By Ifeanyi Okolie
Following the arrest of a suspected notorious highway robber last November, operatives at the dreaded Federal Special Anti- Robbery Squad (FSARS), Adeniji Adele, Lagos were stunned listening to the startling confessions of their guest.
The robbery suspect, whose identity was given as Emmanuel Gabriel Nwaneze from Uwangele -Uwagu area of Anambra State, confessed that his decision to join an armed robbery gang was because he thought, he couldÂ make quick money that would afford him a fabulous wedding ceremony, come December 2009.
However, hopes of this 37-year-old man was dashed after his gang which have been reportedly carrying out most of the robbery attacks on the highways leading to various parts of the country met their waterloo after robbing a lot of vehicles plying Ibadan -Iworo road.Â Â The gang had dispossessed their victims of their valuables including cash before engaging the Police that arrived at the scene in a cross fire that lasted for hours.
It was learnt that as soon as the heavily armed Policemen arrived the scene, the gang took advantage of the bad state of the road and ran into the thick bush which they used as shield to exchange fire with the Police.Â However, they later took to their heels after they were over powered by the Police.Â While they were fleeing from the area, some of them were hit by police bullet, but they managed to escape with wounds.
According to Police sources, Emmanuel, who was hit on his right shoulder ran to his elder brother residing in far-away Agbor, Delta State with his wound still oozing blood.Â He reportedly told his brother that he was attacked by armed robbers on his way back from Lagos. His unsuspecting brother took him to a hospital where the resident doctor alerted the police and it was discovered that he was an armed robbery suspect.
When Crime Alert had an encounter with the suspect, he narrated how he became an armed robber and stating also that heÂ was not born an armed robber, but he joined aÂ robbery gang when pressure from his home persisted that he should get married before the end of last year.
â€œI am a trader and I sell grains at Mile 3, Port Harcourt, Rivers State but I wasnâ€™t making much money from the business. I make as little as two thousand naira on a daily basis. I cannot afford some of my basic needs.Â When pressure mounted from my parents who were in the village that I should get married, I became uncomfortable and very desperate to satisfy their wish.
They presented about seven women and I was asked to choose out of them.Â Â I chose the one whose name is Ifeoma and we all agreed that before the end of the year, I will return to perfect the necessary marriage rites.Â Â But when I got back to Port Harcourt, things became very difficulty and I was very sad.
I smoke Indian hemp and there is this joint there, a lot of smokers gather to smoke during evening hours.Â Â It was there I met one Onyekachi who spends lots ofÂ money.Â Â He buys drink for every body and he dashes lots of money to people. I became loyal to him and he was sending me on errand whenever he comes around.Â Truly I admire the way he spends money.
I also learnt that he was an armed robber, but in the ghetto, every thing goes.Â Â Â I told him of my problem and he offered to help me because I was loyal.Â After a little while, he invited me to Lagos.Â Â There we met at a smoking joint in Ajah where he introduced me to other members of his gangâ€.
Names gang members
Emmanuel who also disclosed how some of the robbery operations were planned and where they were carried out, gave the identities of his colleagues asÂ Onyekachi -the leader Emeka, Emeka Hausa,Â Paul and Okechukwu.Â Â According to him, his first operation took place some time in August last year.
â€œWe left our hide -out at Ajah some minutes past 8pm and headed for Mile 2 along Badagry Expressway.Â Â Onyekachi our leader who chose that location, took us down on his Jeep.Â Â On getting there, the first thing we did was to barricade the road with heavyÂ woods and thick rocks.Â After that, we off-loaded our weapons, two locally made pistols and four English -made guns from the truck of the jeep and Oyekachi took it out of sight.
Since I was the newest in the gang,Â Â I manned a locally- made pistol and we all went to the bush waiting for any vehicle that will fall into our trap.Â Three vehicles ran into the trap and we dispossessed them off their valuables including their hand sets and jewelries.Â Â While the operation was on, other approaching vehicles who sighted what was going on, reversed and we had no option than to leave the scene.
I made about N60, 000 from that operation and we all re-located back to our various bases.
I went back to Port Harcourt and I continued my business.Â Â Â About one month later, we had another call from Onyekachi that we should all assemble at Enugu – Onitsha Road.Â Â Immediately, I left Port- Harcourt and headed straight to a spot we had agreed to meet.
Like on every operation,Â Onyekachi provides the weapons. This time, we took advantage of the bad state of the road and we did not barricade either. What we did was that, one hour after we rendezvous ( drank beer and smoked Indian hemp) and offloaded the weapons, we took big oranges and inserted a large nail in it so that any vehicle that climbs on it would lose itâ€™s tyres.
Five vehicles including two cars fell to our traps and we robbed them of their valuables and cash.Â Â Also, a luxury bus conveying people from Lagos fell to our trap and some of the passengers were traders, and we made lots of money.Â At one point, we heard the screaming sound of police vehicles, immediately we all disappeared into the bush.Â I was given about N120, 000.00 in that operation and I returned back toÂ Port Harcourt as usual.
How he met his waterloo
The last operation which brought me down to this place was at Ibadan.Â Â Like I told you, we donâ€™t operate at areas where there are no bush and bad roads.Â Â We all got there on time.Â Â Got prepared and hid in the bush.Â Â Â When ever any vehicle comes to a halt after stepping on the planted oranges, we rush out immediately and attack the vehicle.
That operation went smoothly but I donâ€™t know how the police got informed about our operation and they raced down, this time there was no siren andÂ we were taken unawares.Â Â They opened fire when they got closer and we responded.
Their fire power was heavy and we could not contain them, so we took to our heels.Â I was shot at my right shoulders but I managed to escape with the injury. When we got to where Onyekachi parked his Jeep, we drove straight to some where in Edo state.
There we shared our loot and those of us who were wounded went to treat ourselves.
I called my brother who resides in Delta State and I lied to him that I was shot by armed robbers and he took me straight to a doctor who after giving me some painkilling drugs, contacted the police at Delta police Command who came and interrogated me and later handed me over to the FSARSâ€.
The Commissioner of police in – charge ofÂ the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad (FSARS) at Adeniji – Adele, Lagos Island, Jubril Adeniji who confirmed the story said that following the transfer of the case to the unit, intense effort has been made to intercept other members of the gang. According to him;Â â€œWe have been able to trace the leader of the gang to his house and also his shops where he trades on beds at AjahÂ in Lagos.Â We gathered that he might have gone abroad but we are currently cooperating with the international police to track him down.â€ he stated.