Operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, have arrested three members of a notorious robbery gang, who specializes in snatching expensive cars from women driving around the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Cars snatched by the gang were subsequently taken to faraway places and disposed of cheaply.
The suspects, Ego Ike, Obinna Igwe and Adamu Nuhu, were arrested in Abuja and Kaduna State, weeks after they robbed a female staff of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) of her vehicle, while on her way home from work.
The suspects allegedly drove the snatched vehicle, a 2016 Toyota Corolla, to Katsina State, and tried to smuggle it into Niger Republic. But unfortunately for them, the Nigerien police patrol at the border, suspecting that it might be a stolen car, accosted the suspects, demanding proof of ownership. On realizing that their game was up, the gang members who were in the car at the time fled but one of them, identified as Yellow, was arrested.
Meanwhile, the FIRS staff and other women who were victims of the gang have made complaints to the police authorities in Abuja. The avalanche of complaints showing similar patterns prompted the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, to direct operatives at the IRT to investigate the cases.
Information provided by the victims led to the arrest of three of the gang members, though, the alleged leader of the gang, Linus, is still on the run.
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that 80 per cent of the gang’s victims were women. Under interrogation, they confessed that they chose to attack only women because they are easier prey, easy to scare, with or without a gun.
Chronicles of a car snatcher
One of the suspects, Ego Ike, is a 30-year-old native of Anambra State.
A former spare parts dealer, he claimed he took to crime after his gambling habit wreaked his business, which in boom time was worth over N6million.
“I was formerly a spare part dealer at the Ladipo market, Lagos, but I moved to Abuja in search of greener pasture. When I couldn’t find my bearing, I pressured my father to sell his only land in the village and sponsor my trip to Istanbul, Turkey, with the money. I stayed in Istanbul for three years, worked and saved close to N6 million. Then I started importing cloths into Nigeria. I was supplying several shops around Abuja and Lagos State, but in 2016, one of my friends introduced me to NaijaBet, a sport betting game and there I lost all my money. My residence permit in Istanbul expired and I had no money to renew it. I became frustrated. I met Linus in one of my brother’s house in the Jabi area of Abuja and we became friends. He introduced me to an armed robbery gang of which Obinna and Yellow are members.
How the women were robbed
Ike in his confession also gave vivid accounts of how his gang robbed three women of their expensive cars in Abuja.
“We stole a Toyota Rav 4 from a woman who was driving into her house in Shafar Road. We took the car to Kaduna and handed it over to Nuhu who paid us N200, 000. We also accosted another woman in Bwari area. She was driving a Toyota Matrix and stopped in front of a shop to buy something. We snatched the woman’s car and took it to Kaduna. We were paid N270, 000 for the vehicle. We didn’t know that the woman works with the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC). The third was a Toyota Corolla Sports, which we snatched from a woman at Kado Estate. We used Yellow’s car to block the woman’s car and then snatched the vehicle from her. We took the car that night to Niger Republic. At the Katsina border, Linus and I came down from the car, took a bike and crossed into the country, while Yellow and another man (I don’t really know who he is) drove the car into Niger Republic, but the Nigerien police stopped them and arrested them.”
On why they targeted women, Ike said: “We don’t use guns and women are easy to catch because most of them are not security conscious.”
The teenage car thief among them
By his age, Adamu Nuhu appears incapable of the grave charges against him, but available evidence proves that the 19-year-old is a hardened professional car snatcher.
“I had only primary school education. I was 17 years old when I started stealing cars,” he admitted.
The teenager from Kaduna State, one of the trio of suspects nabbed by the police, subsequently confessed to a series of car-snatching operations across the country.
He gave a detailed account of how he became a criminal that specialized in car theft: “I met a man known as MD when I was selling phones in Kaduna State. MD was one of my customers who usually bought phones from me. Sometime in 2017, armed robbers attacked me and all my phones were stolen and I was stranded. I approached MD to assist me. He told me that since I know how to drive, he’d start giving me cars to deliver for him to several states. He was paying between N30, 000 to N40, 000. He gave me a master key and showed me how to use it.”
Having learnt the rope, the teenager embarked on a full-time career of stealing cars.
“The first car I stole with the master key was a Toyota Carina. After stealing the car in a market in Tuniga Maji, along the Kaduna-Abuja expressway, I drove it to Kaduna, to one Mohammed Garuba who bought it from me for N120,000. After then, MD asked me to meet one Yellow and collect a vehicle from him. The vehicle had an engine problem. We contacted Garuba and he bought it for N180, 000. Then I stole three other cars, all Toyota Camry, from the market at Tuniga Maji area along the Kaduna-Abuja expressway. I sold the three vehicles for N420, 000 to one Alhaji in Sokoto State. MD also gave me four Toyota Corolla cars to deliver to one Abudul whose job was to help us get receivers in Niger Republic. Later in September 2018, Yellow introduced me to his own gang who were operating mainly in Abuja with guns. One of them, known as Linus (yet to be arrested) called me and said he was coming with some of his brothers from Benue State who operate with AK47 rifles. He told me that they want to carry out a robbery operation in that state but added that they don’t know the terrain. I was waiting for them to meet me at the point where we agreed to meet when policemen showed up and I was arrested.”