A 26-year-old Republic of Benin national, Kwami Ajana, has told operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Lagos State Police Command, that he became an armed robber because he was determined to become rich and take his family out of poverty. Ajana explained that whenever he and others were leaving Benin Republic for Nigeria, family members used to urge and pray for them to ensure they make money through whatever means and bring it home. The suspect added that when he entered Nigeria, his head was filled with ideas of different ways of becoming rich.
He said: “I just couldn’t afford to return to Benin Republic without making substantial money. If I return to my country without money, nobody would welcome me.” Ajana was arrested along with two other gang members identified as Abiodun Ridwan (29) and Ridwan Salaudeen (28).
They were arrested after they had robbed a couple of their money and other valuables at Oko-Afo area of Badagry. According to the police, the suspects used to hire guns for operation from a cultist. The cultist belongs to the Eiye Confraternity. After the operation, the guns would be returned and some money given to him. Ajana said: “I came to Lagos in 2010 to become rich.
I came from a poor family and to become rich has always been my driving force. I want to take my family out of poverty and that was why I took to robbery. “When I got to Lagos, I was living with my uncle, Adisa, where I learnt bricklaying. Yes, I was making money through bricklaying, but it was not coming the way I wanted. I left bricklaying and bought a motorcycle to become a commercial motorcyclist.” The suspect said after the Lagos State government stopped motorcyclists from operating because of COVID-19, he realised that he had not achieved his aim of hitting big money and brainstormed on his next point of action. He added: “I have not achieved my aim. I thought of what next to do. It was during that period I met and became friends with Abiodun and Salaudeen.
We met at a party and became friends. We then formed a gang. “We formed the gang to achieve our aims of becoming rich. After we had succeeded in some robbery operations, we bought a gun from the cult guy for N30,000. I bought the gun from him because I wanted to continue with my robbery until I had achieved my dream.” The second suspect, Abiodun, said after meeting at the party, they formed a robbery gang. He said: “The three of us met at a party and we became friends. After we shared our experiences and realised that life had been tough on us, we decided to form the robbery gang.
I provided the locally-made gun we used. I’m a member of Eiye Confraternity, which was why I was able to get the gun. I got the gun from our number called Abobo. I lied to him that I wanted to use it to protect myself. He believed and gave me the gun. “In our first operation, we robbed at Oko-Afo.
We went from house to house, robbing residents of their money and their valuables. When we got to the last house on the street, we noticed that a generator was still working and put it off. When the owner came to check what happened to it, we gained access into the apartment.
We threatened to kill the wife if the husband didn’t cooperate with us. To prevent the wife from being killed, the husband brought out N500,000 and we took six phones, a laptop, a wristwatch and a trinket box from them. Other apartments didn’t have money like the couple. After the operation, we made about N700,000 from the street.” Stating his own story, Salaudeen said his role in the gang was to act as a lookout during operations. He said: “Whenever we enter victims’ houses, what I do is to pick anything available. On the fateful day we went to rob the couple, I was the one who ransacked their apartment and collected their phones and laptop. The money was handed over to me. We don’t kill; rather we threaten our victims with the guns. Our mission is not to kill, but to make enough money.
We are just trying to survive. After the operation, we sold some of the phones and the laptop, but I decided to keep one to myself. It was through the stolen phone, which I was using, that police tracked and arrested me. The police used me to catch other members of our gang. I regret my action.
I don’t know what my mother would be going through right now.” The state Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu, reacting to the arrest of the suspects, warned other criminals planning to come to the state, to have a rethink. He said: “The Lagos State Police Command, under my control, will not allow criminal elements to operate in the state. They should stay in other states or relocate to other states if they are already in Lagos. If not, we will catch and bring them to book.”