By OLA AJAYI, IBADAN
FIVE notorious criminals who were granted amnesty in 2011 for committing atrocities ranging from stealing, armed robbery and murder and consequently given the opportunity to re-integrate into the society were recently, rounded up by the Police in Oyo State for terrorizing residents of Ibadan and its environs.
The alleged criminals: Lukman Rafiu, Benjamin Ojo, Adebayo Adeniyi, Wasiu Adegoke and Muniru Adigun were paraded by the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, AIG, Tambari Yabo Mohammed at Police headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan last Tuesday. The Police boss regretted that instead of the suspects to appreciate the extension of mercy granted to them through the amnesty, they formed alliance and later became more notorious than they were when incarcerated.
He said the exploits of the robbery gang dated back to their prison days.
Granting of amnesty
Mohammed said: “The five-man alliance started shortly after they were granted amnesty and released from prison and thereafter, it has been terror for Ibadan residents and environs. The suspects were arrested by police officers from Idi-Aro Division following a tip-off.
The five notorious criminals were responsible for various robbery incidents at Timdan supermarket, Airport road, Ibadan, a shop at testing ground area, Iwo road, Sherrif petrol filling station at Alakia road, Ibadan, an Alfa shop at Iwo road and several other robberies which they confessed to.”
AIG Mohammed said that the legal bottlenecks have not really helped matters. He was embittered that when criminals are arrested and taken to courts, it is the court that releases them and the accused would end up causing more harm in the society.
“Segun Kehinde and Lukman Rafiu were earlier charged to court for murder in 2007, but were granted amnesty and released in 2011, while Benjamin Ojo and Muniru Adigun were charged to court for robbery but were also released in an unclear circumstances in 2011.
Segun Kehinde was also charged to court for burglary and stealing and was released in 2011. They all met in prison and regrouped after their release to form a formidable armed gang. On their arrest, four locally-made cut to size single barrel guns and six cartridges were recovered from them.”
When speaking with Crime Alert, one of the suspects, Lukman Muniru who said he neither smokes Indian hemp nor cigarette, asked this correspondent: “Have I not spoilt the name of my family? Ah, I have spoilt the name of my family already. What will people who see me on television or newspaper be saying?
What led me to this inglorious and disgraceful act? We used to steal generators before we graduated into robbery. I always hired motorcycle and used it to carry members of my gang. At times, I would get N20,000, N15,000 and at times N5,000. I am a generator mechanic. It is when I don’t have any work to do that I go into robbery.”
Police sources hinted that though the suspect had earlier proved difficult but when he saw the policeman who had earlier interrogated him he opened up.
The suspect further revealed how they always stole generators while working. “I have lost the count of generators we stole. There was a time we stole about 25 new generators from a shop. If a generator is working, we can steal it before the owner knows anything. We would carefully extend the cable to where our motorcycle is parked and then suddenly cut the wire and speed off.”
The leader of the gang who gave his name as Niyi Adebayo initially denied going out with the gang but later confessed that he was the one holding gun at a filling station at Adegbayi where they robbed. When asked how much his gang made, he said he did not know but confessed that he was given N15, 000 and at another time, N15,000.
The police boss added that other suspects were at one time or the other arrested but let off the hook by the court. He also narrated how two notorious robbers operating on a motorcycle popularly called ‘okada’ attacked and robbed one Lebanese, Fariz Fawaz of his Blackberry bold-3 phone, valued at N80,000, adding: “Corporal John Balogun of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, who witnessed the incident pursued and arrested one of the robbers on the ‘okada’ used while the other escaped.”
The arrested suspect, one Mutiu Wahab a.k.a. ‘Eba’ led a team of SARS operatives to Beere area where the second suspect, one Sulaimon Yusuf was arrested. He too led the policemen to Oke-Ado area where the stolen blackberry phone was recovered.