By Ifeanyi Okolie
Two suspects, who specialized in drugging taxi drivers operating at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, before stealing their vehicles, have been arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT.
Vanguard gathered that the suspects who were identified as Sanusi Balla and Nurudeen Ibrahim, ran into trouble recently when they drugged and killed a serving soldier with the Nigeria Army, Sergeant Richard Akaeze, and made away with his Peugeot 406 saloon car.
Police sources told Vanguard that the suspects who normally tricked their victims to drinking joints around the FCT, where they would drug their drinks or food before stealing their victims’ vehicles, gave Sergeant Akaeze an overdose of the drug that killed him.
The suspects were said to have buried his corpse hurriedly in a yet to be disclosed site and took away his mobile phones and his car which he was using for taxi.A source explained that the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed was alerted about Akaeze’s disappearance by his colleagues in the army, few days after he failed to return home from his business and operatives of the IRT, headed by Abba Kyari, were directed to investigate and unravel the circumstances surrounding his disappearance. It was gathered that when the operatives commenced investigations, Akaeze’s stolen mobile phone was tracked and the operatives discovered that the phone was being used by one of the suspects, Balla, who owned a car stand in Kaura Local Government Area of Zamfara State and was equally a staff of the Local Government. Balla was said to have confessed after his arrest that his friend, Ibrahim, who was based in Abuja gave him the mobile phone when he brought a Peugeot 406 for him to buy but that he said he didn’t buy the vehicle because he had no money at that time.
Balla explained further that aside his car selling business and his job as a clerk at the local government, he had joined Ibrahim in several operations at the FCT where they drugged their victims before stealing their vehicles. He however denied taking part in the operation where Ibrahim drugged and killed the late soldier, before stealing his vehicle and his mobile phone that was found on him.
Police sources added that Balla assisted the police in arresting Ibrahim in Abuja, but he denied meeting, drugging or killing Sergeant Akaeze, when he was interrogated, while admitting that he was in the business of drugging and stealing from unsuspecting taxi drivers operating in the FCT and his targets were mainly greedy taxi drivers who had uncontrollable appetite for free drinks.
Our modus operandi—Balla
When the suspects were interviewed, 37-year-old Sanusi Balla, who is married with eight children, said; “I am a civil servant and I work at the Finance Department of my Local Government as a clerk in that department. I have a friend Nurudeen Ibrahim who called me that he had a car to sell, a Golf 3 saloon car which I bought for N220,000.
Three months later he called again and asked me to buy a Honda Civic car, for N230,000. Five months after that, he called again and sold a Peugeot 206 to me. But last year he called me to join him in stealing cars since I was just enjoying the sales. I joined him and when we got to Abuja, we bought a drug known as Tributan. We would then pick a cab and engaged the cab operator in a conversation. We would make him our friend and offer to give him a drink in a bar. While drinking in the bar, we would ask him to get us something we left behind in his car and before he came back we would have put drug in his drink or food and as he slept off, we would take him in his car and dump him on the outskirts of the town and we would make away with his vehicle.
My first operation”The first operation we did together was to steal a Peugeot 406 wagon. We picked the cab from Nyanyan and took the driver to a popular Garden in Gariki area of Abuja, where we got him drugged and made away with his vehicle.
I sold the car for N320,000 gave my friend N160,000. The second operation was at Duse Alhaji, where we picked a Golf 2 saloon cab. After we have negotiated with the driver, we took him to a bar, where we bought him drinks and drugged his pepper soup. We left him sedated in the bar and made away with his car which I sold for N160,000 and I gave N80,000 to Ibrahim”.
How I got into trouble Three weeks later, Ibrahim did an operation alone but he didn’t carry me along when he stole a Peugeot 406 Saloon Car and brought it to me in Zamfara and he asked me to buy but I told him that I wasn’t interested and he took the vehicle away and sold it to someone else in Zamfara State. But before he left with the car to Zamfara, I searched the car and found a small phone in it and I told him that I needed the phone. When he gave me the phone, I took it to Kano and gave it to one of my friends known as Lawan. Two weeks later, Lawan called and told me that he was in Zamfara to see me. I didn’t know that he came with the police and I was arrested.
Why I ventured into crime —Ibrahim
But Nurudeen Ibrahim, 42, a native of Argungu in Kebi State, who is married with two children, said he ventured into crime because his elder brother, a Brigadier General with the Nigeria Army drove him out of his farm where he was working. He said; “I was a supervisor in my elder brother’s farm. He assisted me to get married and had two children but we started having issues thereafter and I left the farm.
Since I had no means of feeding my family, I went to a friend, Abdulrasheed, who was into the business of drugging cab drivers and taking away their vehicles. I called and informed him that I was jobless and he asked me to join him in his business and in our first operation we stole two cars, a Nissan Almeria and Opel Vetral. I was arrested after that operation and I went back to my village, but after a while, I came back and started the drugging business again. I stole a Honda Civic, Toyota Avensis, Golf and Peugeot 206 and sold all these vehicles to my friend Sanusi. I invited my friend to join me because the job is easy when you have a partner. Whenever we had a target, I would tell the taxi driver to stop that I wanted to buy something in a big super market.
My partner would then start a conversation with the taxi driver, telling him that I was a rich man with plenty money and I didn’t know what to do with my money. He would also tell the taxi driver that I enjoyed drinking alcohol and whenever I was drunk, I used to give my cab operators any amount of money they asked for.
A greedy taxi driver would fall for this trick and would follow us to a bar where we would drug him and steal his cab, but a cab driver who was not greedy would not fall for our trick. So, when I brought in Sanusi, after the death of my friend who got infected with HIV Aids died, we stole three cars, a Toyota Avensis, a Golf 2 and Peugeot 406 Wagon. Sanusi bought all the cars and we shared the loot. After then I went on to do three other jobs. I collected a Peugeot 406 saloon car from Maraba, a Mitsubishi car from Jabi and a Honda Uk, from Garki area of Abuja. I sold the Honda Uk and the Mitsubishi in Kano for N320,0000. I wasn’t the person who killed or drugged the missing soldier and I didn’t take the Peugeot 406 Saloon car, to Sanusi. Sanusi is the only person who can explain where he got the phone. I had also been a victim, there was a time I tried drugging my victim and erroneously took the drink and I got high and slept off in the bar. The taxi man I was to rob, stole all the money in my pockets and my mobile phones”.