Five suspected armed robbers, who specialised snatching and smuggling cars across Nigerian borders have been arrested. The suspects are Akinjide Orilakun Ibitoye 35 (ring leader), Olayide Atoyide Dada 36, (receiver), Joseph Olawale Olariwaju 33 (ring leader), Osai Nelson Amechi and Olatubosun Fisayo.
They were picked and arrested from different parts of the country for transborder car snatching and smuggling. Since their arrest, they have been singing like birds, revealing how they got involved in crime and their operations, leading to prison lives. The downfall of the car snatching gang started in April 2018, after operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), led by Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari, received intelligence report that the gang had been terrorising people of Kogi, Ondo, Oyo, Osun and Ogun States. After the operatives received the report, they swung into action. On April 4, one of the ring leaders, Ibitoye, who usually moved stolen vehicles to Benin Republic, was arrested along Ilara of Ogun State. Ilara is a border between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
During interrogation, Ibitoye mentioned Dada as one of the receivers of their gang’s stolen vehicles. He alleged that Dada wanted to buy a gun for him, which he was supposed to use to snatch a new Hiace bus from a pastor who usually went to pray on a mountain. On April 18, 2018, another ring leader, Olariwaju was arrested in Ipketumodu area of Osun State. Followed by Amechi, who was arrested at Ibadan toll gate area.
Fisayo, was arrested on June 10, in Osun State. Olariwaju, married with a child, is a Higher National Diploma Holder (HND) holder. He graduated in 2012 from Osun State Polytechnic, where he studied Banking and Finance. The suspect, who described himself as a cultist, disclosed that he joined the Eiye Confraternity in 2009 as an undergraduate. He graduated and went into plumbing engineering in Rivers State.
The office, which he used for his plumbing work in Port Harcourt, got razed by fire in 2013. He decided to return to Ilesa, Osun State, in 2013. Olariwaju said that he would have lived a straight life, but life appeared to conspire against him. Recollecting how he ventured into crime full time, he said on December 27, 2013, everything changed after he attended his school’s old students’ association party, where he ran into an old school friend, Olaniyi Olakunle. He told Olakunle how ill luck had been dogging his footsteps. Olakunle convinced him to join him in smuggling cars from Benin Republic.
Olariwaju said: “On the first day I went to Olakunle’s compound, I saw three vehicles, which he asked us to move to Eket, in Akwa Ibom State. When we returned, he gave me N50, 000; he said it was my driving fee. By January 2014, Olakunle called and told me that he had seven phones, which he wanted me to sell for him. I sold six and kept one to myself. “He told me that we were going to Eket, but on our way, he stopped at Osogbo.
He said that he wanted to pick someone. But before I knew what was happening, he had snatched a car at gunpoint. We took the car to Eket that night. The next day, I told him that I wasn’t comfortable with what he did; he told me that I must live with it, that I was now part of the gang. He gave me N120, 000 when we returned to Osun State.
The police tracked me through the seventh phone, which Olakunle gave me to sell, but I kept for myself.” Olariwaju was taken to the office of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Akure, where he was asked how he got the phone. Police told him to lead them to Olakunle’s home in Ilesa.
“When we got to his house, Olakunle sighted the policemen and jumped out of the window, leaving his wife behind. Police arrested his wife,” said Olariwaju. He continued: “Olakunle’s wife was later released on bail, while I was taken to Eke where we arrested the guy that had been receiving stolen vehicles from Olakunle.
We were charged to court and remanded at Olokuta Prison for three years before I was granted bail. While in prison, I met Amechi, who told me that he was a ‘car receiver.’ “I was released from prison in March 2017. One of my younger brothers took me to a boutique and bought me clothes. He bought a phone for me and gave me an internet fraud formant.
He gave me pictures of people I could impersonate. He encouraged me to go into internet fraud and shun armed robbery. I went into internet fraud and defrauded people in USA, United Kingdom and Canada. The highest money I got from my victims was $270, 000; I spent most of the money on my family. By October 2017, one of my friends, Emmanuel, whom I met in Olokuta Prison, called and said that he was in Ibadan.
