Crime Alert

November 4, 2015

End of road for one chance swindlers in Aba

End of road for one chance swindlers in Aba

The Suspects

By Ugochukwu Alaribe

For those who thought that ‘one chance’ robbery incidents take place only in Lagos, this is an eye-opener. Members of a three-man gang who specialized in swindling unsuspecting traders and business people going to the Ariaria International Market and Alaoji Motor Spare Parts Markets, Aba, Abia State, met their waterloo, penultimate Thursday when they were nabbed by soldiers in the city.

The Suspects

The Suspects

Crime Alert gathered that the gang operated between Osisioma Ngwa Motor Park to Ariaria Junction on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway where they trailed traders and individuals going to the two markets, particularly those who prefer boarding cabs along the expressway to using the motor park.

The gangsters, Udo Mba, an indigene of Amavo-Ukwu, Osisioma Ngwa LGA, Ifeanyi Enwereji of Obuda Village, Aba South LGA, and Phillip Nwulu of Rivers State, were arrested when one of the female victims they were alleged to have swindled identified them and raised alarm which alerted passers-by who swiftly went after them.

Recovered from the gang were a blue coloured Peugeot 504 car with registration number Oyo AA 851 EGB, suspected fake US dollar bills and other items.

Nemesis

Crime Alert gathered that members of the gang who were already waiting for their would-be prey,  on sighting the girl drove off, but luck, however, ran against them when their car ran into a ditch on the expressway.

According to sources, before the gang could get out of their car to escape, a mob caught up with them and was trying about to lynch them when a group of soldiers of the 144 Battalion stationed at Ngwa High School, Aba, stormed the scene and rescued them.

Victim’s account

Speaking with Crime Alert, the victim who simply gave her name as Miss Chidinma, a cosmetics dealer at the Umuahia Main Market, said she came to Aba to buy goods at the Ariaria International Market and boarded a taxi at Osisioma Ngwa Junction, where she fell victim to the gang who swindled her of N15,000 and other items.

Her story: “It was about last month when I came to Aba to buy goods at the Ariaria International Market. When our bus stopped at Osisioma Junction, I entered their car because I was in a hurry and wanted to shop as fast as I could and return to Umuahia before evening.

“The driver drove off with a male passenger and later picked another woman on the road. I didn’t suspect anything. We got to a point where the woman brought out dollars and waved it at my face. At a point, I lost consciousness and didn’t know what I was doing but I can remember they said that I should give them money to buy chemical which they would use to produce more money.

“I declined but later told them that I had N15,000 on me. After that, they promised to pay me back the money. The two male passengers who I suspected were members of the syndicate, left and the woman later left leaving me alone in a particular place that I can’t remember. This is how I lost N15,000 to them. A good Samaritan helped me back to Umuahia because I had no money left with me.”

How they were caught

Luck, however, ran out of the swindlers when Chidinma returned to Aba, penultimate Thursday and met the gangsters at the same spot she boarded their cab at Osisioma Ngwa Junction on the expressway She continued: “Armed with the ugly experience I had the last time at Osisioma Ngwa Junction, I was on my way to Ariaria Market to make purchases.

Immediately I alighted from the bus at Osisioma Ngwa Junction, I saw them (gang) at the same place where I entered their car on that fateful day and immediately they saw me, they drove off, but I started shouting and people who were around pursued and caught up with them.

After the crowd beat them to a pulp, they even confessed to the crime and pleaded for pardon, promising to turn a new leaf if they were granted pardon.” Crime Alert investigations revealed that there has been an upsurge in ‘one chance’ swindlers along the expressway, where commuters are being dispossessed of their money and other items. The ‘one chance’ business is said to thrive mostly during the ‘ember’ months when there are many commuters on the road.

According to a bus driver plying the Osisioma Ngwa Junction–Alaoji flyover route, Uchenna Williams, “most of the victims of the ‘one chance’ swindlers have been traders and individuals who are always in a hurry to get to their destination by boarding cabs on the expressway.

“Many people have fallen victim to this ‘one chance’ taxi drivers along this expressway. We have always warned them to board cabs or buses at the motor parks, but they seem to always be in a hurry. Many of the victims have been heartbroken after they were swindled by the gang. People should be careful of the type of vehicles they board because we are now in ‘ember’ months when the swindlers and other criminals thrive.”

Commanding Officer of the 144 Battalion, Lt. Col. Kasim Umar Sidi, could not be reached at the time of filing this report, but a soldier at the unit said the suspects have confessed to the crime and would soon be handed over to the Police.