Some suspected members of robbery/receiver syndicate who had once been arrested and remanded in prison over snatching and stealing of vehicles are in the net of Oyo State Police Command again after they were arrested over similar crime.
The suspects arrested include Ifeoluwa Ayanlere (23), Abdulwahab Kareem (35), Yinusa Isa (38), Safiu Yekini (35), Modi Iliasu (64), Dapo Odekunle (24) and Adekunle Ademola (42).
Others are Oludele Patunola (45) an ex-prison inmate who was once paraded for similar crime, Ojo Adegboyega (40), Badejo Festus a.k.a Abuga (39), also an ex prisoner and Azeez Ismaila (35) and Adebayo Dare (24), an ex-soldier who usually conveyed the gang’s stolen vehicles to other states, Seun Ogunleyin (40) and Anthony Ugwu (46).
Parading the suspects on August 4 at the command headquarters, the former Commissioner of Police, Mr Leye Oyebade, said that some of the suspects were arrested by the command’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Oyo, on July 23 at about 2.30p.m when they intercepted a white Toyota Camry car with registration number FKJ 496 CQ at Apete area of Ibadan.
Oyebade told Crime Reports when the three occupants were interrogated that it was discovered that the car was earlier snatched at gunpoint from the owner, Joshua Adejumo at Jobele area of the state.
He added that his command got to know that the robbery gang specialised in robbing victims of their vehicles and other valuables, while such snatched vehicles were later sold to the gang’s receivers at different locations in the state and many other places in Ilorin, Kwara State. Further investigation led to the arrest of the criminal receivers in Ilorin, Kwara State and Oyo town while five vehicles were recovered.
In addition, Oludele Patunola was reportedly intercepted by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ibadan on July 24 at about 1:30p.m in a Honda CRV with registration number AAA 411 DF which was removed from where it was parked at Apete area at about 4:00 a.m on the same day.
Crime Reports learnt that though the driver of the stolen vehicle was said to have attempted to escape when he saw the SARS operatives, he was pursued and arrested with the vehicle. Oyebade said that Oludele Patunola who was arrested with the stolen vehicle, reportedly confessed to the crime during interrogation and his confession led to the arrest of two other suspects at Idi Odo area of Ibadan where an additional Honda CRV stolen in a similar circumstance was recovered.
He stated further that one of the armed robbery suspects was hit in the leg by bullet when he attempted to escape while other members of the gang were picked up at their hideouts.
This, he added, led to the recovery of additional four stolen vehicles making a total of six. Also recovered were several master/duplicated keys, Oyebade revealed further.
Exhibits recovered from the first gang were a white Toyota Camry car with registration number FKJ 496 CQ, Hyundai Sonata car with registration number AKD 476 DL, and unregistered Toyota Camry car, a Honda Accord saloon car with registration number APP 564 AW, Almera saloon car with registration number AQ 139 FFA.
One of the victims of the gang, Mr Adejumo, narrated his experience to Crime Reports thus: “Some men came to my house in Alausa in Oyo town at about 3.00 a.m. on July 20 with guns. They packed my property away in my car. And when they left, I reported at a nearby police station. I was surprised when the police called me on the fourth day to inform me that my vehicle had been recovered. Through that, the police also recovered the one they stole about a week before mine.”
Another victim, Mr Bamiji Salam, whose vehicle was also recovered, said that it would be his first time of getting to know that a vehicle could be recovered a few hours after it was stolen.
“My Honda CRV was recovered in less than 12 hours. The thieves must have been on the watch out because we had night guards. They opened the gate to our community. I parked the vehicle outside my fence because I was repairing the entrance to my compound. There was steering lock on the vehicle but they removed it. I believe that they had an insider because of the way they escaped when they were pursued,” Mr Salam stated.
One of the suspects, an ex-prison inmate, Patunola, a father of seven and a driver, confessed to Crime Reports that “we stole a Honda CRV at Apete from where it was parked by the roadside. It was Adegboyega who said he knew where we could get a vehicle to steal. We met in SARS cell.
“We discovered that the car was not locked. We took some keys with us; fortunately, one of them opened the car and we took it away. We also stole another vehicle, making two. We were arrested where we were trying to sell it.
It was because of lack of money that made me go back to car stealing when I left prison about two months ago.”
When interviewed, Adegboyega simply said his action was “the devil’s work.”
Another suspect, Adebayo a.k.a. ex-soldier, said: “I was dismissed from the Nigerian Army in 2015 when Boko Haram dislodged us at Kainji, Niger State. I am now a driver. I did not join robbery gang. Olu introduced himself to me as a dealer. I knew him at SARS cell and he gave me his number to help him call his wife when I was released. He called me when he also secured his release and he invited me to a popular club at Ring Road.
“He introduced the business of bringing in vehicles from Cotonou to me and I agreed. About two months after, he told me about a Sport Utility Van that was available which I didn’t like. I gave him N150,000. Since then, I did not see him until he called me and I was arrested by SARS.”
On his part, Badejo said he decided to continue to receive stolen cars because he faced hard times when he was released on bail from prison.