By Evelyn Usman
It is no longer news that sometimes , truck drivers , particularly those conveying goods from the Apapa or Tin-can Island ports, are usually attacked by robbers and the goods diverted elsewhere and sold at give -away prices.
But what is surprising is the dexterity and doggedness exhibited by these unscrupulous persons who usually ignore threats by security agencies by a mere wave of the hand.
However, luck ran against members of one of the notorious gangs last Monday when they were rounded up afterÂ hijacking a trailer loaded with sugar at Marine bridge.Â They were arrested by policemen from Apapa division. The suspected four- man gang, as gathered, trailed the truck right from Apapa port, in a taxi cab.
The gang nearly succeeded in their operation but for the swift intervention of security operatives.Â Reports said two suspected members of the gang who were clad in police and military attires, claimed to be owners of the truck. One of them who identified himself as a Police Constable further proved his claim with an original identity card of the Force. But their evil plans backfired after they were discovered, upon interrogation, to be dismissed members of the police and military.
In this interview, the duo of Idris Oyinbo and Gideon Baba , denied knowledge that the truck was being hijacked, claiming to be acting under the instructions of one Kingsley who hired their services as escorts , to avoid harassment from security agents on the way.
Idris Oyinbo, whom investigations showed, was not only discharged from the Nigerian Army but also convicted over a case of alleged car theft told Crime Alert, â€œ A man named Kingsley called me last weekÂ to bring an officer to join me escort his goods.
That was how I called this man (pointing to his alleged partner in crime). He said we should meet at Apapa where he asked us to wait in a taxi cab until the truck leaves. Then he hurriedly came out of the Apapa ports and told us the trailer had left. He joined us in the taxi in the company of another young man and instructed that we followed the truck.
At Marine bridge, there was traffic andÂ Kingsley came down and took a motorcycle with the young man he came with and asked us to follow behind. We caught up with him where he told the truck driver to come down and instructed the man on the motorcycle with him to take over the steeringâ€.
But his claim was countered by the police who stated that the truck driver was dragged down by no other than Idris. Asked to justify the claim, Idris bent down and continued, â€œ I did not come down from the cab . I only instructed the driver to stop and come down which he did before Kingsley and the guy he came with entered the truck. I acted on the instructions of Kingsleyâ€.
A mild drama unfolded as Idris and his alleged partner in crime,Â Gideon Baba, started trading blames. While Idris maintained he only stopped the vehicle from the cab, he blamed Gideon for the resultant effect of their action, saying it was the identity Gideon showed the police that further aroused their suspicion. Gideon on the other hand, blamed Idris for what he described as â€˜show of shameâ€™, claiming he was in the know of the whole hijack , only to lure him into trouble.
According to him, â€œwhen he came to call me that a friend needed two escorts, I asked him what was involved and he said a container load of goods. But I became suspicious when on arrival at Apapa, we were asked to enter a taxi and follow the truck. Again, I kept quiet until we arrived Marine bridge.Â When the driver of the truck was asked to come down by Idris and another person took over, I asked again why that should be , only to be told that it was to disallow the driver from knowing where the goods were being taking to.
It was with that conviction that I provided my identity card , claiming to be a policeman. In actual fact, I used to be a policeman but was dismissed in 2006 following my long absence from work over an injury I sustained in a car accident. It was when we were taken to the station that I got to know that the truck was at the verge of being hijacked.
I have been doing this job of escort since I was dismissed and that is what I use to fend for my family. I have never been involved in a thing like this before â€œ, he claimed.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations officer, Mr Frank Mba, said the gangâ€™s kingpin identified as Kingsley, escaped on sighting the policemen approaching, adding that the police were still on his trail.