By Ngozi Uwujare
Police operatives with the Oyo State Police Command have arrested five suspected kidnappers on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Among other alleged crimes, the kidnappers have allegedly abducted several victims, raped innocent women and collected millions of naira from relatives of the victims.
Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mr Adebowale Williams told Saturday Sun that the command has dealt with the hoodlums who usually come from neighbouring states to rob and kidnap victims. He said the hoodlums were arrested on June 3 at their hideout in Onigari axis off the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway.
He said the police operatives had an encounter with them and followed them to their hideout, arresting five suspected kidnappers and armed robbers.
“They robbed victims who travelled from Ibadan to Lagos and took them to their hideout, collected their valuables, raped the female victims, called their relatives and collected millions of naira as ransom,” he said.
He said the suspects have robbed over ten passenger vehicles and that the police recovered some arms and ammunitions including locally made pistols, AK-47 rifles and 30 rounds of ammunitions from them.
CP Williams explained further that in May 2022, the same gang of kidnappers and armed robbers had robbed some passenger vehicles around Ogere, adding that they took ten of the victims in the vehicle before some of the victims escaped from the scene and shouted for help. He said the police operatives in Ogere swung into action and intercepted the suspects while the victims were rescued from where they were kept in the kidnappers’ hideout.
Also, the same gang, he said, made another attempt to kidnap and rob vehicles along Guru Maharaj ji axis while the police on patrol on the highway intercepted the hoodlums when they wanted to block the highway. He said the kidnappers escaped from the scene of crime and abandoned their arms and ammunitions.
CP Williams stated that the police operatives along Ibadan/Ijebu-Ode axis had an encounter with the same gang of kidnappers and armed robbers on May 30, 2022 when the hoodlums blocked the road around 10pm until information got to the control room.
The commissioner said the police operatives swung into action and had a gun duel with the hoodlums. He said one of the suspects was shot dead while others escaped with bullet wounds.
“They asked the passengers to come down and requested for their ATM cards, phones and wristwatches. They also told them to lie down. It was in this process that the army personnel who were passing on the expressway saw the robbers. The soldiers fired some shots, and the criminals abandoned all the phones, ATM cards and other property and ran inside the bush. The passengers started shouting for help and the police operatives alongside the army personnel came to their rescue,” Williams explained..
CP Williams said the armed robbery suspects who specialise in bank robbery were arrested early on June 20, 2022.
He said: “It was through intelligence gathering that the suspects were tracked and apprehended. The suspects specialise in carrying out well coordinated robbery attacks on banks. It was on June 13, 2022 when they were planning to execute a bloody bank robbery on another new generation bank within the metropolis at an early hour of June 14, 2022 that the operatives arrested them.
“Also, the two gang members, Abass Azeez, 42, and Mayowa Kehinde, 29, a contract staff/marketer with the bank, have been involved in several armed robberies in Ibadan and escaped from the scene whenever they encountered the police.
“The other gang members, Ridwan Eniola, 33, Mistura Akande, 33, Abass Aderoju, 41, Akeem Adeniyi, 37, were nabbed at their hideout at Odo-Ona area along Alao-Akala Expressway, Ibadan,” he said.
The police boss said the gang of armed robbers on February 3, 2022 had also attempted to rob one of the new generation banks at Orita challenge Area of Ibadan, adding that the police operatives were at alert when they heard the information.
“They foiled the bank robbery but the gang escaped to Ibadan/Lagos Expressway with their operational vehicles. Also, on March 23, 2022, the same bank robbers were in Idi-Ape Area of Ibadan where they targeted two new generation banks. It was through intelligence gathering that the police operatives were prompted to arrest two of the gang members when they were planning to operate at the scene. The others escaped from their hideout when the two suspects took the police operatives to their hideout and raided the place and they abandoned their arms and ammunition while escaping.”
CP Williams said that the suspects have all confessed to their various involvements in the criminal operations, adding that all the suspects were in police custody.
One of the suspects, Kazeem Lawal spoke with Saturday Sun. Hear him: “I hail from Ogun State and are into armed robbery and kidnapping along Lagos/Ibadan Expressway. We are a gang of eight and we have robbed several victims along Lagos/Ibadan Expressway. We robbed some passengers who were stranded along the expressway. We used motorbikes to disguise and collected all their valuable items after beating them up. We collected their ATM cards from them and requested their pins. Then we used our own POS machine to withdraw the money. But we didn’t kill any of our victims. We are after their money and phones and other valuable items which we can sell and make money.
“We have operated on the Ibadan-Lagos Expressway down to Ogere axis and since they have repaired the road, we do not rob like that again. We now come out once in a while, when we see people who are stranded. We started robbing four years ago. We only kidnapped victims just twice and took them inside bush, raped a female young lady and collected all their belongings.” Another suspect, Abass Azeez also spoke with the reporter. His words: “I am from Oyo State, and I work with one of the new generation banks. I have some members of a gang that are involved in armed robbery in Ibadan. I always give them information on how to rob some banks in Ibadan. Some of the operations were not successful after police attacked us and we escaped from the scene. It was when we wanted to carry out another operation that the police operatives raided our hideout and arrested us. I have confessed to the police operatives.”
The police commissioner, Mr Williams said the suspects would soon be charged to court. He called for the cooperation of the public for the provision of useful information that will ensure the constant raid of criminals’ hideouts.