Babatunde (surname withheld) is the son of a popular professor and a federal university lecturer. Also he was trained as a lawyer, however, he now practises as a strong member of a robbery syndicate which specialized in robbing their victims of their posh cars and their belongings and selling the vehicles as Tokunbo.
The syndicate is divided into two gangs – While the robbery gang goes in search of exotic vehicles and would disposes owners of them, Babatunde allegedly gets a ready market for the vehicles and ensures that the robbery gang members are well taken care of after each operation by lodging them in hotels.
Their cups became full when they went to rob a retired Rear Admiral in his home in Ogbomoso, Oyo State, in May, 2013. The deadly gang was said to have dealt with members of the Rear Admiral’s household, after which they disposed him of his Toyota Highlander 2008 model, among other things.
According to the Oyo State police commissioner, Mohammed Indabawa, while speaking with journalists at a press briefing last Monday, when the case was reported, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad at Oyo/Ogbomoso axis, led by the officer in charge, DSP Olusola Aremu, began a discreet investigation resulting in the arrest of suspects including Ayomide Oyeyipo (24), Olanrewaju Ayomide a.k.a. Peter (23), Olabode Seun, Oladapo Olatide (37), Abdulmalik Abiodun Ojulari and Akeem Afolabi (30).
Others are Babatunde (37), Segun Adeyale (39), Isaac Nwose (42) and Williams Asuwata (47).
Indabawa said that vehicles recovered from them included Toyota Highlander with registration number LND 758 AG belonging to the Rear Admiral, Hoda Accord, LND 130 AT, Honda Accord, EPE 986 BD, Toyota Corolla, LN 690 EKY, unregistered Range Rover, unregistered Honda Crosstour, unregistered Toyota Highlander, unregistered Toyota Camry, Honda Accord with registration numberAP 835 ZAR, Honda Accord FDY 119 AA, Toyota Corolla LSD 120 BF, Toyota Camry AA 495 SHA and Toyota Camry FST 226 BH.
Also recovered from them were one English pistol, two locally-made cut-to-size pistols, eight laptops and 15 handsets. Below are their confessional statements during an interview with newsmen:
Ayomide Oyeyipo from Kwara State
I am popularly called Mayowa. I was living in Ilorin but when things were not going smoothly, I came to my friends in Ogbomoso and started working with a construction company. I left for Ilorin again but returned to Ogbomoso. I was working for a retired Colonel in the barracks in Ilorin but I used to go and play with my friends. All these happened this year. I later started living with them. One day, they told me that we should go and rob in Ogbomoso. We robbed our victims of his vehicle and took laptops, phones and some other things.
I took the English pistol that was recovered from me from the Colonel I was working for. I used to go to his office. One day, he put a nut (bullet) in the pistol and it got stuck. I called a policeman to help him and that one took it to his office to remove the stuck bullet. Instead of me returning the gun and bullet to my boss, my friends advised me to keep them. That was how I ran away from him.
The lawyer promised to pay N1.4 million for the Highlander but gave an initial N600,000. I was given N50,000. He also bought EOD from us. My gang members were Ayomide Olanrewaju, Seun, Dapson and Saheed.
Ayomide Olanrewaju a.k.a. Peter
We stole Highlander in Ogbomoso and took it to lawyer in Lagos. I was arrested at Ojoo area of Ibadan.
My two friends, Mayowa, Seun and I stole one Toyota Camry (Muscle) at Under-G area of Ogbomoso. I was called from my girlfriend’s house and they had two guns belonging to Mayowa and Dapson.
I was called by my friend, Abiodun, one morning and he asked if I could drive. He said he wanted us to go and snatch a vehicle. We saw two women at Tanke area of Ilorin and snatched a Toyota Camry (muscle) from them. Abiodun was the owner of the gun we used. We went to Ogbomoso after calling the buyer, Dapson, unknown to us that he was with SARS. That was how we were arrested.
Isaac Nwose from Kwale, Delta State
I am a driver to the lawyer. Whenever the boys came, lawyer would tell me to lodge in a hotel and ask me to take the vehicle to his father-in-law’s house. I have driven five for him. I didn’t know the vehicles were stolen ones until April this year. I told my brother and he said we should go to the police station after I must have concluded my traditional marriage.
