Before the arrest of 29-year-old Lekan Ismail Adewale, a.k.a. Asumo, on May 28, 2016 in Ibadan, Oyo State, he rode in the crime world like a king, but when he was arrested, he wore a calm look that could make someone who had not listened to his confession to think that his arrest was a mistake.
Before his arrest, Asumo and his gang members were reported to have terrorised Nigerian citizens in Lagos, Oyo and Ogun states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mr Leye Oyebade had told Saturday Tribune that during a press briefing recently that Asumo’s gang had engaged in series of armed robbery operations at different areas of Ibadan, and had since been on the wanted list of the command.
Oyebade said that the suspect’s arrest was made possible by the information received by his command at about 9:00p.m on May 28 that Asumo was sighted along Idi-Ape Iwo Road area of Ibadan. It will be recalled that the story of the arrest of one of his gang members, Saheed Mohammed, was reported in the May 1, 2016 edition of Saturday Tribune. Also arrested with Saheed was a native doctor, called Rasheed Adifala, who was allegedly providing charms to fortify the suspects.
Their mode of operation, Saturday Tribune learnt, was to target ATM users at night, bundle them into their operational vehicle and take round the city to withdraw money from their accounts till the early hours of the morning, before they are released.
Aside this, the gang also specialised in snatching cars from their owners at gunpoint, it was further gathered. Though Asumo was arrested in Ibadan, he was said to have been transferred to the Ogun State Police Command for further investigations into his criminal activities in the state.
Saturday Tribune held a comprehensive interview with the suspect. Below are the excerpts:
I am from Ayetoro in Ogun State but I live in Abeokuta. I trained as an electrical/electronic technician. Due to lack of fund, I was picking scraps to get money to rent a shop. That was how I met Austin, Abayomi, Dele and Danladi who introduced me into robbery. I noticed that they were never broke while I always struggled to survive after selling the scraps we were picking.
One day, they told me that I was not smart. They promised to take me to an outing. I followed them on a day and they entered a shop and robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight. One of us was caught during my second outing with the gang and he was used to trace me. That was how I landed in Oba Prison, Abeokuta in March 2013. I left prison in December 2015 and the case was still going on before my recent arrest.
While in prison, I met one Tosin and he assisted me in perfecting my bail condition. When I came out, I linked up with him because he gave me his number when he was leaving. I asked him what we could do to make money and he said we would go into car snatching. Both of us travelled to Cotonou, Republic of Benin to buy two guns.
Three others – Sina, Michael and Saheed joined to make a five-member gang. We started car snatching. We operated in Lekki area of Lagos State. We snatched a Nissan Almera at Iyana Mortuary at Abeokuta in Ogun State. That was what led to Sina’s arrest by SARS operatives in Abeokuta.
We also operated at Challenge (Hyundai Elantra), Ring Road (Toyota Camry) and Iwo Road (Honda CRV) areas of Ibadan, Oyo State, as well as Abuja. It was Tosin who took us to Ibadan because he is an indigene. Sina has been charged to court and is currently in Ibara prison. Saheed was arrested with the Hyundai car on Iseyin Road by SARS operatives in Oyo town while he was coming from his Iseyin hometown.
My role in the gang
I used to be one of those that would ‘arrest’ our victims after we must have blocked them with our operational vehicle and drawn our guns. Saheed, Michael and I used to handle the guns. Our operational vehicles were also snatched from owners.
The Toyota Camry 2007 model that we snatched at gunpoint at Lekki was sold for N280,000 and I got N60,000. I bought a Toyota Rav4 with robbery proceeds.
We live in different states but we used to call one another to come together whenever we had any work to do. I live in Abeokuta, Tosin in Abuja, Saheed in Iseyin, Michael in Lagos and Sina in Abeokuta. Tosin was the one keeping the guns and he usually brought them whenever there was work to do.
How I was arrested
I was in Ibadan where a travel agent had helped me in securing a South African visa. I wanted to withdraw some money from an ATM to pay for my ticket because the visa will lapse in July. I decided to travel out to hustle because I know that the robbery I engaged in was not good. I am still amazed how police got to know I was there and arrested me.
Why I chose robbery
I wanted to gather money to travel out of Nigeria. It was not as if I loved what I was doing.
I had a wife who bore two children for me but she left when I was arrested in 2013, leaving my two kids with my mother. My mother lives alone in Abeokuta but my father is married to another woman. My mother has four of us and I am the first child and son. My mother is a pepper miller. I never wish my children to take after me.
Gang members’ fate
Other gang members have also met their Waterloo as they are either in police net or are in prison awaiting trial. They are Michael who is in Ikoyi prison; Sina in Ibara Prison; Saheed detained at SARS Oyo and Tosin who has been arrested in Abuja.