By Nzogi Uwujare
like the fictional character, Jack Dawkins (nicknamed the Artful Dodger) in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, 10-year-old Victor Tarekedomoni, once escaped from police custody like a slippery eel.
He used the advantage of his small size and squeezable soft flesh to pass through the iron bars of a police cell and high-tailed to freedom. But he was re-arrested on Sandy Road, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
As Sunday Sun learnt from the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Amba Asuquo, Victor had been associated with robbery gang that had terrorized and robbed over 20 victims.
The police boss said Victor specialized in robbing victims of phones at bus stops and breaking into houses by squeezing through anti-burglary iron-bars, to ransack the homes, during which he would cart away jewellery, money, phones, and other valuables. He said that the terrible 10-year-old had led several successful operations before nemesis caught up with him.
Asuquo revealed that in April, 2017, Victor and his gang allegedly broke into a particular house in Okaka area of the city. While he was ransacking the house, the victim raised the alarm, which attracted neighbours who rushed to the scene. The boy quickly clambered into the ceiling. But the neighbours fished Victor out from the ceiling and arrested him. But members of the gang escaped.
The victim, Eyarike Ebi, said that the incident was the second time that the gang had robbed his house. The first time, Victor and the gang allegedly stole N250,000 and other valuables items.
Following that first instance, the suspect, Victor, was arrested and handed over to Ekeli Police Station, from where he was transferred to the custody of the Special Armed Robbery Squad in the state capital.
To the chagrin of the operatives of SARS, Victor, the Artful Dodger of Bayelsa, squeezed through the iron-bars, climbed the fence and escaped from custody.
The four police officers investigating Victor’s case paid a price for the boy’s successful escape and were thrown into police cell for two weeks before they were released, to go after him. Victor who was later re-arrested in July 2017 at Sandy Road, Yenagoa.
Funny enough, the suspect was alleged to have even robbed other detained suspects of their phones and money while in the cell. “Victor is too smart in everything he does, and also smart in lying even though he was caught in the act,” the police boss said.
When he spoke with Sunday Sun, Victor said: “I lost my father and my mother very early in life. I was staying with my uncle, (name withheld), who taught me how to rob. My uncle has sent me on several occasions to rob in the area.
“There was one time he sent me to an office to steal a TV and their computer, which I did. I was attending the Universal Basic Primary Community Education School at Ovom, I was in primary 4 when I dropped out of school. What happened was that my uncle went to rob, but when the police came to look for him, he ran away from house. So, I dropped out of school and joined a robbery gang.
“I have been involved in several armed robberies; when we go for operation, the older members of the gang will lift me up the fence, I will jump down and pass through the burglarproof bars, enter the house, ransack the place, take money, jewellery and then escape. After the robbery, they will give me N1000 or N1500, which I used to feed myself daily.
Victor, who hails from Egaibiri community in Sagbama Local Government Area, Bayelsa State said further: “I have robbed over 20 victims. I stole their phones at bus stops or along the street.
“It was when I spent one month in SARS custody, I decided to escape and squeezed through the iron-bars of the cell. I always slept in the store at Arietalin Street, Ovom, before policemen re-arrested me at Sandy area in Yenagoa.”
Victor who seems penitent appealed to the Bayelsa State governor to rescue and train him. His words: “If the state government or the governor of Bayelsa can come to my rescue and train me, I can be leader in Bayelsa tomorrow. I am talented and blessed but I didn’t have parental care. That is why I went into robbery and joined a gang. I am a member of Greenlander cult group. I don’t want to go back to robbing again. I want to be a good citizen of Bayelsa.
“I want the public to forgive me because it was my uncle who introduced me to robbery. I started stealing before I joined the gang. The names of the other six members of the gang who are still on run are Junior, Finefine, Daddy Boy, Godspower, Kempade and Goodtimes.”
Asuquo said that Victor would be sent to the Juvenile Court while the police command intensifies effort to arrest the other members of the gang.