By Onozure Dania
LAGOS—A 25-year-old suspected robber, arrested alongside his girlfriend, has said the gun found on him was bought in an attempt to upgrade from phone stealing to armed robbery.
Policemen attached to Mushin Division of Lagos State Police Command arrested the two suspected members of a robbery gang that specialised in terrorising residents of Ikotun and Igando areas of Lagos, recovering a double-barrelled shotgun from them.
During preliminary investigation, the suspects, Matthew Omisogun, 25, and Yetunde Lawanson, 28, were discovered to be lovers.
They were arrested by a team of policemen on patrol, led by Inspector Atipi Agasa, along Olorunsogo Bus Stop, Mushin, over the weekend, while leaving a hotel.
The lovers, who were on a motorbike, were reportedly ordered to stop by the patrol team but they refused, leading to a pursuit, during which they were accosted, searched and the gun found in the lady’s bag.
During interrogation, Omisogun, a fashion designer, who resides at 200 hectares, Onigbongbon, in Ogun State, disclosed that his gang’s targets were commuters making calls at Bus Stops around Ikotun and Igando.
Revealing the gang’s modus oparandi, Omisogun said: “We are four in the gang. We snatch phones from unsuspecting passers-by. Whenever we see anyone making calls, one of us would pick a quarrel with him or her, accusing him/her of stepping on us.
“From there, it would degenerate into a fight. At that point, other members of our gang will pretend to be intervening, only to steal the victim’s phone.
“I joined the gang last month and I have only operated thrice. I don’t live in Lagos, but only come when there is operation and then go back to Ogun State, next day. I stay with my friend, Ola, at Ikotun, anytime I come to Lagos.
“He introduced me to the gang. Other members are Ifeanyi and Ilasa. We operate at Igando and Ikotun. We don’t have any particular type of phone in mind to steal. We usually sold the stolen phones to ready buyers.”
Asked if the gang used the gun found in his girlfriend’s possession, Omisogun, responded: “Ola brought the gun. He said we should upgrade to robbing people with gun. Four of us contributed N25,000 to purchase the locally-made gun, with two cartridges.
A day before my girlfriend and I were arrested, Ola called to inform me that he had bought the gun last Wednesday. He told me to meet him at a hotel in Mushin. I left Ogun State for the hotel, where I also met Ifeanyi.
“Ola gave me the gun and told me to join them for an operation. But I told them I won’t join them since I did not know the terrain. When they left, I invited my girlfriend who resides in Agege, to join me at the hotel.
“Next day (Thursday), I called Ola to come and take the gun, that I was leaving. But he told me to wait. Having waited until 12 noon without seeing him, I checked out of the hotel, stopped a motorbike and put the gun in my girlfriend’s handbag. But she didn’t know it was a gun.
“Unfortunately, the gun was discovered by the Police.”
On her part, Miss Lawson, a food vendor assistant at Agege, said she knew that her boyfriend was a pick-pocket, but that she was not aware that he used gun to rob people.
The mother of one, who said she knew Omisogun through a friend, said he was no longer communicating with her until last month.
She said: “When he called me on Thursday to come to Mushin, I told him that I was not feeling too well, but he insisted that I should meet him there. As we were leaving that day, I told him I wanted to go to my aunt’s place to collect money.
“He collected my bag, went out to call an Okada, before giving the bag back to me. When the Police stopped us and told me to hand over my bag to him, I did obediently, without knowing what was inside. I am innocent.”
Confirming the arrest, spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, DSP Elkana Bala, said: “The suspects belong to a five-man armed robbery syndicate operating in Mushin, Ikotun, and Igando areas of Lagos State.
“They have been transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, for discreet investigation and will be charged to court, thereafter.”