By Ifeanyi Okolie
Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Sqaud, Ikeja, Lagos, have smashed a syndicate which specialized in hijacking trucks loaded with goods and selling same at give away prices, arresting four suspected members of the gang, among them a dismissed Private from the Nigerian Army.
The gang as gathered, operated in a patrol van , pretending to be Military men on patrol. They would position their patrol van at the Apapa port, waiting for their prey. And on sighting a truck leaving the Port, they would reportedly follow it and midway, hit it from the side.
But rather than admitting their fault, they would block the truck and rush out of their vehicle, claiming the truck hit their patrol van. This will be followed by intimidation and outright assault on the truck driver and his conductor. They would thereafter, bundle the truck driver and his conductor into their patrol van, pretending to be taking them to their base, only to dump them at a remote location along the Lagos/Ibadan expressway, while a member of the gang would drive the truck to their hideout, from where the goods would be transferred into another vehicle for onward sales to ready buyers.
Activities of the gang had reportedly been on for long, before it met its waterloo.
Sources at SARS told Crime Guard that information was received recently that a truck loaded with Tinplate coil,(material used for industrial cans) heading for Benin City, Edo state, was diverted from Amuwo Odofin and all the goods carted and sold to one Taureed Ayinla.
“ We gathered that Ayinla is a notorious receiver who has been on the command’s wanted list for over two years.And in some of our previous cases of hijacks,arrested suspects have mentioned his name as the receiver of all their stolen goods.
We were also informed that he owns a warehouse at Ogun state where he hides stolen goods before they are disposed off. We therefore, laid ambushed for him through one of his staff and arrested him. During interrogation, he confessed to the crime and gave us information that assisted us in arresting one Ozor and two members of his gang identified as Amechi Nnome and Bayo Gani. To our dismay, Ozor was discovered to be a dismissed soldier. He told us that he went back to hijacking after his release from prison because the business was easy and lucrative” sources at SARS said.
In an interview with 37-year-old Ozor, , he said, “ Yes, I was dismissed from the Nigerian Army in 2009. Then, I was approached by two men; Timothy and Emeka who unknown to me were robbers. They requested that I should assist them escort a trailer load of goods and I agreed but didn’t know that the goods were stolen.
When the robbers were arrested, they implicated me and I was subsequently arrested when the news reached the Army headquarters. I had only spent nine years in the Nigerian Army before I was dismissed as a Private.
“After my dismissal the Army took me to court but I later got bail but went back to the business because there was nothing I could do after I got out of prison. I was frustrated at that time.
“Along the line, I formed my own gang because the business is lucrative and we started operating on the highways”.
45 year-old Taureed Ayinla alias Alfa said he was introduced into robbery by Ozor. “I am a transporter with Dangote Cement Company. I met Sunny Ozor in 2012 and he told me he had 300 pieces of tinplates coil for sale. I brought in a trailer and sold it for N1.2m. I also received a trailer load of vegetable oil from the gang which I sold for N3 million. But I stopped receiving goods from them two years ago because I was afraid it would get me into trouble some day”.
For 30-year-old Amechi Nnome, who hails from Ebonyi, he had this to say: “ I was introduced into this by the same Emeka who introduced Ozor. I was jailed in 2010 for stealing a container.”