By ALBERT AKPOR
It all started about four years ago at a football field in the heart of Benin city, the Edo state capital where Lucky Iyamu 23, Kingsley Ofeya 31, ShakaYakubu Oseki 28, Kelvin Omotuemhen 26, Onyeka Joseph 42 and Jude Egumahe 24 met.
That evening meeting was originally for the purpose of playing football but something remarkable happened while awaiting the arrival of others with a view to forming a formidable team. These six jolly good friends soon discovered that they were joined together by fate: no good parental background, no credible means of livelihood and they all dropped out of school and were into petty stealing.
Except for Lucky Iyamu who was relatively new in the group, the remaining five had been meeting at the same field where after playing football, they would go their different ways at dusk to either steal money or foodstuffs at the open market in order to feed for the next day.
L-R: Kingsley Ofeya, Kelvin Omotueme, Jude Egumahe and Onyeka Joseph
But the coming of Lucky Iyamu into the group changed the tempo of their illicit activities into a much more sophisticated dimension. Incidentally, Lucky had on the previous day gone into one of the pentecostal churches near Oba market in the city to steal a rug when he was confronted by those who later became his friends and colleagues- in- crime.
In fact, it was the confrontation that necessitated the meeting the following day at the field and rather than play football which was originally the plan, they decided to take their destinies in their hands by going into full scale highway robbery. Though the idea was unanimously agreed upon but the group was confronted with one major problem; the guns.
How to procure guns and ammunition became a draw back to their mission and aspiration. However, Onyeka Joseph, the Isiala-Ngwa born father of three was on hand to provide solution for that. He immediately got some money from the gang, traveled to Awka, the Anambra state capital and soon, the gang could boast of three locally made pistols and several cartridges. Thus, a highway armed robbery gang had been formed!
Confessing how he became what he is today amid tears, Lucky Iyamu, the last man to join the gang who later became their leader for his dexterity in arms handling blamed his ordeal on poor parental upbringing. “If I had a good father who cared for his children, I would not have been here today.
I was in Edo College but dropped out not be cause I was dull but because I could not pay my school fees. I started pushing cart and making little money to take care of myself. From there, I started picking pockets and stealing both money and food stuffs.
It was one evening that I wanted to go and steal carpet in a church that I met Kelvin and others who initially confronted me but when they discovered that I was into what they equally do, they invited me to a field where we formed the gang of highway robbers .
That was how we started. But sir, robbery or kidnapping is not a good thing to do. If I have an opportunity in my next world, I shall campaign against crime and criminality. It is not the best. So when we eventually got the three guns from Awka, we were happy and ready for real business.
I took one, Kelvin held one while Onyeka held the third one. Other members of the gang carried cutlasses and jack-knives. So we decided that we should start from the Benin/Sapele road. That night, we robbed three buses and made N3m and snatched one Toyota Camry.
The vehicle was sold to a man who gave his names as Barrister Nwosu for N400,000. The following week again, we robbed along Benin/Auchi road and later went to a bank in Aganegbode where we killed a Police inspector and collected his AK47 Assault riffle.
There, we also snatched another Toyota Camry 2008 model which we sold to the same man for N600,000. We had money everywhere and realized that we wasted years doing petty stealing. We go to clubs, enjoy ourselves and spent money but it was Saka who sold the idea that we should settle down and get accommodation for ourselves and perhaps, invest the money we made while we still continue with the business.
That was how I rented two bedroom flat, bought a car and picked a girlfriend who now has a baby boy for me. Saka and others went to Onitsha and started poultry business; but we normally communicate through GSM phones when to converge and strike. After about two weeks, Saka and Onyeka brought the idea that we should strike at Agbor/Asaba road but I was afraid because there used to be many roadblocks along that highway.
During the day, we surveyed the road and discovered that immediately after the boundary between Delta and Edo state, roadblocks are not so much and policemen are not many along the road.
We went and carried some logs and kept them by the bush and decided that Kelvin and Jude will go to Upper Iweka in Onitsha to board a bus while we will mount road block as if we were policemen and when the luxury bus drives to a stop at the checkpoint mounted by us, we will quickly deflate the tyres, jump into it and quickly throw arms to our guys in the bus.
So that was how we were operating and it was fetching us good money. But when the new Oga of police came, he banned roadblocks and our business became affected. We could no longer mount road blocks anymore, so we decided to change our operations to kidnapping.
We kidnapped one business man in Benin and he paid N5m and after collecting my share, I decided to travel outside the country. I went to Libya while my members continued the job. But when my girlfriend put to bed, I came back to the country not knowing that some of my guys have been arrested and they mentioned my senior brother’s name. He too was arrested but because I know he was in the police cell for my sake, I decided to surrender myself only to discover that all my guys have been arrested.”
Reacting to the arrest, the Commissioner of Police, CP, Edo state, Mr. Olayinka Balogun said when he was posted to the city, he was greeted with the menace of kidnapping and armed robbery and therefore, decided to put certain measures to checkmate the menace in place. The measure Balogun said, “is already yielding dividend.
The fact is that I met an anti-kidnapping department in place in the command but I decided to invigorate it through credible hands and provision of logistics to work with. I am one police officer who believes that productivity can be greatly enhanced through provision of incentives and clean environment within which to operate and that is what we are doing, and we are poised to sustain that till we leave here.”
Source : The Vanguard Nigeria