A gang of armed robbery suspects recently rounded up in Lagos by operatives of Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) has revealed how they use the financial proceeds of their criminal career to take care of their members behind bars.
In a fraternal relationship that defies logic, some of them who were one-time prison inmates before they were released on bail and later went back to the life of crime, confessed to sending parts of their shares of robbery operations to their colleagues in prison to continue to sustain them until they too are out of the prison.
The suspects who claimed to have been forced back to the life of armed robbery by the unfortunate jobless circumstance they found themselves after release, said the decision to send part of their criminal proceeds to take care of their colleagues in prison comes as an unsigned memorandum of understanding or pact they had while they too were behind bars.
The 10-man gang, now in IG RT net, has been accused of terrorizing residents and commuters in Abule-Egba, Egbeda, Ifo, Ota, Iyana-Ipaja, Igando, Badagry areas of Lagos as well as Ogun State.
They were declared wanted when one of their victims, a trader in Alaba International Market, petitioned the IGP after his shop was burgled and goods worth millions of naira carted away, including a cash of N2 million.
Saturday Sun learnt that the suspects identified as Musibau Ogunbiyi, Rilwan Olarenwaju, Idowu Taofeek, Sadiq Alada, Akeem Hassan, Wahab Wasiu, Raza Isah, Ibrahim Olagoke, Tijani Koyun and Tijani Kudus, were sniffed out of their hideouts in various parts of Lagos, weeks after the incident.
Allegedly released from prison custody, on bail, majority of them confessed to IRT operatives in Lagos that they were forced back to crime to meet up with the target given to them while in prison.
‘We’re expected to protect our members in and outside prison’
Ogunbiyi, aged 31, who aspires to become as famous as MC Oluomo, Lagos leader of the National Union of Road Transport Worker (NURTW) who he said he respects so much said the decision to help their colleagues in jail comes as an incumbent task that must be done.
His words: “I am a native of Iba, in Lagos State. I was not fortunate enough to further my education because of the financial situation of my parents. I trained as a mechanic and while in training I got a job with a waste disposal company. Unfortunately my boss, who was envious that I am doing well, framed me up and I was sacked. While out of job, a friend advised me to join the Road Transport Workers in the state. He said that if I am focused I would grow to be a leader one day.
“I did not think twice because I know so many of them that are doing well especially the great Oluomo. I was ready to give my life to prove my worth. But in 2009 police arrested and sent me to prison. I went to fight at a park in Alaba International market, Ojo and was arrested. Even the people who invited me to help them fight forgot me in prison. It was while in prison that I got to know that the only way out was to join a cult group in the prison, the Eiye fraternity. I was advised that this was my fastest ticket out of prison since I do not have money to hire a good lawyer. I was initiated and just as they promised, I got a lawyer and within a year I was released on bail.
“As a cult member, you are expected to protect your members both in and outside the prison. I was introduced to so many of them and 90 percent were in prison over one armed robbery incident or kidnapping. I tried my best to get a decent job, but the news had spread that I was an ex-convict.”
Jobless and hungry, Ogunbiyi alleged that he had no choice than to contact one Tunde whom he met in prison. “I told him my situation and he advised me to join his gang. I agreed and days later we assembled at Egbeda with about two guns. There were six of us and we got three motorbikes for patrol that night.
“Luckily while on Idimu Road, we saw one man standing beside his car and chatting with someone across the other side of the road. In less than a minute, we surrounded him, took all the valuables with him. Luckily, we found about N250, 000 cash with him. I was surprised at the success and Tunde told me that one of his boys assured him that the man was with money. From my share, I was able to send some to our members in prison. Weeks later, my friends called me that an Igbo trader that deals in sale of motorbikes was making huge sales daily and they want me to lead them to rob the man.
“I told them that I had no gun for the operation but they persuaded me to use my contacts to get a gun. Then I called Tunde and told him about the operation. We got N2 million after the operation and my share was N230, 000. It was God that sent that money because I lost my father around that time, and the money was enough for me to contribute towards his burial. I was still in my family house after the burial when policemen whom I thought came to console the family arrested me.”
‘We robbed to meet up with agreed amount for our freedom’
The second suspect Olarenwaju who was also released from prison on bail said he had no choice but to return to crime in order to meet up with the agreed amount he was asked to pay for his freedom.
“While in prison, you are told the amount to pay on a weekly basis, to help sustain those who are still in prison,” he said. “I had no other choice than to join others who are already on ground. I cannot count the number of times that I have participated but all I can recall is that it is within Alimosho Local Government. I am good at riding motorbike, so that is normally my responsibility. The trader operation was one of the best because I got N200, 000 as my share. I sent N50, 000 to the prison and used the rest to help myself and family.”
The fourth suspect, Sadiq, alleged that he was the one that gave the information to the others about the activities of the Igbo trader. “I used to buy motorbike from him and I have noticed how customers flood his shop on a daily basis. I shared that information with Olarenwaju who suggested that we must rob the man. I thought it would be an easy one till we were arrested. I got N70, 000 as my share and I regret participating. When I was released from prison, my mother gave me money to buy a motorbike and start my life all over again. I have broken her heart again and I wonder if she will ever forgive me.”
On his part Wasiu popularly known as Eni-Money amongst his friends said that his main role was to monitor their victim and suggest the best time to strike. “I can be found at bus-stops, opposite banks or any major shopping plaza in Egbeda or Iyana Ipaja. After my secondary school days I was forced to marry the girls that I impregnated in our area. My responsibility doubled when I could hardly feed myself. I tried to learn how to construct roofing sheet but when our boss lost his money everyone was arrested. I still can’t explain how the money ended up in my pocket. I was arrested and sent to prison where I met Tunde. My family helped to get lawyer who managed to get me released on bail.
“When I was out of the prison, Tunde was also out and we met and decided to help each other. We were also given a target of N20, 000 a month which must be sent to the prison. I know that Tunde is an experienced armed robber and this was the only way I can survive and take care of my children. I am handsome, so it will be hard for anyone to suspect that I am spying.
“About three years before I was arrested, I had given several information to the gang and they were successful. We have attacked 8 bank customers especially from GTB and Access banks in Ayobo, Egbeda and Ijegun. My cut after each operation is always big because I have always successfully delivered. I am not proud of my bad life although I was able to build a house and send my children to good schools. I am truly sorry and beg for forgiveness.”
‘I suspect that I am under a spell’
Another suspect, Tijani lamented that he could be under a spell as the man who allegedly lured him into crime was sleeping with his wife. “I cannot explain how Tunde convinced me to be an armed robber,” he said. “I am a trader from Osun State but based in Lagos. I was accused of theft and sent to jail where I met Tunde. He was nice to me and was about to be released from prison. I pleaded with him to visit my wife and children and also assure them that I will soon be out.
“He went to my house and started sleeping with my wife. When I was finally released, I traced him with the intention to kill him but when I got to his house they were sharing the loot from an armed robbery. He pleaded with me to calm down and gave me N100, 000 that day. I guess that was the spell because I begged him to allow me to join his gang. I am living in Apapa area of Lagos, so my job was to alert them whenever I get a good target.”