*Baron, robbery suspects arrested
By KINGSLEY OMONOBI
What could have been a reign of terror on residents of Abuja by a gang of dare-devil armed robbers brandishing four AK 47 military assault rifles, one SMG rifle, and several bundles of poisonous bows and arrows, was, at the weekend, averted when soldiers attached to the 177 Guards Battalion of the Guards Brigade intercepted a Volkswagen Golf salon car carrying the weapons to the FCT from Nasarawa State.
Addressing newsmen on the arrests, Public Relations Officer of the Guards Brigade, Capt. Njideka Agwu, said: “At about 21:30 hours (9.30pm), on Thursday, troops from the 177 Battalion, Keffi, deployed to Gitata in Nasarawa State, recovered arms and ammunition from the suspected armed robbers”.
It was learnt that the suspects, who had beaten several checkpoints along the way because they hid the weapons and ammunition inside the bonnet of the car, while security at the checkpoints were only interested in checking the booth, were stopped at Gitata junction by soldiers who searched the occupants, and also searched the booth of the car.
However, when the robbers realized that some of the soldiers were not satisfied and were moving towards the front of the car to open the bonnet, they ran into the bush resulting in some of the soldiers running after them. The soldiers apprehended the driver and two of the suspected robbers.
After a thorough search of the vehicle marked BJ 574 NSR, four AK 47 rifles, one sub machine gun, five AK 47 magazines each capable of carrying 30 rounds of live ammunition, one SMG magazine, 280 rounds of 7. 62mm special and 27 rounds of SMG ammunition were recovered.
Also recovered were several mobile police and regular police uniforms, United Nations Blue Berets (caps), assorted charms, GSM phones and a revolver. Some of the police uniforms recovered had such ranks as sergeants and corporals attached to them.
On interrogation by journalists, the suspects, who gave their names as Abdullahi Lawan, Abubakar Mohammed, Mohammed Ibrahim, disclosed that they hired the guns and ammunition from an alleged kingpin (one Iliya) who was traced to Kano and arrested by the Guards Brigade operatives.
The suspects alleged that they usually went to Iliya’s place in Kano to hire the guns and ammunition to carry out robbery operations to return with the proceeds and share with the suspected kingpin. They confessed to have carried out several robbery operations in parts of the North.
Asked if the activities of the group may have links with Boko Haram or the killings in Jos, Njideka said it was not impossible but noted that the suspects only confessed they were coming into Abuja to perpetrate criminal activities.
Commander, Guards Brigade, Brig-General EJ Atewe, earlier called for understanding from Nigerians over the inconveniences caused by several checkpoints as a result of the security situation facing the country, pointing out that the checks were always carried out based on intelligence reports.
Atewe said that if the soldiers that carried out the arrest were not very diligent, the hoodlums would have found their way into Abuja and “only God knows the mayhem they would have caused with such cache of arms.
“However, a combined team of 177 Guards Battalion Provost Company and 90 Intelligence detachment are combing suspected hideouts of the gang in Giyina with a view to apprehending other members of the gang”.