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Robbers lay siege on filling stations in Abuja

…Victims allege police connivance

By Ben Agande, Abuja

Authorities of the Nigerian Police Force,  Federal Capital Territory Command, Abuja  are battling to resolve a pattern of crime at petrol stations along the airport road that appear to indicate that armed robbers, in collusion with policemen deployed to protect petrol stations, have found a perfect way of making money without jeopardizing the job of their police collaborators.

According to investigations by Crime Guard, armed robbers would come into a filling station where they would meet the policemen on guard sleeping, inflict non-life threatening injuries on them, snatch their guns and operate unimpeded for the night..

However, the following day when their colleagues would appear to commence investigations, they would be shocked to discover their snatched weapons which are normally AK 47 assault rifles, neatly hidden within the vicinity of the incidence.

The latest incident was the daring robbery at the Tamic filling station beside Sabon Lugbe along the airport road. Though the robbery followed the same pattern as the previous robberies, the elaborate manner with which the robbers ransacked the whole premises, took time to destroy the safe and carefully selected where to go and what to touch appears to be a pointer to insider collaboration.

Apart from gaining entry into the offices of the company through a weak link that is known only to close workers of the company, the armed robbers took time to systematically dismantle the safe where the company’s valuable documents and money were kept.

HOW IT HAPPENED
Narrating the incident to Crime Guard, Chairman of Tamic Nig. Ltd, Hon. Clement Andie said the way the robbers operated inside his office indicated that there was a deliberate and systematic planning for the robbery with possible insider collaborations.  He wondered how the bandits succeeded in prying open the safe without attracting the attention of security men who patrol the ever busy airport road.

On  how he received news of the robbery incident, Hon Andie said one of his staff, whose son, for inexplicable reasons, chose to stay at the filling station with the security men, phoned him to say that there was an armed robbery attack on the station.

Immediately, I called the Lugbe police station which had their men stationed at the filling station to inform the Divisional Police Officer. The DPO put a call through to one of the policemen who was supposed to be on duty but had disappeared without permission, leaving only one policeman behind. The police man who absconded without permission lied to the DPO that there was not robbery at my filling station. It took my insistence for the DPO to come to the filling station to confirm things for himself.   Before I commenced operations at the filling station, I wrote and obtained permission for protection from Police authorities and they posted four men to guard there.  The Policemen run shifts of twelve hours each.

On the fateful day, two policemen were supposed to be on duty from six in the evening till six the following morning when the next batch was expected to take over. However, one of the police men and incidentally the team leader, disappeared from his duty post leaving only one of the policemen alone on duty, he stated.

POLICEMAN ON DUTY REACTS
The Policeman on duty on the fateful day who was cornered by Crime Guard claimed that he dozed off while ion duty.  According to him, when he woke up, he was attacked by the armed robbers who hit his head with a rod and dragged him to a corner of the filling station where a member of the gang was positioned to keep guard over him. His rifle was collected by the armed robbers who went ahead to meticulously ransack the whole premises, took the safe outside and completely destroyed it and removed more than N3.5million which appeared to be their target for the attack.

A staff of the filling station told Crime Guard that such a huge amount of money was kept at the filling station because the Friday preceding the date of the incident was a public holiday and as such, money made from Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday sales of products could not be taken to the bank.

ôIt appears that the people knew exactly that there was money in the safe and they came for it. The way they destroyed the safe and the time it took them to systematically clean the place point to the fact that the bandits knew what they came for and how to get at it, he said.

Investigations carried out around three other filling stations along the airport road which had been robbed in the past indicated the same pattern.   A cross section of their staff were unanimous in their suspicion that either the police or some staff of the filling stations or both the police and the staff of the filling stations were in connivance with the armed robbers.

THREATS AT SARS OFFICE
When Crime Guard visited the Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Federal Capital Territory Police command, policemen on duty threatened to deal with the reporter if the story is reported.

If you don’t leave this place, we will deal with you. You journalists are always looking for trouble. This is not command (FCT Police Command Headquarters).   So if you want any information, go to the commandö a police man in mufti who was addressed as sergeant by his colleagues barked.

At the FCT Command, repeated attempts to see the Police Public Relations Officer were unsuccessful as he was said to be either busy or out of office when Crime Guard visited.

But a source informed this reporter that following the reports made by the owner of Tamic filling station, the Divisional Police officer in charge of Lugbe has been queried for not reporting the series of robbery incidence in filling stations along the airport road to the FCT command. The police officer who absconded from his duty post without informing his superiors was also detained by the police authorities pending conclusion of investigation into the matter.


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