By Ifeanyi Okolie
Do you accept sachet or bottle water offered by unknown passengers in a commercial bus? Then, you must be careful as some robbery gang have devised this method to rob unsuspecting passengers.
This discovery is coming on the heels of the arrest of five members of a notorious robbery gang by operatives of the Special Anti-robbery Squad, SARS, of the Lagos State Police Command. The gang specialized in drugging unsuspecting passengers in commercial buses before dispossessing them of their valuables,
Unlike their other partners who use their vehicles to perpetrate the heinous crime, the arrested suspects as gathered, would board commercial buses and position themselves strategically to actualize their devilish act.
Their modus oparandi include trailing their targets either from the bank, or public places, right into a commercial bus.
Information at Crime Guard disposal revealed that seven members of the gang would board same bus with their target while another would pose as a sachet water hawker. Unknown to their target the sachet water have all been sedated. One of them would then pretend to buy a sachet water from their gang(hawker), offering N20 note, only to be told there is no N10 note for his balance. Pretending to be nice, the buyer would take another sachet water and offer to their target, with the explanation that he did not want his money to be left with the hawker. And immediately their target drinks the water, he would fall asleep and in the process, have his valuables dispossessed of.
But the gang met its waterloo after a foiled attempt to sedate one of its victims in Ikeja area of the state recently. Consequently, three members of the gang were apprehended.
A Police source at SARS said “We have been on their trail for two weeks now. We got information that the same gang had robbed someone on his way from Ikeja to Yaba and the case was reported at Sabo police station. Driver of that bus and his conductor were initially accused of conniving with the robbers but after proper investigation, they were released with stern instructions to be on the look-out for members of the gang.
Unfortunately for the gang, they boarded the same bus last week Tuesday and the bus conductor who was vigilant noticed them and raised alarm. They were about seven but three of them were arrested while four others escaped. But during interrogation those arrested provided information that aided the arrest of two others. We are currently making effort to apprehend the gang leader who is currently at large”. He explained.
I joined the gang because I was not making money from my phone business-suspect
One of the suspects, 24-year-old Chibuike Mbakwe, a native of Orlu, Imo state, said he joined the gang because he wasn’t making enough money from his phone business.
Hear him: “I came toLagosin 2003 after completing secondary school . I went into phone accessories trade at Alaba International market where I met Chioma, the gang’s leader. He introduced me into this crime and in the process I abandoned my trade.
I don’t know how Chioma picks his targets but he always had one. On the day of our arrest, the man Chioma had targeted was carrying a paper bag with him which we concluded contained money. We were six in number including the pure water seller . So far, I have gone on operation with Chioma five times”.
We dissolve 15 talin (sedative)into a sachet water
Asked what was the name of the sedative drug, he said, “ it is called talin. Fifteen tablets are dissolved in one sachet. This will make our target sleep for three hours. I have no idea how the drug is procured or where it is packaged into the water. But the water is usually brought to the park for the gang member to sell by Chioma.
My role is simply to get into the same bus and cover up Chioma’s activities, so no one would suspect us”
Asked whether any of their victims had died in the process, he shook his head: “ No, the drug is not harmful. I have mistakenly taken a drugged sachet water and had to be taken home by my colleagues. I woke up after 3 hours”
For 24-year-old Ifeanyi Okeke, a native of Anambra State who plays the role of the hawker, he has this to say: “ I came to Lagos in 2007 to work as a houseboy for my brother but went back to the village shortly after his shop was demolished at Oshodi by the the Lagos state Task force.
I returned toLagosin 2011 and went into smuggling of rice and other food items between Seme border and Iyana- Iba. I met the gang about a month ago when they attempted to rob a victim in a bus I was working as a conductor. When I attempted to raise alarm, the gang leader Chioma, signaled to me to keep quiet and gave me his phone number, promising to compensate me. I did and he gave me N500. We later met at a designated place where he talked me into joining his gang and assigned me to be hawking for the gang.
Before boarding any bus, Chioma would call me to meet him somewhere and would give me the bag of the already drugged sachet water to sell. All I have received since I joined them is just two visa phones and N8000.
I regret joining the gang because Chioma has been cheating me since I joined. More painful, is the fact that the money I realised from the business is poor compared to what I was getting as a bus conductor.” He lamented.
I operated between Cotonou and Togo – Eze
However, 35 -year- old, Chidi Eze, a native of Ihiala, Anambra state and also a trader at Alaba International market, confessed to have resigned from the crime long ago. But his brother, Tochukwu who apparently took over, implecated him during investigation.”I was formerly into this bussiness but stopped after I was arrested, charged to court and served a jail term at Kirikiri prison. One Goddy who resides inCotonouintroduced me into it.. Then, we operated fromCotonoutoTogo, using Indian powder. For my participation, I was paid 7000 Cepha which is equivalent to N2000. After that, we operated at Okokomaiko , CMS and Mile 2 routes. We were arrested at Abeokuta last year after Goddy and I tried to rob a passenger”