By EVELYN USMAN, UJU MBANUSI & LINDA AMALU
LAGOS — Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Ikeja, Lagos have foiled an attempt by an eight-man robbery gang to smuggle two trucks of drugs worth over N20 million from May&Baker company in Oba Akran area of Ikeja.
Surprisingly, two of the suspects were discovered to be guards attached to the company.
Recovered from them were seven packs of drugged Lucozade Boost and another drugged drink which were reportedly given to other guards, in order to put them to sleep while the operation lasted.
Other items recovered were five destroyed padlocks of the warehouse from where they attempted to remove the drugs, a knife, a saw, a chisel and 84 cartons of sulphorite and taxamite drugs which they allegedly succeeded in loading inside their operational truck before they were apprehended.
Parading the suspects before newsmen at the command’s headquarters, the command’s spokesman, Ngozi Braide, said information on plan to operate at May&Baker was received by the operatives on August 24, 2013.
She said: “At 9 p.m, one of the suspects came in and cut the keys to the entrance of the company. Before then, they had connived with some of the guards and even gave them some poisoned juice to give to others who were not in the know.
“They were promised N200,000 at the end of the operation. SARS operatives waited patiently from 6 p.m till midnight when other members of the gang came in with two empty trucks. They were caught in the act. They came with two AK-47 rifles but when they discovered that SARS operatives were around, they threw the weapons inside the warehouse.
“Same time last year, same gang struck in the same company carting away same drugs.”
How we struck
One of the suspects, Olarewaju Simeon (21) stated that one James contacted him on the operation.
He said: “But I told him there was need to speak with the security men before I could get them a buyer. He later came with one of the security men who demanded N1 million. At the end, we agreed to pay the security man N200,000. So we fixed August 24 for the operation.
“He later came with two other security men who said there was need to carry others along because there were over 20 guards in that premises which houses about six companies.
“I told them not to worry that we would add Rophinal into Lucozade Boost which would make them fall asleep. That night, before we left, they informed us that the people had slept off, that we should come.
“When I went inside, I cut the keys. But later, three other people came and said I must pay N2 million because of the number of cartons I intended to carry. I agreed. But while loading, we heard sporadic gun shots. All I did was raise my hands, informing the policemen that we were not armed.
We carried out last year’s operation
“We were not armed because we never expected to have any confrontation because those who could have raised alarm were already asleep.
“We were also responsible for last year’s operation at the warehouse. That operation was successful because the guards were also involved. We were six in number and at the end of the day, I got N1 million. My share for this foiled one would have been over N1 million.”
Mild drama unfolds
A mild drama unfolded after one of the guards, Alli Salif, who denied involvement in the operation was told by Olarewaju to say the truth.
But Salif maintained that “when they drove in, they told me they were going to Gogoni company. But when I opened the gate they drove straight to May and Baker, prompting me to alert my colleagues who closed the gate,waiting for when they would be driving out so that we would check the content of the trucks.
At this point, Olarewaju interrupted: “ But you were to be paid N200,000. Why don’t you state the truth, after all we have all reached the cross roads.”
Receiver of the goods, 62-year-old Ejike Ehirim, admitted to have bought last year’s stolen drugs from the gang. He also said he was contacted to buy the current one for N4 million but said he was convinced by the gang members who claimed they were May and Baker staff.