America deployed over 60 men, dynamites, KPMGs to attack 5 banks in Lagos
How police foiled planned operation, arrest 6 militants
By CHIOMA IGBOKWE
Desperate to firm up his control of the creeks across three Southwest states of Lagos, Ogun and Ondo, the new militant commander, America, has launched massive recruitments of men to join his criminal gang, with the sole aim of stepping up robberies and kidnappings in the region.
But for the timely intervention of operatives of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT), several lives would have been wasted in an Armageddon planned for Lagos by America. According to confessional statements by six of his boys arrested by the IRT team, the militant leader had deployed dangerous weapons such as dynamites, multi-purpose machine guns and over 60 armed men to invade five banks in Lekki and Ajah areas of Lagos State. Those now in police custody include Abiodun Olaoye, Benjamin Powei, Segun Tuwei, Samuel Chinedu, Saheed Osunkoya and Ikechukwu Innocent Samuel, a private security guard at a school in Lekki.
According to a police source, detectives acted based on intelligence gathering by the Technical Intelligence Unit (TIU), that a group of militants were planning to attack banks in Lagos State. The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris was said to have alerted IRT operatives led by ACP Abba Kyari to stop the planned attack while security was beefed up in the area.
In the course of investigation, it was discovered that four of the suspects were sent to survey the banks and hire two operational buses that will convey the militants to and from the riverbank to the banks. From the information gathered, the banks marked robbery attack were three new generation banks in Lekki and another two in Ajah (Names withheld by us). The suspects took time with the aid of a private security man working in a nearby school, to inspect and determine the number of security men and how best to overpower them.
The suspects claimed that they were contracted by America, who is the man behind the kidnap of six secondary school students and others in Igbonla, Epe.
It was gathered that as soon as he learnt that his boys who were sent on surveillance had been arrested, he immediately went for plan B, which was the kidnap of the Lagos Model College students and some others.
At the police station, the suspects who were disappointed that the man (America) who contracted them had not made any effort to get them released from police net confessed that the militant leader had already invited about 60 militants to execute the robbery operation.
According to Abiodun Olaoye aged 38, he decided to assist his fellow militants whom he refers to as ‘bunkering soldiers’ to raid the banks. “I am 38 and from Okitipupa in Ondo state. I am a graduate of Geology. I got to know Benjamin as far back as 2005, then I was selling electronics. He used to come around to buy from my shop. Unfortunately, my business folded and he introduced me into buying and selling petroleum products. Along the line, naval officers caught us and seized our kegs filled with fuel. I was embittered when in my presence they gave four gallons to the wife of their boss who lives in Majidun.
“I got bitter and decided to teach them a lesson. I reported the matter to Benjamin who assured me that he would tell the ‘bunkering soldiers.’ I was not opportune to meet these commanders face to face, but Benjamin was my link. I described the place to them but when they came, they did not see the man so they took his wife and went to neighboring house and picked a couple.
“They gave me N80, 000 for bringing the information. That was enough to cover the cost of my product that was seized by the naval officers. I kept doing business with them, informing them of any possible victim to pick in Ikorodu area.
I guess they had confidence in me that was why they included my name among those who will do surveillance.”
Impressed that ‘America’ will find him worthy for such a job, Abiodun decided to give in his best. “I knew that I will definitely get up to a million naira if they succeeded. I remembered that I have a friend, Ikechukwu who is a private security man in Lekki. I told him our plans and he took us round various banks within Lekki and Ajah. He showed us the one close to the waterway, which is to be our route within and out of Lagos Island.
“America told us through phone call that he had gathered about 60 boys and will come with dynamites, GPMGs and all kinds of weapons which he said were already available. His plan was to raid at least five banks at once. It would have been a bumper harvest if they succeeded. I was banking on my share to quit militancy,” he stated.
Benjamin on his part claims that he was simply an errand boy. “I am a native of Biagbini Eseodo in Ondo State. I knew Ossy Ibori when he was actively involved in oil bunkering. After his death, America is the one strong enough to assume control of Ikorodu creeks. He was the one Ossy was using to do most kidnapping in Lagos and Ogun and I served as his errand boy. My duty was to paddle the canoe for every operation and to buy food that we will give our victims. It was also my responsibility to supply food to them in the camp.
