By OLA AJAYI, IBADAN
An unsuspecting womanizer would easily fall into their traps seeing their feminine faces made-up with cosmetics, with weave-on hairdo that dangles on both sides of their broad shoulders.
Their coated lips look inviting. No doubt, countless men must have fallen prey to them. Many passersby who thronged the state headquarters of the Police command at Eleiyele, Ibadan to catch a glimpse of these attractive “women” could not hide their disbelief.
Though, their chests were flat which should convince doubting Thomases that the suspects were not women, some still insisted on seeing their private parts due to their looks.
But, behind these deceptive looks are more than meets the ordinary eye. The hearts of both Omooba Oyewole and Lawal Kabir are fortified with cold steel. They are suspected dare-devil robbers. If they have conscience, it must be made of solid concrete.
One of the suspects, Lawal Kabir whose eyelids blink momentarily like a doll in the old Kingsway Store claims to be a devout Muslim and considers only Fridays and the Ramadan period as sacred days in the whole year when he thinks he should not engage in armed robbery.
These days, especially Fridays, he said, he would go to the mosque to pray to God to forgive all his criminal tendencies only to continue his devilish acts thereafter. In fact, the suspect said he was arrested on Friday after observing the Jumat prayers.
Given their looks, one needed no soothsayer to discern that the suspects had carried out numerous deadly attacks on their victims even though they admitted to have participated in no fewer than four successful robbery operations.
According to them, they had made people cry in places like Osun, Sawmill, Iyana-Agbala and other places when they unleashed terror on them. Knowing their days of reckoning had finally come, the eight-man gang confessed some of the crimes they had committed to Crime Alert.
Ayodele Olaitan, who wore a mask, one of the tools they use in their nefarious activities shook his head in regret and said: “It was my friends that pushed me into this. I joined the gang sometime ago and I have participated in at least three robbery operations.
I am not the owner of the mask you see on me. It belongs to one of us called pastor. He is dead now. I regret all my actions. I didn’t realize we could be caught. But, now the game is up, “ he said as he burst into tears.
Like other criminals, Lawal Kabir said he was pushed into the criminal world as a result of an unsuccessful business venture. “I took to robbery when my plumbing work was not booming.
Three years after my freedom as an apprentice, I tried all I could to make both ends meet, but things did not work for me. I first stayed in Lagos before I later came to Ibadan where I was introduced to a gang of armed robbers. I have participated in four armed robbery attacks.
I went with them to Osun State, Ibadan, Sawmill and Iyana -Agbala. I was arrested on Friday after I finished praying in the mosque. Somebody we call a pastor, also a member of the gang called me without knowing the police had already arrested him.
I don’t rob on Fridays and during Ramadan. I used those periods to pray to God to forgive me my sins. I know what I was doing was wrong but it was difficult for me to break away from it.”
Another member of the gang, Biola Alaba who wore a weave-on hairdo said they were eight in number and that they were arrested at a drinking joint while preparing to carry out a robbery operation at Bodija area of the city. He denied ever killing any of their victims.
“How can I commit two sins at the same time. I cannot rob and kill at the same time. It is unfair to rob someone of his belongings and kill him. We don’t even rape our victims, “ he said.
As for Sunday Omooba from Ogbomoso who says he is a member of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, he narrated how he took charge of the armoury for the gang. “I helped them get bullets through one man. I just call the man any time I need bullets for the gang.
I don’t rob with them. In fact, I did not know that they were using the bullets to rob. I also supplied that pump action gun to them. I bought the gun for N70,000 from a friend. If I knew that they would use the weapons for robbery, I would not give them.”
The Investigating Police Officer in charge of the case alleged that Omooba supplied the pump action gun and killed the owner of the gun so that he could get the gun from him and did not give the money he promised to give him.
Other suspects who are car snatchers including those who bought the stolen vehicles from them were also arrested in Kaduna and Kano. Two of the suspects, Dolapo Olayinka and Yusuf Ibrahim, robber and accomplice respectively; gave their own accounts. Olayinka said he only used his commercial motorcycle to convey the robbers who dispossessed people of their items. He recalled how they crossed a woman’s vehicle and took N20,000 from her at gun point.
The owners of the stolen vehicles were at the police command to identify their vehicles. All of them pleaded anonymity for fear of being attacked by yet-to-be-identified members of the gang.
One of them said his car, a Toyota Camry, was snatched at gunpoint on October 1, last year around 8pm and he reported at the Special Anti robbery squad.
He specifically commended the efforts of one SP Sola Aremu, the O/C SARS, Ogbomoso and his boys for going ahead to recover the car. He said: “I am full of thanks to the police. I never thought I could recover my car again. The SARS in Ogbomoso acted promptly. I have never seen police work like that.”
The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Indabawa said, “sequel to tip-offs about a criminal hideout at a mechanic village, Iyana Church, Ibadan, a raid was organized and SARS operatives arrested the following suspected armed robbers: Olaitan Ayodele, Abiola Alaba, Oyewole Ogunwole, Adedeji Mustapha, Omooba Oyewole and Adedeji Mustapha. On interrogation, they all confessed to their past and present crimes within and outside Oyo State. They also confessed to have attacked and robbed two police officers.
All the people they confessed to have robbed were contacted and they corroborated their confessions.
In order to recover some of their loot as well as arms and ammunition, a search was conducted in the house of the leader of the gang, one Ayodele Olaitan along Airport Road, Ibadan and the following exhibits were recovered; one pump action gun, one English cut-to-size double barrel gun, one single-barrel gun, locally made cylinders and many others.