- I donate proceeds of my bank robberies to orphanages and churches
By VINCENT KALU
NEMESIS has caught up with a three-man gang alleged to have been terrorising some South-south and South-east states between 2013 and 2016.
The men: The leader of the gang, Gogo Daniel Ume, 30, alias Full- Payment, from Andoni, Ikaodi Michael Isere alias White Witch and Ifeanyi Kalu alias East man.
In the past, they were alleged to have carried out series of bank robberies, carting away millions of naira during such operations, as well as spilling the blood of over 20 policemen, including ASP Bamidele Mohammed, Inspector Austen Moore, Corporal Prince Tigabara, from Elekahia police division. The cops were escorting huge cash in a bullion van belonging to a new generation bank in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital.
Late last month, their cup of atrocities was full following their arrest by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in Rivers and Bayelsa states.
In the beginning
On his journey into the underworld, Gogo, who said he lives in Lagos and Bayelsa, also said he studied Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the Rivers State Polytechnic and graduated in 2013.
According to him, he is currently studying Computer Science, at National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN and he is a certified safety officer of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria.
According to him, the seed of his criminal life was sowed in 2012 as an undergraduate when as a member of Vikings confraternity, he became a close friend to one Fabian, who was a member of a kidnap gang led by one Abiye.
By the time he graduated, his seed of criminal activities had germinated and blossomed. He joined the kidnap gang.
They went to Enugu and attempted to rob another First Bank, the operation failed because Kio tried to enter the bank with a rifle but he was shot dead by one of the policemen on guard. They escaped into a hotel, and stayed there for three days, from where they planned another operation. Abiye, then suggested that they moved to Owerri to rob another bank.
He called one of his scouts known as Promise, an Ogoni boy, who had worked in a bank and was a very resourceful informant. Three days after they called him, he gave them report of UBA and how to strike the bank. They went to Owerri and the next day, they went for the operation. “We got to the bank around 7pm, Promise told us to look out for the manager of the bank who usually held the key to the bank. There were no security men at the bank, but our target had gone home. So, we had to break the back door with a sledge hammer and found a very small amount of money. Abiye was very angry and called Promise and asked why he didn’t tell them that there was no money in the bank. I think what they saw wasn’t up to N10 million. And I was given N800, 000 as my own share since I was still new on the job.
“When we returned to Port Harcourt, Fabian took me, Kennedy and two other guys from Kalabari to kidnap a woman at Rupkokwu area of Port Harcourt. It was the Kalabari guys that knew the woman and her husband and they were the ones who took us to them. After kidnapping the woman, we took her across the river to Tombia forest. They had a base there. That was where we kept the woman. It was Fabian and one of the Kalabari boys that negotiated with the woman’s husband and N12million was paid before she was released. I was given N3millon as my share and I bought a car from it and used the rest in taking care of myself.”
A new gang berthed
Gogo felt that he had garnered enough experience and would not want to be under tutelage any further, so he decided to leave the gang to start his own gang where he would be the boss and called the shots. However, things did not go the way he envisaged.
“Later in 2014, I decided to quit, I heard that there was a vacancy at an oil company, Total and there were slots for members of Obagi-Omoku community. I wanted to buy a slot and I told Fabian about it and he was angry, and asked me why I didn’t want to continue with the business. Before then, we had contributed money to starte oil bunkering. He said that we should get fully involved in bunkering business if I knew I was tired of armed robbery and kidnapping. I refused to yield to Fabian’s suggestion because Icelander boys were disturbing us.
“Fabian then set me up. He told one of his brothers who was working with the DSS that I had links with two notorious, wanted armed robbers known as Raul and Power.He told the DSS that if I was arrested, I would take them to Raul and Power. I spent two weeks at the DSS custody and was later transferred to SOS.”
According to him, when he was released, he wanted to go back to the bunkering business but the boys warned him not to come to their area “because my friend had already told them that I was the one who refused to give them our rifles.
“In 2014, one of my friends, called Chike who is also a member of Vikings called me and said that he has stolen two rifles from General Fly camp and he wanted me to join him so that we can start working together. Our first operation was at Ogbogoro, Obio-Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, where we kidnapped a man who was in his early 40s. I invited Kennedy and one of the members of Vikings called Boma and we kidnapped the man. We got about N1.5Million from that deal and we used N1million to buy two rifles.
