It was the end of road for three suspected members of a robbery gang, which specialised in snatching exotic vehicles from women in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
The suspected robbers were arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team(IRT).
The trio , identified as Ego Ike, Obinna Igwe and Adamu Nuhu, were arrested at their hideout in Abuja and Kaduna State, after they robbed a female staff of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) of her vehicle, while she was returning home from work.
The suspects were said to have taken the vehicle, a 2016 Toyota Corolla, to Katsina State, before it was smuggled into Niger Republic.
Nigerien policemen, however, accosted the gang and impounded the vehicle, while a member of the gang identified simply as Yellow, was arrested as Ike, Igwe and Nuhu, escaped back into the country.
The owner of the car was said to have reported to the police, following which the Inspector General of Police asked the IRT to fish out the bandits for diligent prosecution.
Some victims of the gang provided information that aided the operatives in apprehending three members of the gang, leaving behind the ring leader, identified simply as Linus, who is still at large.
On interrogation, the suspects explained that they targeted women because women can’t put up stiff resistance like men. The suspects also disclosed that most of the vehicles they robbed were mainly Toyota products because of the huge demand for it in the market.
Ike, 30, was quoted as saying that he took to crime because he lost all his life savings to gambling.
He said: “ I am a native of Anambra State and I went into crime because I lost the N6 million I was using to run my clothing business to gambling. I am a primary school dropout. I was formerly a spare parts dealer at the Ladipo market, Lagos, but I moved to Abuja in search of greener pasture and when I couldn’t find my bearing, I pressured my father to sell his only land in the village and he sent me to Istanbul Turkey, with the money. I stayed in Istanbul for three years; I worked and saved close to N6 million. Then I started importing clothes into Nigeria. I was supplying several shops around Abuja and Lagos State, but in 2016, one of my friends introduced me to a sport betting game and I lost all my money.
‘’My resident permits in Istanbul expired and I had no money to renew it. I became frustrated and I met Linus in one of my brother’s houses in Jai area of Abuja and we became friends. He introduced me to an armed robbery gang which had Obinna and Yellow as members and we stole a Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Vehicle from a woman who was driving into her house in Shafar Road, Abuja,and we took the car to Kaduna.
‘’We gave the car to Nuhu, and he offered to pay N200,000. We also accosted another woman in Buhari area of Abuja. Another woman driving a Toyota Matrix and stopped in front of a shop to buy something; we approached her, snatched the car from her and took it to Kaduna.
‘’We were paid N270,000 for the car. We didn’t know that the woman who owned the Toyota Matrix works with the Federal Road Safety Corps. The third car we stole was also from a woman who was driving a Toyota Corolla car at Kado Estate in Abuja. We used Yellow’s car to collect the woman’s car. We blocked the woman’s car with Yellow’s car and collected it from the woman. We took the car that night to Niger Republic, but at the Katsina border, Linus and I came down from the car, took a bike and crossed into the country, while Yellow and a man, who I don’t know, took the car into Niger Republic but the Nigerien police stopped them and arrested them. We targeted women because we don’t use guns and women are an easy catch and most of them are not security conscious. We target Toyota cars because they are easy to sell and the demand for it is on the high side.”
Confessing, Nuhu, 19, a native of Kaduna State, said: “I attended only primary education. I was 17-year-old when I started stealingvcars. There is this man known as ‘MD’, who I met when I was selling phones in Kaduna State. ’MD’ is one of my customers who normally buys phones from me and there was this time 2017, when I was attacked by armed robbers and all my phones were stolen and I was stranded.
‘’I approached ‘MD’ to assist me because he was always having money and ‘MD’ told me that since I know how to drive, I will be useful to his company. He did not tell me what his company does, rather, ‘MD’ started giving me cars to deliver for him to several states and he was paying between N30,000 to N40,000.
‘’He (‘MD’) gave me a master key and showed me how to use it. The first car I stole with the master key was a Toyota Carina and I sold the car in a market in Tuniga Maji, along Kaduna Abuja Expressway. I took the car to Kaduna and gave it to one Mohammed Garuba and he bought it from me for N120, 000. Later, ‘MD’ called me and asked me to meet one Yellow and asked me to collect a vehicle from him, but the vehicle had an engine problem then and we contacted Garuba who bought it for N180,000.
He added: ‘’Then I stole three other Toyota Camry cars from the market at Tuniga Maji area along the Kaduna Abuja Expressway and sold the three Toyota Camry cars for N420,000 to one Alhaji in Sokoto State.
‘MD’ also gave me four Toyota Corolla cars to deliver to one Abdul, who is a middle man between car thieves in Nigeria and receivers in Niger Republicepublic. Later in September 2018, Yellow introduced me to his own gang members, who were operating mainly in Abuja with guns, and one of them known as Linus, though he is yet to be arrested, called me and said he was coming with some of his brothers from Benue State who were armed with AK47 rifles and they wanted to carry out a robbery operation in that state but they didn’t know the terrain.
‘’I asked Ego, who was also their gang member, to call me, while I was waiting for them, the police showed up and I was arrested.”