By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Many were left in rude shock midweek, when the Benue State Police Command nabbed an 18-year-old Senior Secondary, SS ll, student of Saint Simon School, Ikpayonge, Gwer local government area, Arthur Aoundona, for robbery on the busy Makurdi-Aliade-Otukpo road.
The teenage suspect who was dressed in military uniform was reported to be a member of a gang that allegedly operates along the Aliade axis in full military kit. Also arrested with the teenager was a septuagenarian, who simply gave his name as Pa Moses, who also claimed to be a former civilian employee of the Nigeria Air Force. He was alleged to be the armourer and uniform supplier to the deadly gang some of whose members were arrested by the crack team of the state police command few days back.
Parading the suspects, alongside 28 others at the Command Headquarters in Makurdi, the Commissioner said, “you will recall that last week, we arrested some members of this gang while robbing innocent motorists on the Aliade-Otukpo highway. Today, we have in our net, a wanted teenage member of that gang and the man who supplies the group military uniforms and arms.
“In the course of our operations between March 28 and today, we have arrested 30 suspects from parts of the state and 13 different calibres of guns were recovered from all the suspects. We also have a record of another who was dressed in Police uniform who met his waterloo in a gun battle with our men along the Daudu-Yelwata axis. That gang has been linked to several robbery cases along the Makurdi-Lafia highway.”
Answering questions from newsmen, the teenage robbery suspect claimed he was the only child of his mother who divorced his father some years ago. He said, “I am an SS2 student of Saint Simon School, Ikpayonge, Gwer East Local Government Area. I was arrested in this uniform when I went to work.”
When asked the type of work he was engaged in, he simply said “I used to rob, it was my friend that introduced me into the business, but this is my second time and my father did not know about it.”
When asked how he got the military uniform, the teenage suspect said, “It was Baba that gave me the uniform whenever I wanted to go to work.”
On his part, the septuagenarian who spoke through an interpreter acknowledged that he gave the uniforms to the gang but added that the cloths were not meant for robbery.
Hear him, “when I gave the young men the uniforms, I cautioned them not to use it for anything that would land them in trouble. I don’t also know anything about guns.”
Meanwhile, the Police Commissioner stated that the command was still carrying out investigations into the respective cases of the suspects pending their arraignment.