There were gasps of shock when a 16-year-old, who has a penchant for stealing in churches, confessed that yearning for sex and the need to financially satisfy his 13-year-old lover, were reasons behind his drive to commit more crimes.
More outrage followed when it was discovered that the teenager, Christian Sylvanus James, had been stealing tithes and offerings from Full Life Christian Church, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where he worships. James, a secondary school student (SS1) of Aka Offot Community Secondary School, Uyo, was accused by the police of specialising in stealing car batteries and burgling churches.
The suspect, who spoke with New Telegraph, described himself as an expert in stealing car batteries. He confessed to have been committing such a crime since he was 12 years old. According to him, he had made a lot of money from the crime.
He had N60, 000.00 in his wallet when police arrested him. Although James further confessed to have stolen from several churches, people said he went too far when he decided to steal from his own church. He said: “I worship at Full Life Church. I was able to know how and where they keep offerings and tithes, including other property, so I was able to steal them.”
The waterloo trouble started for James and his gang after a church member discovered that the suspect was behind the series of missing tithes and offerings in the church. The member alerted others and soon, the church mobilised and went to lodge a complaint at the police station. Police went after James.
A police source said: “The boy confessed to have run away from home when he was just 10-years-old to stay at a place called Plaza area in Akwa Ibom. That area is inhabited by criminals. It must have been where he imbibed bad habits.” James, who confessed to have started living a wayward life since he was 10, said that he regretted lavishing all he stole on his 13 years old lover and fellow students at Aka Offot Community School.
Arrested along with him are members of his gang, identified as Victor Umo Eno (16), Edward James (17) and Aniebet Bassey Ubong (17). They confessed to be Jame’s partners in crime. James further said: “I have given my girlfriend over N250, 000 from the money I stole. The last I gave her was N20, 000.
When I was arrested, she denied collecting money from me and was given bail with the help of a lawyer. I regret my actions.” When asked why he spent such huge sums of money on his girlfriend, James said: “The sex I get from my 13-year-old girlfriend is the reason for my generosity.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Cordelia Nwawe, noted that James and his gang had stolen several car batteries across the state in the last few years. She also explained that the youthful gang of thieves had stolen several property of churches within the Uyo metropolis.
She stressed that some of the stolen church items had been recovered from the suspects.