Self-confessed member of a notorious robbery gang that has been terrorizing residents of Mushin, in Lagos, Akande Qudus, 20, has revealed that he joined the gang at the age of 16, over his inability to resist an invitation from some of his friends.
The gang which operate in a group of 20 and 30, alleged attacked unsuspecting Lagosians, both on the streets and at bus-stops, dispossessing them f their valuables.
He was arrested by members of the Odua Peoples Congress in Mushin Area of the Lagos State, weekend and handed over to the Police at Olosan division. Recovered from him was a knife and two phones suspected to have been stolen.
Qudus, in this interview, stated that he left his parents’ home in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, for Lagos, at age 13, to learn auto mechanic, at the popular Ladipo market in Mushin area of the state, only to abandon it following his inability to meet up.
Preliminary investigation revealed that he had been to prison thrice over similar offences and that he had just finished serving a jail term before the latest arrest.
Explaining how he joined the robbery gang, he said, “I was influenced negatively. A friend of mine, Ladoja, told me to accompany him to a place with five other friends: Micheal, Kabiru, Popo, Sheriff and one other, to Tedi Mariott hotel, at Rabiatu area of Mushin.
“I never knew we were going to rob until we got to the destination. First, he taught me how to snatch phones from people, especially commuters. He lured me with food and drinks because I had nothing doing.
At times some of us would stand at bus-stops pretending to be commuters waiting to board buses. Thereafter, we would pretend to be quarrelling, just to distract other commuters. While that is on, we would remove phones from bags and pockets of those we succeeded to distract.
At times, we would snatch phones from passengers who love fiddling with their phones while inside moving vehicles.
“I was arrested last Sunday by OPC members. They chased us with a motorcycle during operation and I was caught with the dagger Ladoja gave to me to use during operation. They took me to their office, beat me to stupor before they called the Police.
“I have led the Police to where Ladoja and other members of the gang could be found but we did not meet them there. I also led them to their second location at Olushoga, yet they were not seen. I believe they have gone into hiding because of my arrest. I only used the dagger to scare people but I have never killed anyone. What we do is to beat anyone who refused to give us his phone”
Journey to prison
Qudus said; “I have been to prison more than once. The first time, I was taken to Kirikiri prison where I spent one week over cult-related activities but my mother came for my bail. The second time I was sent to prison was because I stole phones. One of the phones belongs to someone who lives in the same area as me.
Residents rejoice over arrest
When news of his arrest filtered round, most of the residents expressed joy, saying that the harassment on them would lessen.
Some of them who spoke to Vanguard on the condition of anonymity claimed that they had been victims of the gang’s excesses.
Recounting his ordeal in the hand of Qudus’ gang, one of them said, “They usually operated in a group of 20 or more. I was attacked last Sunday. I took to my heels on sighting them and they ran after me and caught up with me. I pleaded with them to spare my life because they were armed. I told them I had four children. At the end, they collected my phone and N15,000 cash.
To my surprise, I identified some of them as residents of the street next to mine. Their leader is the son of one of the landlords. Woe betides anyone who dared to report their activities to the police.
“We would like Qudus to remain long in prison because if he is released, we would be in trouble. This because he has identified those of us that came out to narrate our experiences to the Police.”
Another victim said, “His gang operated brazenly on the streets. If they see anyone with a bag from 7 pm, they would snatch it.
In my own case, I was returning from work when I heard a woman whose bag was being snatched, shouting for help. As I attempted to see if she was someone I knew, the hoodlums snatched mine ”.