get married.
“I live at Oworoshoki area of Lagos State. It was jack who led me to crime. I met him when I was preparing for my traditional wedding. He was into the game then and I was aware. I had lost my job. After the wedding, he told me that he would introduce me to a business. He told me that we would go to Chinese men’s houses and pretend to be engineers, and if they allowed us into their house, we would rob them.
“He also told me that if they were not at home, we would cut their doors open. Jack is a ‘chairman’, and he has several groups that he works with. He took me to just two operations, one was at Omole and the other was at Gbagada. We were three that went for the operation at Omole Estate and we opened the door with a cutter.
“There was no one in the house at the time we attacked. We stole phones, laptops and cash. I don’t know how much was robbed but I was given N500, 000 cash. At the Gbagada robbery, we wore over-alls and told the expatriates we wanted to repair the light. They opened their doors for us, and we went in and robbed them of their phones, laptop and money. I got N45, 000 as my share after the operation. The locally made revolver pistol using 9mm ammunition belonged to Jack, but he gave it to me for safe-keeping.
“When I was arrested after the policemen traced a phone we robbed from Gbagada to me, I told them that my gang wasn’t the only gang doing that same job and that I know one other gang led by one Peter who is also doing that job. I bought a fairly-used Camry ‘tiny light’ and I wanted to use it as taxi before I was arrested.”
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The second suspect, Peter Owocho, 30, said: “I don’t have a paid job and I do domestic staff job most times. I have gone for robbery three times and it was one Nelly, who is from my area at Opkoku Local Government Area of Benue State, who introduced me to the gang. Nelly told me the Modus Operandi of his gang comprising fake policemen who normally went to the homes of Chinese men demanding to search their apartments on the allegation of drug trafficking.
“When they were allowed to come in, they would ransack the house and cart away valuable such as money, mobile phones, Ipads and laptops. He refused to allow me join their group. He said that he had given me the clue, and that I should go and form my own group. I got to know Francis Onuh through Nelly and he brought one Gabriel Ochigbo. Then I also contacted Emmanuel Audu, a dismissed police officer who came to me, and I told him about our plans. He brought James Momoh.
“Our first operation was at Olusosun in the Ojota area of Lagos State. First, we knocked on their door, and when they saw policemen, they opened the gate and allowed us in. The fake police officers with us told the foreigners that they suspected that they were involved in drug dealings. When they allowed us into their apartment, we searched and found three laptops, four phones and the sum of N700, 000 and $770.
“After the operation, we moved all the Chinese nationals into a room and locked them up before leaving. We shared the money among ourselves equally. I got N110, 000 and $100. The second operation was at Medina Estate, Gbagada, and when we went, we applied the same modus operandi. And we got two laptops, one Ipad and we shared N50, 000 each. The third operation was at Lekki, and we shared N25, 000 each. On June 7, 2016, James Momoh and I were apprehended. My brother called me and I was arrested.”
The third suspect, Francis Onu, 35, who claimed to be a serving policeman attached to MOPOL 23, said: “I work at the British Embassy. I am a sergeant, and I am married with three children. It was bad friends that led me to crime. I was staying with one of my late friends, Corporal Justin Igba, and he introduced me to some of his friends who normally went out to raid Chinese men with one Nelly and others. After he died, I left his house and moved to the British Embassy where I was posted to.
“In December 2015, I received a call from one Peter Owocho and he told me that one Nelly gave him my number to see me. I met him at Iyan-Oworo and he told me about the business. They also brought in one Sgt. Gabriel who is also a Mobile Policeman from Benue State. When we went for the operation, I had no gun, but I had a plastic pistol, a jackknife and tear gas. I would stand outside while the others would go inside and search the apartment.
“We normally shared our loot at Peter Oche’s house. I went out with them on three occasions before I was arrested. Getting involved in crime was a disgrace to my family.”
The fourth suspect, Sgt. Gabriel Ochigba, 32, who is married with four kids, said: “Onuh led me into the gang.”
The fifth suspect, Emmanuel Audu, 33, and a serving constable, claimed that he joined the police in 2003 and in 2009 was dismissed over illegal duty in Warri, Delta State. He said that he came to Lagos State and became a dispatch rider and did the job until last December. He was still looking for job when he met Peter and he got involved with the gang.
He also said that he lived at Ikorodu with his family, and after he got his first share of the loot, took care of his family with it and paid his children’s school fees. He confessed that he took part in all the operations but was arrested on June 7, 2015 when the police came and arrested him.
The sixth suspect, James Momoh, 18, said: “My dad is asthmatic. I lost my job where I was working with a man as a private driver. I borrowed money from someone to treat my dad.”
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