By Ifeanyi Okolie
Operatives at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS Ikeja Lagos, have arrested two brothers and their friend for sending a threat message to a proprietress of a school in Igando area of Lagos, pretending to have been hired to kill her.
Their journey to the SARS cell began last month after the proprietress (names withheld) received a call and was told by the caller that his gang had been paid to eliminate her. Immediately the 65-year-old proprietress was shocked, wondering why anyone could be after her life. Before she could recover from the shock, the line went dead.
Two days later, Crime Guard gathered that the strange caller dialed the proprietress number again, requesting for N150,000 if she wanted her life spared. Calling their bluff, the sexagenarian went about her normal business, only to be thrown off guard when a warning letter was pasted at the school gate given her a deadline for the payment.
The suspects according to police sources met their waterloo after the case was reported to the m.
“They sent an account number to the elderly woman to pay N200,000 into if she wanted to stay alive. When she refused to pay, they pasted threat letters on the school gate and school bus , threatening to kidnap some of her pupils for failing to pay in the amount.
The frightened woman who felt that any attempt to pay a dime to the gang would open a floodgate of extortion, quickly reported the matter to the police and the Officer-in-Charge of SARS, Abba Kyari, mobilized a team of operatives who were immediately deployed in search for the suspects.
Interestingly,leader of the gang, Jude Uwaje, was tricked to a church where he was supposed to secure a job and he was arrested. He also assisted the operatives in apprehending his younger brother David and their friend, Philemon who took part in the crime”, the source narrated.
Continuing, Police sources said:“the Lagos State Police Command have received several compliants of unknown persons sending threat massages to rich people that they had been paid to kill them. They further demand for money depending on their victims’ status if they want their lives spared. Following these complaints, the CP, Umar Manko directed the SARS and all Divisional Police Officers to be on their toes and nip activities of these unscrupulous individuals in the bud”, police sources stated.
Joblessness pushed us into it
Surprisingly, the suspects were discovered to be living in the same vicinity with the proprietress and during this interview with Crime Guard, the trio blamed their criminal indulgence on joblessness,stating that they had no intention to carry out the threat but were only out for the money.
Jude,25, said: “ We all live in one room apartment with my wife and child, and we are jobless. My wife has been the one fending for the family. We have tried all we could to secure a job to no avail.
Also,my rent expired and my landlord threatened to evict us if I didn’t pay. I begged friends to lend me but none obliged.
When the threat from my landlord persisted, I felt there would be no where else to go if my family and property were thrown out, than the village. It was this situation that brought about the idea of threatening owner of the school. Since we share a common fence with the school,we got the proprietress’ number from a poster in front of the school gate . We called her and asked her to call us back but she didn’t.
We later called her and informed that some one had paid us to kill her. Immediately we said that, she begged us not to kill her that she is a God-fearing woman and that it was God that made us call her.We told her we called to inform her because we knew she was a good woman. We said the only solution would be to kill the person that sent us and to do that, she would have to pay us N200,000. At the end of the day we settled for N150,000, because we intended to use part of it to pay for the rent and the rest for our well being.
She cooperated initially and even asked how she could send the money and I gave her my sister’s account number in Delta State, without her knowledge because I thought it would be difficult to trace the account. After waiting without any response from her Philemon and I wrote threat letters and pasted some on the school gate and school bus.
Some days later, we received a call from a man who identified himself as a police officer and threatened to arrest us for harassing the woman. At that point, I became afraid and decided to stop. But I did not know how the police managed to find out that my brother David is a drummer in a church. But a female church member of his called to say he should come to the church quickly that someone needed his services. He was not home and I decided to go on his behalf so as not to miss the opportunity. When I got there , I met the lady and she introduced me to a pastor who turned out to be a police officer.
I have told the police all I know . We are not criminals. We were not armed. We only ventured into it because we had no job. If given a second chance, I swear , we will turn a new leaf”, Jude stated amidst tears.