By Evelyn Usman
The unprecedented visit by operatives of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad, SARS at an abandoned company in Odogunyan, Ikorodu area of Lagos, Thursday, sent shivers down the spines of residents , over what could have warranted the visit.
Before the visit, residents had been complaining of a foul smell which pervaded the entire community.
By the time the operatives were leaving the abandoned company, residents discovered that the smell emanated from the building.
The mission of the operatives was later discovered to have been to exhume four bodies which were in their decomposing states, from a septic tank inside the abandoned company.
The corpses were discovered to be those of two Bureau-De-Change operators: Alhaji Yakubu Musa and Alhaji Hassan Umaru, who were abducted on March 14, 2019 .
The unsuspecting operators were invited by some strangers who claimed they wanted to sell 10,000 Dollars. But on arriving Trailer park Bus-Stop, Odogunyan, where the supposed transaction was to take place, they were taken to the abandoned company where they were abducted.
Thereafter, they were shot dead and their bodies dumped inside a septic tank . This was after the gang collected N1.6 million ransom from their relatives , for their release.
Meanwhile, back in the respective homes of the operators, their relatives were apprehensive over the seeming silence, as their phones were switched off.
Narrating how their bodies were discovered and the perpetrators arrested, the Lagos State Police Public relations Officer, DSP Elkana Bala, said, “ “ On March 14, 2019, at about 5.30pm, the Command received a complaint from Ikorodu area that some unidentified persons approached one Alhaji Yakubu Musa and Alhaji Hassan Umaru , both operators of Bureau de Change at Benson area, Ikorodu. The strangers informed them that they have a relation who returned from overseas and needed to sell 10,000 US Dollars.
“They initially requested that payment will be made in a Bank at Ikorodu but on getting to the Bank, the suspects moved the operators to an unknown destination and started demanding for ransom from their friends and relatives.
They said, despite paying the sum of N1. 6 million, as ransom, the abductors refused to release the victims and nothing more was heard from them, as the victims’ phones remained switched off.
“The Commissioner of Police, CP Zubairu Muazu, detailed the Commander, Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS to carry out an in depth investigation into the matter with a view of rescuing the victims and apprehending the suspects.
“Consequently, operatives from SARS Ipakodo base arrested three suspects: Oluwatosin Olanrewaju, Mayowa Olawuni , popularly called General and Babatunde Idris a.k.a Aloma. The suspects confessed to the commission of the crime and led operatives to their den at Ikorodu where they dumped the corpses in a septic tank”.
Information at Crime Guard disposal showed that payment of the N1.6 m ransom was traced to a GTB account holder, one Oluwafunke, who was subsequently arrested on March 23, 2019. Though she admitted during interrogation to have been paid N100,000 for releasing her account for the transaction, she, however, said she was unaware of the circumstances surrounding the transaction.
She mentioned one Olarewaju Oluwatosin, as the person that paid the money into her account. Consequently, 40-year-old Oluwatosin, an Osun state born, was arrested. His arrest further led to those of two suspected members of the gang identified as Mayowa Olaeuni, aka general and Babatunde Idris, 26 Other corpses recovered too
Crime Guard gathered that by the time operatives got to the abandoned company, two other corpses, identified as those of members of the Aiye confraternities were discovered to have been dumped inside the septic tank too. One of their identities was given as Terminator, a suspected leader of the Aiye cult group.
Two locally made single barrel guns with five live cartridges, one locally made gun with three ammunition, one locally made revolver pistol with three live ammunition, according to Bala, were recovered from the suspects. Also recovered were one cutlass, an axe and some charms. Investigation according to Bala, “ revealed that the suspects had at various times used the abandoned company as their den, where all their targets are killed and dumped in the septic tank.
We planned the operation in six days
In an interview with Crime Guard, one of the suspects, an Electrical Electronics graduate from the University of Ilorin, Oluwatosin, gave a startling account on how the Bureau- de-Change operators were killed.
He said, “The initial intention was never to kill them but to collect money from them. Pencil (fleeing suspected leader of the gang ) brought the suggestion of robbing the operators. Both of us planned the deal for six days. He said I should convince the operators that one of our relatives who just came back from abroad wanted to sell dollars. It was on a Thursday. They came in a bike and called us from Trailer Park bus-stop, Odogunyan. Pencil directed his personal motorbike rider to take the operators to a boys quarter around odogunyan. By the time I joined them at the boys quarters, I met the operators lying down with their hands bound. Pencil asked me to lie on the floor too, so as to make it look like I am not part of them. Pencil pretended like a thief who stormed on us. He lied that the person they( operators ) came to buy dollars from was owing him and that he and his members had come to collect the money.
“They started beating the operators. I also received my fair share of the beating to make it look real since they(operators) knew me. The operators begged Pencil to stop beating them, that they would give him money for their freedom. Pencil instructed them to transfer the money into one Femi’s account. But when he called to know if the amount had been paid, the account holder said no. “ At that point, he ( Pencil )changed the game plan.
He threatened to kill me alongside the operators if he did not receive an alert on the payment. He said he suspected I was playing pranks by asking the person at the other end not to release the money to him. He said if he did not receive the alert by 4.55pm, he would kill all of us. At that point, one of the operators suggested that another account, preferably GTB, should be given to him to transfer the amount into. That was when I contacted the nurse that treated me when I was sick. She provided her account where N1.6 million was paid into by the operators family members.
How they were killed
“By 8pm same day, Pencil and Kenneth tore the operator’s clothes, used part to cover their mouths. When I asked why, Pencil asked if I wanted to teach him his job. He burnt the operators clothes, shoes and phones and said he would kill them because they would identify me to the Police if allowed to go Scot free. Thereafter, he took one of them to a corner killed him and sent for the other. By the time he came to where I was, he said he had settled the case and threatened to kill us if anything that transpired there was heard outside. “ He detained me there till the next day, from where we went to Tamaga side, (a hotel) by 6am next day. We stayed there until 9am before he instructed me to call the woman in whose account the N1.6 million was paid. Pencil called his motorbike man to take Kenneth and me to the woman’s place where she gave us the money in three installments because she could not withdraw everything at once. I got N340,000 as my share of the loot”, he said.
His alleged partners in crime, Mayowa and Babatunde, said they got N20,000 and N50,000 respectively as their share. They however claimed that they were never part of the discussion to kidnap the operators. They said that fleeing Pencil ordered them to follow him and that they could not act otherwise because he (Pencil) was dreaded by all in the area.
They further disclosed that the two other bodies of rival cult members were shot dead by Pencil, following the lingering cult war between Aiye and Eiye confraternities.
They further added that since leader of Aiye cult group, Terminator, was killed by Pencil, he (Pencil) assumed the name , terminator.
The suspects according to the command’s spokesman, would be charged to court at the end of investigation, adding that efforts were still on to arrest other fleeing members of the gang.