He said that he wanted to sell a car. I asked him to meet me at Mokola area of Ibadan. I called a car dealer and asked him to meet me at the same venue. When I got to the venue, I carefully surveyed the area and noticed that the car dealer was inside a vehicle with some policemen.
I ran away and abandoned the vehicle. I relocated to Ilesa, where I met Fisayo Olatubosun. He was my secondary school classmate. “He told me that he was already into armed robbery. Emmanuel called and told me that he had a job for me in Akure. He brought his friends and together, we all went to rob a man of his Corolla Sport car. We took the car to Ilesa, but Olatubosun had a fight with me because I drove the car around. While fighting, we damaged the windscreen of the car. After that incident, I left Olatubosun. Policemen from A Division Ilesa later came to tow the car away. “By February 2018, I had a dream where Olatubosun was beating me. I called and told him that we should reconcile. He was happy and accepted my apology.
By March ending, I received a call from a guy called Osai and he asked if I had a car for sale, I said no. Before then, I had met Akin Ibitoye Orilakun through Emmanuel; together we robbed a Toyota Rav4 in Akure. Emmanuel told me that he had a buyer in Benin Republic, but Orilakun and Emmanuel started fighting, we had to take the car to Lagos.”
Olariwaju said that on February 2018, a gang member, Sunday, invited him to Kaba, Kogi State, to rob a man. Before going for the robbery operation, Sunday told them that he had done his homework and discovered that the victim was rich. When the gang members got to the victim’s house at night, they gained access to his apartment by cutting through the burglary proof. Olariwaju recollected: “We stole the sum of N8milion from the house, but Sunday declared only N4million to us. I was given N800, 000 as my share. I invested the money on my internet fraud business.”
Narrating his own story, Ibitoye, married with four children, said that he was a former carpenter and an upright family man until government demolished his shop. He decided to relocate his business to Benin Republic, where he met one Obalola. Obalola specialised in buying stolen vehicles and wanted Ibitoye to join his gang. He promised to link Ibitoye to the powerful gang that used to supply him cars.
Ibitoye recounted: “We stole a Land Rover 1999 Model and gave it to Obalola. He paid N350, 000. We then stole a Rav4 and gave to him. I later heard that he had been arrested in Nigeria. One of my friends, known as Emmanuel Ife, called and told me that he has a friend, Wale, who was an armed robber. We teamed up and snatched a Rav4 Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) in Akure. Wale and his friends later ran away with the car.” Ibitoye disclosed that in 2016, he went to Olokuta Prison, Where he spent a year and six months. After his release, he went to Benin Republic, where he stole a motorcycle, was caught by a mob and his arm amputated. Ibitoye, rather than change from his criminal ways after losing an arm, still went with other gang members to rob a woman in her house at Apete area of Ibadan.
The car was given to a receiver, who paid N800, 000. After selling the car, the gang members sighted the owner’s phone contact in some documents found in the car and called her, pretending to be local vigilante men that found her stolen car at Ilara area of Ogun State. Filled with happiness and gratitude, the woman transferred N50, 000 to the gang, but never got her car. Fisayo Olatubosun, 26, a tiller, said that he went into crime in 2010.
He said that his sojourn into crime started through an elder brother. He narrated that he and his brother went to a mechanic workshop. While they were there, policemen appeared from nowhere and arrested him and the mechanic, but his brother smartly eluded the policemen.
The car, which was taken to the mechanic workshop to be fixed by Olatubosun’s brother, turned out to be a stolen one. Olatubosun was charged to court and remanded in prison. He disclosed: “While in prison, I was taught how to become a bigger and better criminal. I spent three years in prison and when I was released, I went into burgling of shops. Later, I went into house burglary at Ilesa. Last December, one of my childhood friends, Olawale, told me that he was also into armed robbery. He suggested that we should go to Akure for a robbery operation. We burgled a house and made away with a vehicle from the house.
We took the vehicle to Ilesa. While in Ilesa, Olawale started driving the vehicle around town. I became angry because he could lead us into trouble. We damaged the windows of the vehicle and then abandoned it. I didn’t see him again until I was arrested. Yes, I bought a gun on January 16, 2018, from a Mallam. I paid N22 00 for it and used it for robbery.”
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