By Evelyn Usman
Surprise could best describe the expression on the faces of most people on sighting a fair complexioned lady among seven other suspected members of a notorious gang of trans-border robbers last week.
The lady who later identified herself as Nkiru Igboatu, could pass for a decent damsel, owing to her calm disposition and pretty looks. Nkiru had looked forward to celebrating her 20th birthday, come October 5, in grand style with her fiancé, Amaechi Obinna . But little did she realise fate had another bargain for her.
Nkiru, according to the Police, was an accomplice in the robbery saga that threw the entire Krake, a village in the Republic of Benin, into pandemonium last week. She was reportedly arrested by the villagers who combed the nooks and crannies of the village for members of the robbery gang who abandoned their operational vehicle when it became apparent that policemen from Seme and Badagry divisions were swooping down on them.
However, in a chat with Vanguard Metro, she denied knowing anything about the robbery, or played any role in it. Rather, she said her boy friend of two years whom she planned tying the nuptial knot with next year, was discovered to be a suspected member of the gang, a discovery she claimed to still find difficult to comprehend.
According to the student of Toronto Nursing School in the South Eastern part of the country, she only arrived Lagos last month where she put up with her fiance in the Iyana-Ipaja area of Lagos.
Narrating the circumstance that led to her arrest, she said: “ I have known Obinna for two years now. We met in Anambra, where he told me he was living in Lagos. Last year, he asked me to come and visit him in Lagos but I refused because he had no accommodation. He later called to say he had got an accommodation and I came down late last year.
“When I went back to Anambra to continue with my nursing school, I realised I was pregnant and kept the pregnancy because he told me he would marry me and we were looking forward to having our wedding next year. Unfortunately I lost the pregnancy when it was six months and called him on the phone to inform him. From there he asked me to come to Lagos and rest and I obeyed”.
Nkiru, reportedly, had everything going on well for her: a beautiful self-contained apartment and a brand new Kia Picanto which her fiancé bought for her. But the seeming pleasure of her stay turned sour following a call that fateful day.
She continued: “ I was at home last week Monday, when my phone rang and my fiancé called me to come pick him from Badagry, that he was returning from the market. I told him I did not know Badagry because I do not know my way in Lagos. He then gave me a number of one Peter to call, saying the person would bring me to where he was. I called the person and he described how to get to where he was. So, I picked the car and headed for the direction, where I met Peter waiting by the road side for me. By then it was around 7.30pm.
“As he was taking me to where my fiancé was, some of the villagers stopped us and started speaking in Yoruba dialect which I do not understand. Before I knew it, they took me to their village head who brought out my fiance from where he was kept and asked if I knew him and I said yes. We were all, thereafter, handed over to the Police from whom I got to know that my fiancé was a member of a robbery gang. I never knew he was into robbery, he only told me he had a shop at Alaba market and I have been to his shop several times”.
His 32-year-old finace, Obinna Amaechi, corroborated her claim. As he narrated his role in the robbery operation, Nkiru kept shaking her head in surprise. But the shocker was when he revealed that he used part of the money he realised from an earlier robbery operation in far away Kogi State to buy the Kia Picanto car which she cruises around with. This, he said, was in demonstration of his love for her and his intention of having her be the mother of his children.
Hear Obinna:“Even if I die today, I will never implicate my fiancee. She was just a victim of circumstance. We had carried out the operation successfully . But we had to spend one night inside the bush to enable the dust settle and shared the loot, out of which I got N500,000. It was while on our way back to Nigeria that some policemen stopped our vehicle and asked us all to come down. I did not know what got into one of our members, as he opened fire on the policemen and at the same time zoomed off.
That sparked off an unexpected reaction from the policemen, as they gave us a hot chase, in the process of which we abandoned the operation vehicle and everyone had to go his separate way.
‘Please let my fiancee go; she’s no robber’
“I had to wander round the village until evening before calling my fiancé to come and pick me.
But I did not tell her the police were after me. I wanted to use her as a cover up so that the police would not link me with the robbery incident. But because I did not know the terrain in the village, I did not know how to find my way out. But I guess the end had come for me because some of the villagers arrested me when I could not explain where I was coming from. Then I could not call my girl friend to return back”
Asked how long he had been into robbery , he replied, “ I joined last year”. Giving account of one of the operations, he said: “Early this year, members of my gang went to a market in Kogi State to raid, at the end of which I got over a million naira from the operation. I used part of the money to rent an apartment and also bought a car for my fiancee”.
On why they took the operation outside the country, he said: “We stopped operating in Lagos because of the rate our men were being killed by the police . As for this operation in Benin Republic, it was due to the information at our disposal”. He pleaded that his girl friend be allowed to go scot free, saying she never knew anything about the robbery.