“After that, we kidnapped a lady at Rukpoku. That was when Ikadoi Isere, aka White Witch, joined us. I knew him through his brother, IJB, who is also a member of the Vikings. His brother approached me and implored that I carried him along. Someone told Chike of a lady that was carrying a huge sum of money and we kidnapped her and she paid two million ransom before we released her.”
He said that five of them went for that job and by then he had become the leader of the group and he got N600, 000, gave Chike N500, 000 and the rest N300, 000. Later on, one James joined the gang on the recommendation of Kennedy. James brought a job involving money that was being moved from a bank at Alakaya, off Trans-Amadi to Port Harcourt International Airport. “James monitored the movement of the money from the bank and they intercepted the vehicle carrying the money at Iguruta roundabout on Airport road. Kennedy blocked the road with a car and jumped out. I tried shooting, but my riffle refused to fire. Chike came and he was shot and he fell, then Boma and White Witch rained bullets on their vehicle, the money in that vehicle was in foreign currencies. When we fired into the car some of the money was damaged. I got N4.5million, I also gave Chike, N4.5million because of his injury, then I gave Kennedy, Boma and White Witch, N3million each. James who brought the job got N1.5million because he was the one who trailed the movement of the money.
“I bought a Lexus SUV for N2million; I gave N100,000 to an Orphanage home and contributed N150,000 to the roofing of my church. Each time I had a successful operation, I would buy bags of rice, noodles, diapers, baby milk and some money for orphanage homes. I also gave some money to my mom and sister.
“Seven months later, James called and said that he had another job at Diamond bank at Trans-Amadi. We were five and we attacked a bullion van that was trying to offload money at the bank. When we attacked the bank, James and Boma, went into the bank with two short guns and they pretended as if they wanted to use the bank ATM. But when they moved closer to where the money was being offloaded, they shot into the air and the people offloading the money ran away. Then, Kennedy and White Witch and I, drove very close to the bank and loaded some of the money into our car. The bullion van was big and it was carrying lots of cash. We made about N75 million and I got N15million as my share, I gave White Witch, Boma, Kennedy and James, N12million each. I also gave Chike who wasn’t around because of his injury and the people who brought the job N10 million each”.
Gogo tried to quit after the successful operation but greed would not let him, as he noted, “after sharing that money I told every member of the gang to go and look for what to do with their life with the money because for me, I was no longer interested in the business and God had given me all I was looking for.
“After giving aids to children at the orphanages, I used part of the money to rent an apartment in Lagos and I paid for two and half years rent at Ajao Estate. I also bought furniture and other properties I needed. I then bought two plots of land in Bayelsa, I invested the rest into oil bunkering.
“White Witch took me to one of his uncles who was into bunkering and the man was very successful, and assisted me in getting into the business but the money involved was too much. Then, the general elections were approaching and White Witch told me that he wanted to become a counselor in his local government. We then met with his local government chairman and pledged our loyalty to him. We also met with the House of Representatives member from his constituency and assured them that we would support and work for them. But at that time, we were very broke and James was also calling that there was job for us.
“So a month before the 2015 election, we had no money to fulfill our promises so, we went for an operation at UST Campus, Port Harcourt. We trailed a bullion van carrying money into the bank and carted away a large sum of money, but White Witch went and tried to open the back gate of the bank but he was shot on his foot. We exchanged fire with the policemen and escaped. But the policemen who gave us a hot chase shot the boot of the vehicle and one of the boxes containing the money fell. We didn’t stop and they shot all the tyres. We eventually stopped and snatched another car and escaped. We left a rifle and lot of magazines before we left the scene. We made about N39 million from that operation and I got the highest share of N10million. I gave N6million each to the rest of the gang including Chike and the guys who brought the job. I used part of my money to mobilize people to vote for PDP though I was given N1million for the election job but it wasn’t enough. I also invested part of that money in the bunkering business and I bought a drum set for a prophet who was praying for me at Bomadi, Delta State. With the new money I injected into the bunkering business, the site was almost completed.”
Blood in their hands
Their attacks and kidnapping activities were legion. Apart from killing over two policemen at their duty posts, their bullets felled other people.
According to hem, they had 11 AK47 rifles, one Lar rifle, three Beretta pistols, dynamites and 95 loaded magazines, but lost 70 loaded magazines and AK 47 rifles in April to the Army when they went for sea piracy along Nembe creek, Bayelsa State.