By Evelyn Usman
LAGOS — Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad,SARS, have arrested three persons alleged to have burgled a store in Ikeja area of Lagos last December and carted away gold jewellery worth N23 million and over N100,000 cash.
Preliminary investigation, according to the operatives, showed that the suspected mastermind, Moses Obande, allegedly applied as a guard with a fake house address and unregistered SIM card which made it difficult for him to be trailed after the crime.
Information at Vanguard’s disposal revealed that Obande was once charged for kidnap and murder. He was alleged to have kidnapped an unnamed woman alongside members of a kidnap syndicate some years ago in Sagamu area of Ogun State, collected ransom and later murdered the victim.
He was said to have worked for Mrs Ekong between October and December last year. Along the line, he reportedly contacted two other guards, Ogbulaja Ogaba and Izechukwu Ezeobi, to assist him in breaking into the jewellery store located on Unity Road, off Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way.
Why I operated alone
Obande, however, told Vanguard that he ended up carrying out the operation alone in order to get the largest share of the loot.
According to the 32-year- old father of two who hails from Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State, “I found it difficult to secure a job because I am a secondary school drop-out. So, I decided to use a fake address to apply for security job last October, where I was paid N17,000 per month. But the money was not enough to fend for my wife and two children.
“At a point, a devilish thought came into my mind to burgle my boss’ shop. I contacted two of my friends to assist and we went to buy chemicals which we poured on the wall. We left with the intention of coming back at midnight. By then the portion we poured the chemical would have weakened, thereby allowing us easy passage.
“But I did not wait for them to arrive before I broke into the shop. I went alone for two reasons: to get the largest share of the loot and to prevent a situation whereby their movement would attract people.
“I also decided to do it alone because I had earlier carried out similar burglary where I was a guard. I made away with gold chains and a cash of N108,000. I kept the cash to myself and gave 35 neck chains (gold) to Ogaba while I took the remaining to Yaba market where I sold them for N1,105,000.
“The original price was more than that. The person that bought it from me cheated me by cutting off the price tags on them. Some of them had price tags between N250,000 and N350,000. The least was N75,000.
“Ogaba told me he sold the 35 pieces I gave to him for N80,000 to one Jubril Garba. But I know he lied. But I did not argue with him. I told him that was his share.
“After the sales, I immediately moved my family to Benue State. I opened a hair dressing saloon for my wife and invested the rest in plank business. When my wife asked where I got the money from, I told her I was paid off at my place of work.
“Immediately, I destroyed the unregistered SIM card my boss was used to and started life afresh with a promise never to delve into crime again.”
I paid my siblings’ WAEC fees with the proceeds
However, eight months after the crime was committed, Obande was arrested in his home town. His arrest followed the confessional statement of one of his alleged partners in crime, Ogbulaja Ogaba.
Ogaba said: “I only got N80,000 but did not partake in the operation. Obande initially invited me to assist him burgle the gold supermarket.
“On the day in question, December 22, 2013, he later called me to meet him in a hotel where he gave me 35 pieces of jewellery to sell. I was yet to finish selling it when he called me on the phone that he was leaving Lagos for his home town.
“When I asked him about the money with me , he said I should have fun with it. I ended up using it to pay for my siblings West Africa Examinations Council ,WAEC examination fees.”
On his part, 36-year-old Izuchukwu Ezeobi also claimed not to have joined Obande in the operation but said: “My job was just to provide a buyer. I did not even collect a kobo at the end.”
The suspects, according to the Police, would be charged to court soon.