“After Ossy died, there was need to raise money to take care of the boys. There are many boys in the creeks and if they are not fed, it will lead to chaos.
It was America who sent me to find some boys to join me for surveillance. I had already noticed that militants were coming from Ondo and Delta states with different types of arms.
“Our own job was to survey the place and get the safest route in and out since I might lead other boat paddlers that day. I was shocked when the police picked us claiming that they knew our plan.
“Initially, I denied but when they started picking the others I knew that our game was up. I guess it was because they arrested us that America decided to attack Epe as option B. We are on our own,” he said.
Benjamin also admitted that he knew about the recent killings of five policemen and an Army officer on a rescue mission at Ikorodu. “I knew about it but I did not participate. I am simply an errand boy and I do not have access to a gun. I ran away after the incident because policemen were arresting anyone with a strong face. They ended up picking my wife and released her after two weeks.”
Yet another suspect Samuel Chinedu claimed that his own role was to secure the bus that will be used for the attack on Lagos banks. “When ‘America’ received confirmation from the boys he sent for surveillance, I was asked to travel down to Lagos and give money to them to secure a bus. Then he was staying in that house built by Ossy at Awode Kora, Ogun State. Their plan was to use the bus, set it on fire after use and compensate the owner. I never knew that the police had arrested them. I came to give them the deposit when the police arrested me,” he claimed.
Begging for mercy, the private security man Ikechukwu aged 33 admitted that all he did was to show the militants possible banks that are close to water. “I am a private security man employed by Tana securities. I was posted to guard a school at Lekki. I have known Abiodun for the past one year and his brother lives close to the school where I am guarding. He normally comes to chat with me, it was then that he told me that he is a soldier and was looking for fast money. I told him that I do not have an idea on how best to make fast money.
“Along the line, he told me that he was doing militancy work and that he has boys who needs to be taken care of. He was able to convince me to take him round Lekki and Ajah to check out all the banks close to the water. On a Saturday, we checked five banks. We also took note of how many security men that were guarding the banks and the best time to attack. We also observed when they normally move money out of the bank and how long it will take policemen or army with enough weapons to withstand their own to respond to emergency.
“I wanted to tell the police but I was scared because he is a military man. I have seen him with a pistol and knife that is why I was scared. I specifically told him that I do not intend to go with them. He only told me that I must be around on the day they will attack so that I will alert them when security men are coming. This is the only crime I committed. Please have mercy, I was only scared of dying,” he said.
A camp in Awode Kora community
Not left out in the confession at the police station was Osunkoya Saheed, the man who claimed that he was an errand boy for the late militant leader, Ossy Ibori.
“I am a fisherman from Awode Kora in Ogun State. I knew the late Ossy Ibori as far back as 1995 when he was still very small. Then his father and mother were into fishing and timberwork.
“His family left Ogun during the Ijaw and Ilaje fight in Awode Kora and after 10 years they came back. He told us he was now a militant based in Ondo but will relocate to Lagos State as soon as he can recruit so many boys. I agreed to be his errand boy in Awode Kora. My duty was to hire cars that will convey him and his boys. I also helped him to secure his arms where people will not see them.
“Months before he died, he came back and built a wooden house which is still standing in our village. A week after the completion, he came back with about 30 men and they all camped in that house. The community noticed the number of strange faces who trooped in and alerted the Baale (community leader).
“The Baale, (Name withheld by us) summoned Ossy and asked him what the problem was. He asked why he decided to invade the community with criminals. He told the Baale that they will not spend so much time, that they were fighting for amnesty in Ondo State. He promised the Baale that he and his boys will spend few weeks,” Saheed narrated.
Still not satisfied, the Baale was said to have asked about the number of weapons that they also brought along. “Some of the fishermen who saw when we were unpacking the guns from the boat told the Baale. Ossy told the Baale that they were meant for the struggle. He also gave the Baale some money so that he will not tell security operatives that they were in the community. During those visits he introduced me to America as his operational commander. He and some of the boys would travel to Lagos and spend some days and return with plenty of money.
“They spent about a three months in the town before relocating to Ondo during the January governorship election. He returned after the election and was accusing another former militant in Ondo of sabotage. We learnt that it was the man that gave him up to the army. After his death, America came back and told me that he is my new boss and I accepted. I agreed because I was using one of their cars for my personal business,” he further alleged.