…….what we did was obtaining not robbery, insists suspects

By Evelyn Usman

The benevolence of a lady to a stranded  young man at Surulere, Lagos has suddenly turned into  a nightmare for her.  In fact, the 33-year-old lady, Jumoke Ajiboye not only survived being strangulated by a hair‘s breath but lost about 500 US dollars, N120,000 cash,  her expensive gold chain and two phones containing vital information about her intended visit to the United kingdom.

Her ordeal started when she opted to give a male  acquaintance  a ride in her car. But while at  the verge of dropping off the man identified simply as Benson, in Orile area,  the unexpected happened.

Five stern- looking young men  sprung from nowhere,  dangling dangerous weapons . The invaders were later discovered to be hoodlums, at the end of which Jumoke claimed her expensive jewelry, 500 US dollars  including the sum of N120 Thousand which was hidden under one of the seats were stolen.

The incident happened four months ago, precisely on May 1, 2009. But today the suspected  perpetrators have been arrested by policemen attached to Festac division. Surprisingly, three of them were discovered  to be residents of the area.

Narrating her experience in the hands of the suspects and the  circumstances that led to their eventual  apprehension, the victim, Jumoke stated:, “ On the day in question, precisely on May 1, 2009, I had gone out for a show at Adeniran Ogunsanya, Surulere, where one of my cousins who is a musicians was performing. As I was  about leaving, I volunteered to give a young man named Benson a ride in my car because he said he was with over a hundred thousand and he resides in  Orile which was on my way.

“The moment I drove into  Bale street, Orile  and he alighted, I saw some guys running towards us with dangerous weapons. I asked him to come back into the car so I could move the car from there.

But before he could turn back towards me,  the guys were already  on us. One of them was struggling to switch off the ignition with me and at the same time trying to move the gear from reverse. As I put up stiff resistance,  he grabbed me by the neck, intending to cut the gold chain I had on. I almost passed out because he was choking me until he eventually  succeeded in cutting the neck lace .

“All I was after was to rescue Benson’s bag in which he had his money,  but in the process, they collected my $500 and extra N120,000 I had under my car seat .  In the process, Benson shouted, Segun! calling out to one of them.  He said , ‘So Segun, you are among those committing all these atrocities in this area?’ At that moment, Segun told his colleagues to let go of him .

But Benson insisted they should return everything they collected from us.
“And they only brought my purse in which I also had some money, with only my ATM  in it. The foreign currency and N120,000 were gone. They also brought  two phones they collected from Benson but did not bring mine. When I pleaded with Benson to insist they return  my money and phones, he assured me they would bring it.

“When I got home, I told my father about it and he called Benson on phone, asking him to tell the people to return everything they collected from me in order to prevent unpalatable situation that might implicate him. The most painful aspect was that I had information and data about my travelling to the United kingdom stored inside one of the missing phones.  About a month later I learnt Benson was arrested over an issue of fraud in his place of work and ended up spending over a month in cell.

“After his release, I continued pleading  requesting that he should prevail on Segun and his gang members to return what they collected from me . I even asked him to give me Segun’s address in order to meet his parents but he kept saying he would get back to me.

At a point, he started avoiding my calls and even when I sent him text messages, he refused to reply .  That was when I began to suspect the whole thing could have been a set up after all, since he was avoiding getting the people to return my things .

“Having waited for over three months and there was no response from his end, I decided to report the case at Festac division . I had to lie that I was arrested and needed to be bailed before Benson could come out from where he was.  That got him, as he came only to be arrested by the police, following which he took the policemen to Segun’s place” .

In this interview with Crime Alert, the arrested suspects revealed their modus operandi , with all of them begging to be given a second chance in order to amend their ugly ways .

One of them who passionately pleaded with every breath in him was Segun Ebifemi , a 25-year-old from Ondo state.   Segun who is married and is currently expecting his first offspring, swore that if he got out of this alive, he was going to stick to his carpentry job and make do with whatever he gets, be it sufficient or not,  to take care of his family.

With tears in his eyes,    Segun said, “ Please help me beg the DPO to release us. I would like to witness the arrival of my first child. My wife is due to deliver next month. But as I speak, only God knows if the little creature would ever live to see his father.

“My worst regret is that I only got just N3000. In fact , I  joined the gang once for the operation and that was four months ago. I met  members of the gang at joint where we drink, at Orile. I was not lured by anybody but just joined them because we were friends.

“On the day in question, I can not remember the precise date, we were five in number, we saw this car parked in front of Gazina, a popular spot which also serves as a guest house and we attacked the occupants. But we were not with gun as we are being accused . We were only with bottles and sticks .

“What we did was just to rush at them and collect what they had . To be truthful, what we collected was a gold necklace and a purse from the lady . The person that actually collected the money is currently in prison because he was arrested for similar offence and is in jail.

After collecting the items, we went our separate ways. The amount I got that day was N3000″.

Asked if his parents who live in the same building with him were aware he was into robbery, he replied, “ I am a carpenter Gand formerly live in our family house with my pregnant wife. I also have another house in one of my father’s building in the same Orile.  I will say that it was ojukokoro (greed) that pushed me into it.  If only I will be let off the hook, I promise to turn a new leaf and be a good father to my child”, he stated remorsefully.

On his part, 22-year-old Dominic Steven, an indigene of Ekpoma, the university town of  Edo state stated, “ We do not plan from the house to go and rob, all we do is hijack at any given opportunity.

I have never killed nor handled a gun. All we use, as Segun has said, is bottle and sticks. We don’t break into people‘s house but only operate at the early hours of the day. My share in the operation that landed me into this was just N4000″

The third suspect ,20-year-old Ugochukwu Akudike who hails from Mbaise area of Owerri, Imo state, said what they were into would not be described as robbery but obtaining.

Said he, “ What we are into can not be described as robbery. Robbery is what you sit down to plan and arm yourself to attack people. But in our case, we are all friends who drink together, smoke together and do most things together.  In the process of drinking, if anyone gets drunk and leaves his phone , we will collect it. You don’t call that robbery but obtaining”.

Asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “ I regret every part I played …..”

At that juncture, Segun went on his kneels pleading, “ Please beg them for me, I would like to see my baby in November which is when my wife will be due. We have returned everything we collected to the victim . We have even told the lady in question to give us the total estimate of whatever she claimed we stole and we will all contribute and refund it  back to her”.

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