Three policemen, who were dismissed by the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, over their connection to armed robbery, have revealed the roles they played. It was gathered that the policemen were part of a gang of robbers that had been robbing the homes of many Chinese nationals in Lagos State.
The move to exposing the policemen began after a phone, stolen from the home of a Chinese victim, was traced to a gang member. The arrest of the gang member led to the arrest of the three policemen and other gang members. The suspects, who now are in police custody, were alleged to have, between December 2015 and June 2016, robbed about 10 houses belonging to Chinese nationals.
The gang members gain access into the homes of the Chinese by pretending they want to conduct a routine check for illicit drug or to carry out repair works as technicians. If they come in the guise of carrying out a search for drugs, they wear police uniforms, if they come as technicians, they wear overalls.
It was gathered that these policemen would lie to the Chinese expatriates that they had information they that were involved in drug trafficking and currency counterfeiting. A source said: “When they are allowed into the homes of these Chinese people, the gang members would ransack the apartments and cart away all valuables, including cash and electronic gadgets.”
According to a police source, the IGP had been so outraged by their complicity in the crime; he had immediately ordered their outright dismissal and prosecution. The police source further said: “These policemen had tried to plead with the IG, through their godfathers. Some of their godfathers are important personalities in the country. But the IG refused to budge.
He said he wouldn’t allow or accept such nonsense under his watch. He said that God forbids that he should allow those men to escape justice. In fact, those men are going to be jailed.” The source further said that Idris had been inundated with petitions from Chinese nationals over unknown men, in policemen uniforms, robbing them. Idris ordered his Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), to get to the root of the matter. One of the stolen phones was the only clue that the IRT had to work on. But it paid off. The dismissed officers, Sergeant Ochigbo Gabriel, Sergeant Onuh Francis and Corporal Emmanuel Audu, are now looking forlorn.
They were arrested along with some men identified as Peter Owocho, James Momoh, and Sunday Onuh. The youngest gang member, James Momoh, is just 18 years. At an age, when most teenagers of his age were still in school, Momoh had become the bread winner of his family.
He said that he joined the gang because he desperately wanted to take care of his asthmatic father. Moreover, he already owed a lot of people money and saw no way out of his dilemma than to become an armed robber. His said: “I have been borrowing money for long, to take care of my sick father.
After the first operation, I was given some money. I used it to pay off some of my debts. I met Corporal Emmanuel Audu at Ojota. I told him that I needed a job, he was the person that linked me to the gang.” Detectives investigating the case were said to have discovered that some other gangs were also using the same gimmick to rob Chinese folks. It was further gathered that Idris has declared a war on them.
The different sets of gangs and members have been declared wanted. Sunday Onuh, 33, married, with National Diploma Certificate in Business Administration, said that after he left school, he went from one job to another, until he got a job as a security guard with the UK Embassy, Oregun, Lagos State. After three years there, he was sacked.
He however refused to disclose the reason for his sack. He said: “After I lost my job, I bought a Toyota Sienna with the money I had saved. I decided to get married. It was my friend, Jack that led me into crime. I met him when I was preparing for my traditional wedding. He was already into the crime. He told me that he would introduce me to a business.
He said we would go into Chinese people’s houses and pretend to be engineers. He said that if the Chinese people allow us into their houses, we would rob them. He also told me that in case the Chinese were not at home, we would break in. Jack is a chairman. He has several groups he works with. “He took me to just two operations.
One was at Omole and the other was at Gbagada. We were three that went for the operation at the Omole Estate. There was no one in the house. We opened the door with an iron cutter. We stole phones, laptops and cash. I don’t know how much we took, but I was given N500, 000 cash. In the Gbagada robbery, we wore overalls.
We told the expatriates we wanted to repair the light. They opened their doors for us; we went in and robbed them of their phones, laptop and money.” Sunday said he got N45, 000 as his share in the Gbagada operation. A locally made revolver pistol, using 9mm ammunition, belonging to Jack, was given to him to keep.
He further recounted: “When I was arrested after the policemen traced a phone we stole from Gbagada to me, I told them that my gang wasn’t the only one into that sort of operation. I knew a gang, led by Peter, which was also engaging in a similar operation.
I bought a fairly used Camry ‘Tiny Light car’. I wanted to use it for taxi before I was arrested.” Peter Owocho, 30, said he didn’t have a meaningful job. He was tired of doing menial jobs. He decided to try his hands on robbery. He started going to robbery operations with his town’s man called Nelly. He confessed to have gone on three operations with Nelly.
This same Nelly would later tell him about the latest scam of fooling and robbing Chinese nationals. He said: “Nelly told me the modus operandi of the operation. He also told me that the gang was made up of policemen. These policemen usually go into the homes of the Chinese men, demanding to search their apartments over allegations of drug trafficking.
When they are allowed in, they would ransack the apartment and cart away valuables such as mobile phones, Ipads, laptops and money.” Owocho said that after Nelly finished explaining everything to him, he was shocked when he didn’t allow him join his gang. Nelly said that he had already showed him how to fish; he should go and form his own gang and start ‘catching fishes.’
Owocho recollected: “I got to know Sergeant Francis Onuh through Nelly. He also brought Sergeant Gabriel Ochigbo. I contacted Corporal Emmanuel Audu. I told him about our plans and he brought James Momoh. Our first operation was at Olusosu, in the Ojota area of Lagos State.
We got information about a Chinese national and struck. First, we knocked on the gate; they opened the door and saw policemen. The policemen with us told them that they suspected they were involved in drug trafficking. They allowed us into their apartment.
We searched everywhere. In the course of our search, we found three laptops, four phones and N700, 000, $770. After the operation, we marched all the Chinese nationals into a room and locked them. We shared the money among ourselves equally. I got N110, 000 and $100.” He noted that the second operation was at Medina Estate, Gbagada, Lagos State.
Using the same modus operandi, they entered the home of a Chinese and carted away two laptops, one Ipad and money. Each got N50, 000. The third operation was at Lekki. They shared N25 000 each. On June 7, Owocho and James Momoh were apprehended. He said operatives of IRT used his brother as bait to catch him.
Sergeant Francis Onuh, 35, attached to Mopol 23, said he is married and has three children. He said it was bad friends that led him into crime. He was living with late Corporal Justin Igba when he made some new friends. Igba introduced him to these friends.
They told him how they used to target and raid homes of unsuspecting Chinese people. Francis said that after Igba died, he left his house and moved to British Embassy, where he was posted. He would later receive a call from Owocho. The caller told him that Nelly gave him his phone number.
Francis and Owocho met at Iyana- Oworoshoki, Bariga area of Lagos and discussed ‘business.’ Francis confessed to have brought Sgt Gabriel, a mobile policeman, into the game. Francis said: “When we went for the operation, I had no gun.
But I had a plastic pistol, a jack knife and tear gas. I usually stand outside, while others would go into the Chinese people’s apartments to search. We used to share our loots at Peter Owocho’s house. I went on such operations with them three times before I was arrested. Getting involved in crime was a disgrace to me and my family.”
Sgt Gabriel Ochigbo, 32, married and a father of four kids insisted that Francis led him into crime. Corporal Emmanuel Audu, 33, said he was a dispatch rider until last December when he met Owocho. He said that it was after Owocho introduced him to the job that he was able to feed his family properly. His words: “After I got my first share of the loot, I fed my family with it. I also paid my children school fees. I took part in all the operations.”