By Esther Onyegbula
A suspected robber identified as James Olanrewaju said to be terrorizing residents of Ijora, Yaba, and it’s environs, has been arrested by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Ikeja, Lagos.
Police sources said the suspect was arrested by men of the Ijora Police Division after a tip-off by a resident before the case was transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, for further investigation. It was gathered that the 19-year-old school drop out specialised in using his commercial motorcycle to rob people of their hard earned money and valuables, using a toy gun.
During interrogation, the 19-year-old indigene of Kwara State told Crime Alert: “The story of my life is a long tale of frustration and troubles, nothing good ever comes my way. It has been from one trouble to another. No matter how hard I try to make ends meet, nothing seems to work out for me. I am a secondary school dropout. I dropped out of school because my parents couldn’t afford the cost of further education. That same year, my father passed on. Before I was arrested, I learnt how to buy motor scrap which I convert to motor parts and re-sell.
“ I came to Lagos a few years back in search of greener pastures and I started living with a friend calledTaiwo, he lives in Oyingbo area. He then took me to a business woman who purchased a motorcycle and sold to me at higher purchase. She bought the motorcycle for N110, 000 and paid N15, 000 for the number. A few months later, I was able to pay N180, 000 for the motor bike and had started saving money to purchase another motorcycle, before Lagos state restricted the use of commercial bike operators in Lagos.
“Fashola enacted the law and banned the use of Okada and they seized my motorcycle. I had no job so, I used the N30, 000 left with me to rent a make-shift apartment in Ijora which was burnt down during a fire outbreak. As a result of the inferno that consumed the make-shift building where I was living, I had no place to stay, which was how I started living under the bridge.
“Later, I became a commercial bus driver but bad luck seems to be trailing me everywhere I went. Every day I went to work with the bus, police would arrest me, if Police officers didn’t arrest me, LASTMA or VIO offic-ials will arrest me. Every day it was one problem or the other, till the owner of the bus got tired of my predicament after the bus was seized by Police and taken to Alausa. Immediately they released the bus, he disengaged me from service and I became jobless again. Nobody agreed to give me their commercial bus, I was jobless and roaming the streets for a while before the same woman who helped me with the previous hire purchase commercial motorcycle sold another one to me.
“It was as if luck had smiled on me again. I was using the bike for commercial purposes and paying her till I encountered two passengers who boarded my bike from Idumota to Maryland. When we got to Maryland, the two passengers forcefully took the bike from me and told me that they wanted to use the bike to rob and that I should come back to Idumota to retrieve my bike. I waited at Idumota for two days but I didn’t see them, that was how the bike went missing. When I told the woman who sold the bike to me on hire purchase, she called the police who arrested me, and detained me a week. Later, she asked them to release me because I owed her N60, 000. She told me that she can’t assist me again and that my bad luck is affecting her business negatively.
“Fortunately for me, Taiwo gave me an old bike which he was using before he bought another one. He told me that the motorbike didn’t have documents because they were burnt during the fire outbreak that consumed the make-shift building. I was using the bike to work in the evenings because it didn’t have documents and I sleep under the bridge at Ijora, at night.
“ At the bridge, I met Ramoni a.k.a Agbara, a young man who introduced me into armed robbery using a fake rubber gun. In the night, I will give him a ride with my bike to Abule-Oja around UNILAG gate, where we will rob people. I have participated in three robbery operations.
“Before I started robbing, Agbara told me to sell the bike I was using to him for N20,000and tell the owner that it has been stolen, but I refused, because the funds I needed was to do my freedom so that I can start practising the job I learnt. He then stole the bike while I was sleeping. He called members of Odua Peoples Congress, OPC, to arrest me; that I am an armed robber, after I confronted him about the bike; unknown to me that he hid the fake gun where I keep my belongings under the bridge. When they searched, they found the gun and they started beating me up till I admitted that the gun was mine and then Police arrested me.
How we operate
“I have participated in about three robbery operations, I am not the owner of the gun but I accompanied him to each robbery operation. I began to rob with him after he threatened to kill me if I refused to join him.
“Apart from robbing unsuspecting victims at the bus stop, we also rob mini cold rooms in Ijora, we steal cartons of frozen chicken, turkey and fish which we sell to people at a reduced price. We go to such mini cold rooms at night and we use truck to pack cartons of frozen foods. We usually pack about five to eight cartons which we sell between N4000 to N5000 per carton and we share the loot equally,”he stated.