I was in my hometown for the ceremony when my boss called me that he wanted to see me. I was arrested by the police when I came. All I have realised from my boss is N350,000.
Williams Asuwata from Cross River State
I have auto shop at Number 3, Oso Street, Opebi, Ikeja. No, I don’t deal in stolen vehicles. It was Segun that brought me in contact with the lawyer. Segun was a car dealer but he does not have a shop. Since I started my car shop two years ago, I have been seeing him in different car shops. They are many like that. When they bring customers to buy cars, you give them commission.
Last month, Segun told me that lawyer brought in vehicles he wanted to clear. He brought an unregistered Highlander to me one evening. They said they would sell for N4 million but I said I would pay N3.5 million. I gave him initial N500,000 and he issued me a receipt. The following morning, I transferred the balance of N3 million into his account. He gave me the spare key, the Customs papers and issued me a second receipt
Olajide Oladapo a.k.a. Dapson
I am from Ogbomoso. I repair computers. I was a member of a robbery gang. I also drove a snatched car to Lagos State. I did it because I needed money. I was given N50,000. I also joined in snatching a Toyota Venza. I had a gun given to me by First Born and I gave it to Mayowa. First born is already serving a jail term in Oyo prisons. We took the vehicles to Tunde, the lawyer, in Lagos.
About seven laptops that were taken from our victims were also sold to me, which I in turn sold to others to make money.
Abdulmalik Abiodun Ojulari
I am one of the armed robbery gang members. We were five in number. Others are Peter, Mayowa, Dapson, Akeem amd I. I was with them when they snatched Toyota Venza and Toyota Camry. We snatched the latter from a woman in Ilorin and wanted to sell it to Dapson, unknown to us that he was already with Oyo SARS. He told us to wait for him somewhere and that was where we were arrested.
Seun Olabode, a casual staff member of PHCN
I belong to a gang comprising Dapson, Mayowa and Peter. I have snatched two vehicles with them. I don’t have a gun. It is only Mayowa and Dapson who have guns. I was given N50,000 after the operation where we stole the Highlander. I also joined them to snatch a Toyota Camry (Muscle) in Osogbo. I joind them about three months ago.
Segun Adeyale (39) from Edidi, Kwara State
I was a car dealer but my business nose-dived when Fashola’s government drove us from where were staying by the riverside.
The lawyer Tunde called me one day and told me that he had one Highlander that he wanted to sell. I asked for the year of manufacture and he said 2008. I asked for the features and price. He told me. I asked if I could see it. He brought the Highlander and he told it belonged to his friend who came from the United States and was owing him some money. He said the friend asked him to sell and deduct his debt from it. I called Mr Williams whom I knew as a dealer and he bought the vehicle for N3.5 million. Mr Williams gave him N500,000 cash and paid n3 million into his account.
I am a lawyer by profession. I studied at the … University and finished in 2004. I am from Ekiti State. I don’t have a chamber but squat around any time I had a job to do. I am married with two kids. My wife works in a bank.
I was arrested in connection with robbery and recovery of stolen vehicles. It is true I am involved. I buy vehicles from armed robbers and I know that is what they do. I usually get the vehicles from Mayowa. I knew him through one Lekan. Lekan called me that someone gave him my number. I bought the Toyota Highlander snatched from Ogbomoso for N1.5 million but the market value is between N4 million and N4.2 million. I sold it to an automobile dealer, one Mr. Williams for N3.5 million.
The vehicle was brought to me by Peter and Mayowa. Mayowa and one other guy also brought one Honda Accord (End of Discussion). I paid N550, 000 for it. There was also another Toyota Venza brought by Dapson. The market value is N4 million but I paid them N1.5 million. I gave one blue EOD to a friend of mine in Abuja. I was owing him some money. I sold a green EOD to a colleague of mine for N1.4 million but I bought it for N550, 000.
I started the ‘business’ in February this year. I am full of regrets, please don’t bring my family into this.
The police commissioner however called on members of the public who might have lost vehicles of the brands listed to visit Oyo State Police Command with proofs of ownership. He added that the suspects would soon be charged to court.