By Ifeanyi Okolie
A popular dealer on recharge cards in Ikotun area of Lagos State, Mrs. Dorcas Nzeribe, did not bargain for the fate that befell her penultimate Tuesday when she fell into the hands of a four-man robbery gang that specialize in terrorizing her colleagues.
In fact, the 32-year-old business woman narrowly escaped the attack while she was locking up the shop for the day little knowing that the bandits were preparing to strike. The moment the robbers who were lurking around the corner saw that she had thwarted their earlier plan by locking up for the day, they quickly re-strategized and decided to attack her on transit while she was on a motorbike.
Two of the hoodlums therefore double crossed her few streets away from her home in another commercial motorcycle, pulled out a gun and snatched a hand bag containing recharge cards worth N300,000 and the N250, 000 cash from the frightened woman who begged that her life should be spared.
The fear-stricken woman who was initially confused by the suddenness of the operation, later raised alarm and started crying out for help to the consternation of residents of the area and passers-bye who watched the event unfold.
But as providence would have it, the robbers, in their haste to escape from the scene, crashed into an oncoming vehicle prompting their victim to intensify her cries for help which subsequently alerted some passersby. The enraged crowd quickly rushed to the scene of the crash and succeeded in rounding up the fleeing bandits with their loot. They descended on the robbers and gave them a terrible beating before handing them over to the police.
Narrating her ugly experience to Crime Alert, Mrs. Dorcas lamented, “I did not know I was being followed by armed robbers, until I got to Bayo Street where a motorbike double crossed me and an occupant of the bike pointed gun at me.
They snatched my bag containing N300, 000 worth of recharge cards and N250, 000 of the cash I realised that day. I begged the robbers not to shoot me but I wailed when I watched them leave with my money. The moment I discovered that a vehicle has ran over them, I raised my voice. I shouted Ole! Ole! at the top of my voice, people who heard me came to my rescue and they apprehended the robbers.”
Police sources said the three suspects who were identified as Muritala Mohammed, 20, Nweze Uchenna, and Daniel Nwokeocha, were later transferred to the State Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Ikeja, Lagos, where they are currently being detained.
Sources at SARS, told Crime Alert that members of the gang have been terrorizing recharge card dealers for quite a long time and they have coordinated series of robbery activities at various outlets. The source that craved anonymity said, ” it’s a four- man gang that specialized in robbing recharge card dealers in the state and their names are Oshodi, Cab, Nweze Uchenna, and Daniel Nwokeocha.
They have a hideout at a hemp joint by the National Youth Service Corps Camp, Iyana-Ipaja, where they rendezvous and organize all their robbery activities. We have heard of their activities and have been unable to lay our hands on any of them until recently when, they attempted to rob a woman at Ikotun, but unfortunately for them, three of them got caught by some angry mob while others escaped.
“During interrogation, we were able to establish that three other members of the gang. had planned to strike at Mrs. Nzeribe’s shop at Ikotun and they coordinated themselves down to her shop. The leader of the gang, Oshodi, chartered a bike from Oshodi, but the bike rider, Muhammad, was unaware of his motive but he promised him the sum of N1000 to and fro the scene of the crime.
But luck was on the part of the woman when they struck at her shop, first they discovered she was closing for the day and when they saw her mounting on a bike, they ran after her, robbed her, but as they were about fleeing, they got caught again. We are currently trying to track other members of his gang.”
When Crime Alert spoke with Mohammed, the Okada rider, he described his fate as ‘unfortunate’ stating that he was not a member of the gang. The 20- year-old bike rider said ” I am only a victim of circumstance and I don’t know that the man who chartered me from Oshodi was an armed robber. He asked me to take him to Ikotun and that he would pay N1000.
When we arrived there, he said he would have to call his friends and when he meet them, he would pay me. But when he called and met his friends, he then asked me to follow them to where they wanted to collect some money.
I was just following their instruction until I discovered that the bike that was carrying his friend was racing so fast and when it got close to a woman carrying a bag, they double crossed her, pointed a gun at her and snatched her bag.
Immediately the man I was carrying asked me to reverse and leave the scene, but I was moving very fast and a vehicle just approached from the opposite direction and rammed into us and we all fell on the ground. While we were there, the man I was carrying escaped and I and two others were arrested and taken to the police station.”
However, a member of the gang who was riding the second bike identified as Nwokeocha pleaded for forgiveness, stating that he needed more money to establish a better business and that was why he took to robbery.
” I am new in the gang and that operation I went was my first. I knew Cab (one of their members) and I envy the kind of lavish life he lives. I usually meet them at NYSC camp and they buy smoke and drink. I thought the operation would be easy that was why I took part. I did not know I could get caught in the process. I am begging for forgives I hope I would get one,” he stated.