Crime Alert

April 19, 2015

I went into armed robbery to feed my baby, pay school fees – Nursing mother

I went  into armed robbery to feed my baby, pay school fees  – Nursing mother

Amira (second right) with fellow suspects

By Esther Onyegbula

A 32-year-old nursing mother, who was caught for alleged armed robbery in  Lagos,  has blamed her plight on the huge financial burden on her.

According to the  Lebanese woman,  who identified herself as Amira Abudallahi, “my financial responsibility and the economic situation of the country led me into armed robbery”.  “I have five kids but I am divorced.  I just had a baby.  The  baby is six months old now. Since I started working with the gang, I have made over N12 million. I used part of it to buy a car and the other to pay my children’s school fees,”  she said after being paraded by the Lagos State Police Command.

“I am not proud of myself neither am I proud of what has happened. I just hope I can make a positive change on the society.  I pray God will give me the opportunity to do so in  future. I believe no one is above mistake and I believe  God will grant me  the grace.

“ What I did was wrong, but  nobody is above mistake. It was my financial responsibility and the economic situation of the country that led me into the gang. I live in Lekki. What I do for the gang is that I talk  with prospective victims on the phone. Senator gives me the number, tells me what to say and then I call the victim. I have not built any house; I still live in a rented two-bedroom apartment in Lekki”.

Amira  was alleged to be  a member of a six-man armed robbery gang  which specialised in impersonating operatives of EFCC to rob bureau de change operators  in Abuja and Lagos.

Amira (second right) with fellow suspects

Amira (second right) with fellow suspects

Other suspects are  Princewill Eze, aka Senator Nwobodo, 55; Daniel Okpara, 30; Paul Irior, 37; Bassey Williams Ekpenyong, 39; and Royal Nwabuike, 32. They were arrested in Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja respectively.

Lagos State  Commissioner of Police,  Kayode Aderanti, while parading the suspects, said that, on February 25,  at about 5pm, he received information about a gang of armed robbers  using the  EFCC uniform  and  handcuffs to rob bureau de change operators in Abuja and Lagos of  dollars,  pounds sterling and Euro.

Aderanti subsequently asked the state Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) commander,  Abba Kyari, to launch a  manhunt. The manhunt paid off as  detectives tracked and arrested the suspected gang leader, Senator  Nwobodo,  in Ajah on February 27,  at about 4pm. His alleged  confession led to the arrest of  Amira  and other members of the gang.

Sunday Vanguard learnt that  detectives  also recovered one Bryco59 pistol with serial no 930945 with six rounds of 5.56mm live ammunition, single barrel pistol cut to size with four live cartridges, a  Toyota Highlander jeep ash colour with registration number, No LSR 110 DB,  a  Toyota  Highlander jeep maroon colour with registration number No LSR 671 DK, a  Toyota  Sienna 2012 model, with registration number JJ424CQ,  a  Toyota  Four runner with registration number KRD 449 DG, one Toyota Carmy saloon car unregistered, four million naira  cash and  13,000 US dollars  cash.

The  suspects were said to  have a complete  set  of communication system of the police  inside  a  vehicle which allowed  them  to intercept police  communications. They also reportedly had  police escort vehicles, police walkie talkie, EFCC vest used impersonate the anti-graft agencies  officials.

Suspects account

Confessing to the crime, Eze  said, “I didn’t recruit anyone of them into the gang; they all joined the gang on their own freewill because they are all adults. I am from Ikanu lGA, Enugu state. I am married with five children. I was into hospitality business before I ventured into robbery.  The senator name is an appellation. I did not hold a political position. I live in a rented apartment at VGC. I did not own the house. Some of my daughters are in school abroad.

“We have made about N15m. I have used the money to buy different property, but the police have seized them all. I bought different vehicles”.

Another member of the gang, a dismissed police officer, Paul Irior,  said: “We  were not using  guns. I was serving with CMS Mopol 2, Lagos. I built a house in Benin. I met the senator in 2014. My role was to act as policeman. I  would  wear uniform and pose with the fake EFCC officials. Any time they had a deal, they invited me. Sometimes, I got a million per operation.

“They would bring the money to us in convenient places like hotels and banks. I also run a hotel. It is about five years now that we started the deals. I was arrested by the police four years ago for a similar issue, but secured bail  by the  court.

Lagos State Police Command spokesman,  Ken Nwosu, said efforts were on to  arrest  the only gang member still at large.