Detectives attached to the Lagos State Police Command have arrested three men, who are part of a syndicate, which used to steal vehicles of unsuspecting Nigerians and transform such cars into new ones. The suspects are Frank John, a former boat driver, Inosa Sariwayo, an auto electrician, otherwise known as ‘vehicle rewire’ and one Ifeanyi Nwaigwe.
They were arrested on August 18, 2016, at Jakande and charged with car theft.
The crackdown on the syndicate began on August 17, 2016 , after someone residing at Agege area of the metropolis, alerted the police that his car had been stolen from where it was parked. Reacting to the arrest of the syndicate, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Fatai Owoseni, said the suspects were traced to their hideout.
When policemen stormed the hideout, they discovered that the suspects had dismantled parts of cars such as windscreen, ignition and others and were trying to replace them with new one.
The idea was to make the old stolen cars, to appear new to anyone who wanted to buy them, said Owoseni. They were already changing the parts of the car that was stolen at Agege, when police surprised them.
Owoseni further said: “These incidents happen in Lagos regularly. There are areas where car parts are changed and the car re-registered to appear like new ones. We urge Nigerians to be vigilant and mindful of their property.
They should also report suspicious people to the police.” One of the suspects, John, said he was innocent. According to him, he was aware that the cars were stolen ones, he however was not guilty because he was not the person that removed them from where they were parked.
He said his only offence was in assisting the syndicate to carry out rewiring of the vehicles and change of ignition keys.
He said he was initiated into the business by a friend, simply known as ‘Baba Michael.’ He said that Baba Michael used to constantly supply him cars to rewire. Recollecting how he met Baba Michael, John said: “I met him one day after my boat developed fault.
He introduced me to the business this year in April. On the first day they gave me a car to rewire and change with it ignition, I asked them who the owner of the car was. They said it belonged to one of their customers.
After receiving the second car last week, I found out that it was a stolen vehicle. I met them at Command, Ipaja area the first time. On Wednesday, I met them at Lekki, to collect the other car. I gave the car to Inosa to rewire and that was how I was caught by the police.”
Sariwayo, who described himself as a professional vehicle electrician, hotly denied knowing anything about stolen vehicles. He said he works with John as a rewire and didn’t know whether cars given to him by John to work on, where stolen ones or not. His words: “I was caught by the police on Thursday while I was repairing the car Frank gave me. I have done this kind of job for him before.
He usually pays me N2000. Frank came to my shop at CMS and asked me to repair the car. I didn’t ask Frank where the car was from or who it belonged to. It’s not my business to do so. Usually, while repairing the car, I would purchase new car keys and change the ignition to the new one; in order for the car to start.” John claimed to have been paid N 50,000 to effect such changes on the cars. He was contacted last week to effect changes on the car which was moved from Agege, where it was parked.
He said he knew it was stolen, but didn’t think of reporting to the police. He also agreed that the rewiring of car’s ignition and changing of parts to make the cars new was a suspicious practise, but had never questioned his suppliers.
Nwaigwe, a public toilet cleaner, also denied being a member of the syndicate. He said the police picked him alongside with Inosa while he was going about his daily work at their workshop. Nwaigwe said: “I was at work when the police came and questioned Inosa.
They asked him who gave him the car he was working on and pointed at my work place and said the person who gave him the car was there, waiting for him. When the police met me, I told them there must have been a mistake. I know nothing of the incident. A colleague of mine told the police that I know Frank and the police took me.”
John emphaised: “ I’m innocent! I didn’t steal any car. I only assisted them to rewire the cars. I hope that Baba Michael and his friends are found fast.” Inosa said: “ I hate the situation I find myself today. No member of my family even knows that the police arrested me. Anything can happen to me. I’m angry with Frank for getting me involved in this situation.”