The Anti-Robbery Squad of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Yaba, has arrested a four-man gang that had allegedly been terrorising residents of the Ikorodu area of Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the suspects – Akin Ayotunde, Isaac Ogbonna, Sola Dede and Sodiq Lawal – specialised in lurking around houses at night and switching off their victims’ generators before attacking them.
They, however, met their Waterloo last Thursday when they were arrested after invading the apartment of one Bello Hakeem in the Igbe area.
Our correspondent was told that the suspects spent six hours in the victim’s duplex and went away with his car, generator, money, phones, Automated Teller Machine cards, modems, laptops and cash.
They also stole his wife’s jewellery and withdrew N100,000 using one of the ATM cards.
Hakeem told our correspondent that around 11.09pm on Tuesday, he observed that his generator suddenly went off and he asked two of his children to go outside and fix the problem.
“About five minutes after they left, they were forced back into the house by four men, who were armed with knives.
“They ordered us to cooperate with them. They searched the house and made away with three laptops, six phones, three ATM cards, a new 3.5KVA generator, one 75alms battery, two modems, jewellery, cash, and my Toyota Corolla. They held my family hostage for six hours before leaving at about 6am the next day,” he added.
Hakeem, an environmental scientist, said he reported the incident at the Ijede Police Station, adding that the suspects were able to withdraw N100,000 from his First Bank account before he deactivated all the stolen ATM cards.
He said two days after the incident, a friend called him that a car that looked like his own had been put up for sale.
He said operatives from the SCIID, Yaba, were alerted and the suspects were rounded up.
The four suspects, who confessed to the crime, said they operated with knives to avoid bloodshed.
The gang leader, Ayotunde, 27, said,
“I used to sell garri with my grandma in a market before a former Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, demolished shops in the market. I tried another job, but it didn’t work.
“I then sold the idea of robbing houses to my friends and we agreed to use only knives and not guns. We always lurk around developing areas in Ikorodu at night, look for any house that had its generator on, scale the fence and put off the generator. When the occupants of the house come out to check the generator, we attack. We made N60,000 from our first operation in March.
“I was arrested when the man whom I had given the man’s car to called me that he had found a buyer. He said the buyer had paid N700,000 for the vehicle and that I should come for my share. We agreed to meet at a restaurant in Ojota. But on getting there, I discovered that it was a set up and I was arrested.”
Ogbonna, 23, an indigene of Ebonyi State, said he was looking for money for the treatment of his elder sister when he was invited to join the gang.
“My sister needed blood transfusion and I had to look for money by all means. I got N25,000 from the operation,” he added.
The third suspect, 24-year-old Dede, from Ondo State, said he joined the group because he was told nobody would be killed, adding that he needed money to change his apartment.
He said, “An Alfa told me to move out of my family house because there was a spiritual force working against the success of men in the house. I needed money to change my apartment.”
The police also arrested the receiver of some of the stolen items, Akeem Lawal, who claimed that the suspects lied to him that the goods were imported.
The Police Public Relations officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, confirmed the arrest, adding that investigations were ongoing.
She said, “The last house they robbed belonged to a couple who quickly alerted the police. They were trailed and arrested. They are currently undergoing interrogation at the command.”