By Evelyn Usman & Ruth Chukwuemeka
LAGOS State Police Command has arrested three suspected members of a notorious robbery gang that have been on its wanted list, recovering five AK 47 riffles and nine magazines. The gang that specialized in operating in almost all the parts of the country, reportedly started as an eight-man gang. But two of them have reportedly been killed in separate shoot-outs.
The arrested suspects who were paraded before journalists at the Lagos State Police Command, weekend, did not mince words in revealing their separate roles in the gang. One of them, Wale Adeniyi, revealed that he was the gang’s hit man.
27-year-old Taofeek Bukola said he was the gang’s driver while 20 year-old Oladun Agemo declared himself as the gang’s armourer. Luck ran against them while returning from a herbalist’s home where they had gone to renew their charms on the penetration of bullets, before going on an operation in Ogun State.
In this interview with Crime Alert, Taoffek said he was tempted to join the gang because of his inability to get money for his mother’s medical bill. He claimed that he lost his father years back, leaving his mother to cater for him and his four siblings.
But along the line, he said his mother had a mental problem which confined her to a herbalist’s home. Since then, he said he had to cater for himself, his wife, two children and his siblings. But meeting some of the financial obligations of his mother, like buying of herbs and other things was the most tasking.
He said: “As a result of this, I would work in the bakery until 6am and then work as commercial bus driver, shuttling between Oshodi and Iyana-Ipaja. Yet I could not meet up, as I normally got N1500 to N2000 everyday, which I used to feed my family. Then three months ago, I met Akin who introduced me to the gang. My job was to drive them to the venue of the operation, wait in the car while they went in and drive immediately they came out.
“So far, I have gone on operations in Ibadan, Ogun and Akure with them. In the first operation, I was given N150,000 and in another one I was given N70,000 while in the third one I was given N100,000. The money shared at the end of each operation depended on how much we realized in the operation. We usually operated with information. We don’t just go to anybody’s house.
“On the day of our arrest, I drove them to Ado where they said they were going to renew their ‘ijaya’(charm to instill fear on their victims) and also that which will not make bullet to penetrate into them. It was on our way back to Otta that we were arrested.”
Asked where he got money to buy the vehicle, he said he got it from the sale of his mother’s family plots, regretting that he was likely going to die. When 20-year-old Oladun Agemo was approached, he simply stated that he was the gang’s armourer, and that he had never gone on any operation with them.
He said: “They only give me their guns to keep at the end of each operation. When they come to keep it, they would give me N4000 and at times N5000. The guns are owned by Akin. He is the president of the gang. I met them when they came to have their hair cut because I am a barber.”
Asked what lured him into the gang since he at least, had a means of livelihood, he kept quiet, then said: “I regret everything now. The money I got was used only to eat. I did not even use it to buy a car. My only pain is that my four-day old son may not grow up to know his father because as it is, I do not know if I will come out of this alive.”
The third suspect, Wale Adeniyi, who could barely talk owing to the excruciating pains from the bullet wounds he sustained during exchange of fire with the police, said he was the gang’s hit man.
The 28-year-old Akure born who seems to have spent longer time with the gang than his colleagues, said he was into smuggling business at the border before joining the gang. Although he did not say exactly how many lives he has wasted during operation, he only maintained he was the gang’s best hit man.
Gang’s best hit man
He said: “Whenever we were going for an operation, I was usually given a riffle first before any other person. This was because of my boldness. It was Akin, our leader who introduced me into the gang.”
At this point, he kept quiet, clinching his teeth in pains. After a while, he shook his head, signifying he could not talk again. He tried to lift up his leg where he sustained the gun shot wound but could not. After a while, he laid on the floor and said:
“I knew this day will come. But what I did not know was how soon. When it clocked one year of my joining the gang, I started thinking of leaving them and returning to my smuggling business because I was getting tired of always watching my back in fear all the time. And to think that a policeman once warned me to leave this business, oh God, it is regrettable.”
He managed to say he got N400,000 to N600,000 in some of the operations with the least amount being N100,000, adding that his greed to have more led him to his end. Efforts to further get more information from him failed as he just gave a blank stare, apparently unsure of police next move.
Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko, said the police was still carrying out a manhunt for other members of the gang. The command, he said, was taking proactive strategic measures to curb criminal activities in the state by taking the war to robbers hideouts.