…No, you’ve been on our wanted list—Police
By Ifeanyi Okolie
A 37-year-old suspected member of a notorious robbery gang, Philip Rome has been having difficulty convincing operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, that he was a first- time robber.
Rome was arrested recently by the IRT operatives, in Ugor Community in Ugheli South Local Government Area of Delta State alongside two other members of his gang; Saturday Isegini and Oke David, following an intelligence report detailing how members of the gang have carried out several armed robbery and kidnapping operations across Delta State.
Two locally made short guns, seven live cartridges and a robbed Volkswagen Golf 3 car, were recovered from Rome and members of his gang at the time of their arrest.
Rome, who was released few months ago from the Warri Prisons, however pleaded during interrogations that the robbery operation that led to his arrest was the first and only robbery operation he had undertaken with the gang.
He stated that one of his friends Eseletu, who he said he met at the Warri Prison, lured him into joining the gang adding that he was arrested after his first operation where the Volkswagen Golf 3 car, N500,000 and mobile phones were robbed
But a source at the IRT disclosed to Saturday Vanguard that Rome was not a first time offender as he claimed stating that he alongside his gang members were on the wanted list of the Delta State Police Command and the Department of State Security, DSS, following their heinous criminal activities.
The source said following intelligence report received by the office of the Inspector General of Police, a crack team of operatives was swiftly deployed to Delta State to trail and apprehend members of the gang.
According to the source; “The three suspects and others at large were notorious armed robbers and kidnappers who had been terrorizing Uhgeli, Patani, Warri and Sapele areas of Delat State. They have been involved in series of armed robberies and kidnappings, they are not first offenders, some members of their syndicate are still in prison.
They are among criminals on the wanted list of the police for kidnapping and armed robbery in Delta State and we were deployed to this state to arrest them. We caught them while they were planning another robbery operation. We tracked and arrested them after they have successfully robbed a man of his Golf 3 wagon car and a lady passenger from whom they took some cash and other valuables.
They took the vehicle to Kokori where it was hidden with the intention of using it for kidnapping and armed robbery the next day before they were arrested. The car, two locally made short guns and seven live cartridges were recovered from them”, the source stated
When Vanguard interviewed Rome, he said he got into crime following his inability to secure a job after he lost his security guard job in Portharcourt, Rivers State.
In his confession, Rome who is from Ugheli South, Local Government Area of Delta State said; “I have a four year old child, I was formerly working with a security company which secured a security contract from Intel Logistics Port Harcourt, where I was deployed to and worked for over five years earning N32,000 monthly.
But I was sacked on December 2012. When my father died, I took permission to attend his burial but I stayed longer than the period I was given and I was sacked. After I was sacked, I went back home, I had no job and I had a friend residing in Ugor community, Ugheli who I visited and while I was there some people brought a vehicle to him but when they left, the police showed up and arrested three of us. We were charged to court as car snatchers. While I was in Warri Prison, I developed friendship with one Eseletu, I don’t know what brought him to prison but we became friends.
I spent eight months in prison but before I left the prison I gave him my contact. When he came out he called me on phone and asked me to meet him in Warri where he asked me to join him in armed robbery. Eseletu then called and asked me to meet him in Ugheli where he introduced me to Saturday Isegini and Oke David who were his gang members and he wanted four of us to go for a robbery operation. He brought out two locally made guns and said we would stop at Agbara junction while pretending that we were going to Warri.
He flagged down a vehicle which we entered with our bag containing the guns. A woman then entered the vehicle and when we got to a point we robbed the woman and snatched the vehicle from the driver. Eseletu took the vehicle to his uncle’s house in Kokori where we all slept and agreed that we were going to use the car to rob a supermarket the following day. But when Oke was arrested, he led the police to arrest Saturday and I but Eseletu escaped because his people informed him that the police were looking for him .
On his part, 36-year-old Saturday Isegini, who is a primary four drop-out and a taxi driver confessed during his interview that he was one of the gang’s drivers. He told Vanguard that the leader of the gang, Eseletu who was on the run invited him to join the gang when he was looking for money to buy a vehicle which he could use as taxi.
He said, “I dropped out of school at Primary four, I am from Afiseri Community, Ugheli South Local Government area of Delta State. I am a cab driver and operate along Ugheli to Bayelasa State, I make close to N8000 daily, but my vehicle got spoilt and the owner said he didn’t have money to fix it. I then went to a ghetto along Patani Road where they sold Indian hemp.
Each time I got there I would see Eseletu spending money and he used to buy Indian hemp for me. He later urged me to join his gang after I told him that I needed money to buy a vehicle.
I joined him in one of his operations and we robbed a vehicle from a man. I drove the vehicle to Eseletu’s uncle’s house in Kokori and we were plaining to use the vehicle for another robbery when the police came and arrested me. I regret getting involved in crime, I hope the police will show mercy on me”, he pleaded.