ONE of the four suspects arrested in Ibadan by Oyo State Police Command for armed robbery, Ifawamide Ayo, has spoken on how he became a member of an armed robbery gang through a prison inmate he met at Agodi Correctional Centre his temporary sojourn there while awaiting fulfilment of bail conditions given by court.
Ayo said that he landed in prison for possession of criminal charms when he had no one to take care of his bail conditions when charged to court, but was introduced to armed robbery by the fellow inmate, simply known as Akube (Senior), when the two of them met after leaving the prison.
Ayo, aged 24, and three other suspects were shown to journalists on December 29, 2023, by the Commissioner of Police, Adebola Hamzat, represented by the police spokesman, SP Adewale Osifeso, during a press briefing. The four suspects were among the 38 arrested for various crimes.
The three others were identified as Abubakar Saheed (21), Abdullahi Fatai, who was also known as Akube (20) and Olukunle Toheeb (21).
Nigerian Tribune learnt that on November 1, 2023 at about 1:30am, Ayo, with other members of an armed robbery gang, invaded the residence of one Abdulkadir (surname withheld) at Olomiyeye Community at Ogbere area of Ibadan.
One of them, identified as Akube, who was also the gang leader but currently at large, reportedly scaled the fence and opened the gate for others to come in. Armed with gun, cutlass and other weapons, they broke the door to the house to gain entry. They reportedly collected a cash of N145,000 and expensive phones before escaping. From the wife’s iTel phone, they were said to have transferred over N100,000 from her bank account through a gang member, Toheeb, whose operation is called ‘wire wire’ after he was given the victim’s sim card.
Again, on November 28, they were said to have gone back to the community, entered another house and collected money, phones and laptops.
On the third operation, only two of them, Ayo and Saheed, went to the same community from Kara, Bodija where they were based. They reportedly tore the burglar proof net and picked a lady’s bag, after which they went to a hideout.
After sharing the money, they were on their way out of the community early in the morning when they met some people from a party.
When challenged, the suspects were said to have told the people that they were also residing in the community. When searched, N45,000 was found on them which increased suspicion. By then, a crowd had gathered, and the robbed woman also came, telling others of her experience during the night. Their first victim, Abdulkadir, also came, unknown to the suspects that he had CCTV at home when they went there. He checked the video in his phone and identified the two who were part of the gang which came to rob his household.
This led to the suspects’ arrest by Ogbere Division, from where they were transferred to Monitoring Unit where they gave details of their operations. They also revealed the names of other members, leading to the arrest of two more while two others remained at large. Recovered from them was a cutlass while the whereabouts of the gang’s operational gun had yet to be known.
Below are excerpts of an interview with the four suspects:
“I’m from Ilesa, Osun State, but my family moved to Ibadan when I was very young. I stopped schooling at Primary Five and started carrying planks at Plank Market, Bodija. I also learnt generator repair but ran from my master and returned to carrying planks. I started smoking marijuana when I was about 15 years old at the same Bodija. I was taught how to smoke by the older guys I interacted with. I left my parents and started sleeping at available places. I was also taking Ice drug.”
My first arrest
“In 2022, I was caught with charms when stopped while riding on okada. I got the charms from a dumpsite. I was arraigned in court and granted bail, but when I could not fulfil bail conditions, I was remanded in prison.
“From there, I called my generator repair master and told him to inform my parents. My parents took care of my bail and I was released after staying in prison for one and a half month. While there, I met a fellow inmate known as Akube. He told me he was arrested for robbery and asked me to always check on him after leaving the prison.
“After some time, we met at Bodija. He took me to a hemp joint owned by one man called Jagaban and introduced me to his gang members — Berry, Ope, Saheed, Bidemi a.k.a Baddest and Sunday. I was taken to Olomiyeye Community.”
How I got a gun
“Jagaban took me to Ikolaba at about 10 p.m. to the house of a Yahoo guy he knew. He hid somewhere. As the guy was typing on his phone, I snatched it and ran away. We went to an uncompleted house to sleep. That was where I found the gun belonging to night guards. We sold the phone for N70,000 and Jagaban gave me N20,000. We even fought over that because I saw it as him cheating me.”
“We got to Olomiyeye after 9 p.m. but hid in a nearby bush until about 2 a.m. when we went to the targeted house. Akube scaled the fence and two others followed him in while Abubakar and I stayed outside. Akube came out with a bag after some time. I got N105,000 as my share.
“The second operation was in the same community, led by Akube. We got phones, laptops and cash. I got N100,000. Toheeb was given sim cards to get money from the victim’s account, but he told us he didn’t get anything. Surprisingly, we saw that the following day, he bought large quantities of Colorado and Ice (illicit hard drugs) and started selling.
“At the third operation, only two of us went. We felt that Akube was overriding us, so Saheed and I decided to go on our own. However, we were caught after the operation.”
On his pregnant wife
“She is an Hausa girl of about 20 years. We met before I went to prison. She was also smoking hemp when I met her. She just stopped when she got pregnant eight months ago. I took her to Oyo Town to live as she started traditional ante natal care with an Osun worshipper. She also wanted to train as a worshipper. I gave her the gun bag to keep but when I went to take it back, she kept ‘posting’ me but never brought it. When I was arrested, we went to her and she told the police she kept it in our Oyo home. We went there but the gun was not found. She later said it was with her friend in Ibadan. However, it was not seen.
I’m 21 years old. I’m from Sokoto State but was born in Ibadan. I finished primary school education and was about getting into secondary school when my father died. A relative took me in and I started iron scrap purchase. Two years after, I left the relative and went to Bodija to continue the scrap iron business, though we used to steal more than we were buying. I started smoking hemp about two years ago when I got to a place at Adegbayi where other iron scrap dealers were also doing the business. There was no way one would get there and not take drug because it used to trigger strength to push heavy trucks.”
How I joined robbery gang
“I knew Ayo when I got to Bodija. I got to know what he was engaged in after some time and decided to join him. I got N50,000 for the first operation but didn’t follow them the second time. I went with Ayo the third time but we were arrested thereafter.”
Abdullahi Fatai a.k.a Akube
“I’m from Ogbomoso, the sixth child of seven had by my parents. My mum is dead.
I learnt vulcanising but started looking for money for my graduation. I started sleeping at Kara, Bodija and picking scraps for sale. When I did not get enough money, I started stealing iron, steel and copper wire materials. I was apprehended by Railway police station officers when I went to steal battery. I was transferred to Lagos and later sent to Monitoring Unit. I followed the other Akube once for robbery. I was given N25,000. I was taking Colorado drug.”
Olakunle Toheeb (Wire Wire)
“I’m from Ibadan and learnt fashion designing before I started ‘wire wire.’ It is fraud. Whenever I got a sim card, I would use a code, *565*0#, to check BVN to know if the owner had an account. If the number didn’t have BVN, it means there’s no bank account. Once it has BVN, I would press each bank’s code to know the particular one the victim had account in. If I got the right one, I would buy recharge cards with the account number and it would be debited. I would also receive an alert on the account balance.
“I would sell the recharge card online and proceeds would be shared between the person who gave me the sim card and me.
“I learnt of the fraudulent activity when I went for a training on wood design in Lagos. I was once arrested by Bodija police station and I made up my mind not to do it again. That was why I went to buy Colorado and Ice for sale. But I was not on drugs, I only used to smoke cigarette.”
The police commissioner said that investigation was still ongoing and updates would be provided.