By Steve Oko
A dismissed personnel of the Department of State Services, DSS, Prosper Israel, along with nine other suspected robbers, were, yesterday, paraded by the Abia State Police Command, for robbery.
The suspects were part of the alleged 14-man robbery gang that ambushed a bullion van near Ntigha Junction of the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, on July 26, 2022.
During the robbery, the cash officer of a new generation bank was killed on the spot, while the suspects carted away an unspecified amount of cash being conveyed by the bullion van.
Three police personnel escorting the bullion van sustained life-threatening wounds, while one of the robbers was killed by the security men during a gun duel.
Parading the suspects, the state’s Commissioner of Police, Janet Agbade, said their arrest was the reward of months of painstaking efforts and investigation.
“We carefully studied their modus operandi and set up a special intelligence technologically-led Investigative Squad, ITLIS, with a clear directive to arrest and recover weapons used by the deadly armed robbery gang”, the CP said.
“Consequently, the Investigation used systematically commenced operation, applying speed and accuracy, and on different locations and days, arrested the following callous armed robbery gang”, she added.
The police boss gave the names of the suspects as Adesoji Adeniyi from Ondo State; Nnamdi Nwaosu a.k.a “Prophet”; Chinwendu Israel from Abia; and Prosper Israel ( ex – DSS personnel), also from Abia.
Others were Nwachukwu Albert a.k.a White ( first amourer) from Delta State but resident in Lagos; Felix Ajaja from Ondo State; Moshood Opeyemi, from Osun State; and Matthew Christmas also from Delta.
Among the suspects also were Azubuike Amaefula a.k.a Zubby from Abia; and Monday Samuel (second amourer) from Delta but resident in Ondo State.
Exhibits recovered from the suspects included: one General Purpose Machine Gun ( GPMG); 13 AK 47 riffles; one cut-to-size double barrel gun with five live cartridges; 84 AK 47 magazines.
Others were two improvised explosives dynamites; a Mercedes Benz mini truck used in concealing firearms; and cash of N10, 184,000.
According to the CP, the suspects during interrogation confessed that they placed the bullion van on surveillance for two months.
The CP who said that efforts were on to trail three other members of the gang still at large, pleaded with members of the public to always volunteer information about suspected criminals around them.
She said that the suspects would be arraigned after further investigations.
Later in an interview, the driver of the truck, Albert, said his role was to drive the truck where their weapons are concealed any time there was an operation to their target location.
He said five AK 47 and one GPMG were concealed in the truck at the time of his arrest.
The Aniocha North LGA-born suspect who said he dropped out from the University of Ado Ekiti pleaded for forgiveness.
The suspect said he deals in jeans wears and joined in the robbery operation to raise money to expand his business.
“I have never killed. My own job is to drive the vehicle to the scene of operation and hand over the guns”, he said.
Similarly, the ex-DSS officer, pleaded for forgiveness, saying it was the first time he would be involved in any crime.
He said he was initially serving at the Abia State Government House but was dismissed in 2007 following his late reporting to a new posting.
According to him, it was his brother that gave him part of the money he got from the operation.
” My role in the operation was that I was in my house when my brother brought money and his colleagues and they shared and gave me part of it.
” I asked him and he told me how they got the money. I want to plead for forgiveness because I failed to rebuke him. So, it is obvious I participated because I can’t say I did not. But it was not intentional and I want society to forgive us”.