A suspect, Mr. Uche Onuakwu, has confessed to the police that before he and his partners embarked on diversion of truck carrying goods worth N30million, they went to a shrine to take an oath. According to Onuakwu, 34, the oath was to ensure that none of the members, who partook in the operation, absconds with the money realised from the deal.
He was arrested along with one Ndubuisi Michael, 35. Detectives attached to the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan Lagos, arrested Onuakwu and his friend. The police said the gang specialised in diverting goods, using trucks which they had already fixed with a fake number plates.
Police source said that Onuakwu and Michael, who claimed to be drivers, had been arrested in the past for similar crimes and charged to court. They were later sent to prison. But rather than change for the better, the duo regained freedom and went back to their old ways. They returned from prison to take to robbery and diversion of trucks loaded with goods.
They were recently arrested after they diverted a truckload of powdered milk valued at N30m from the Tin-Can Port, Apapa Wharf. Recalling how they went to the shrine to take the oath and later diverted the goods, Onuakwu said that it was one Obinna that brought the deal and organised the operation.
He added: “I have known Obinna for seven years now. He claimed to be a businessman at the Tin-Can Port, Apapa, Lagos. We lost contact some years back. We reunited after he gave his phone number to Ndubuisi, whom he met at SARS Ikeja. He asked Ndubuisi to give his phone number to me. I called him and we met somewhere around Second Rainbow area, in Mile 2, Lagos.
“Obinna told me that he had a Mack Truck he wanted me to drive for him. I went with one Chibekem to see him on that day. Chibekem is also a driver.
We later teamed up at Onitsha, Anambra State. Obinna took us to a shrine at Agba-Agolo at Agolo, in Anambra State, to swear an oath that we would not defraud one another.” Furthermore, Obinna promised Chibekem that he would give him N2.5m if he and Onuakwu could successfully use the truck to divert the goods. Onuakwu said: “Obinna said he would settle me well.
We succeeded in getting the job to drive a 40 feet container loaded truck from Tin-Can Port. We were supposed to take the goods to a warehouse in Apapa, but we diverted it. Unfortunately, the truck developed engine problem on our way, along Abagana. Obinna came with another truck to rescue us.
He drove the goods away after he lodged us in a hotel. He came back later to give us N200, 000, which we shared. Since then, we’ve not seen Obinna. Obinna is the person that brought different fake number plates, which we used to fix on trucks. He gets them from his contacts. We use different fake number plates to move the goods. I have been to prison twice. No, prison didn’t change me. I only ended up meeting bad gangs inside prison.”
The spokesman for Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi, advised employers and business owners to carry out proper background checks before they employ anyone. He added: “These suspects pretend to be truck drivers, but their modus operandi is to use fake number plates to divert goods. These men are professional criminals. We advise employers to carry out thorough background checks before they employ anybody.
They can come to the police to help them screen would be employees as we have a data base to fish out criminals. We cannot kill these suspects because they are habitual criminals. We’ll continue to follow the rule of law and charge them to court. It’s worrisome that persons who were sent to prisons come back and continue in their criminal ways.
The prison is supposed to reform criminals, but they come out to become hardened and professional criminals. As an agency that bears the brunt of these criminals, we’re going to work with other arms of government and the civil society groups to overhaul the judicial system.”
Adejobi said that the suspects, in 2016, allegedly conspired and robbed a warehouse in Ajao Estate, Lagos, where their gang members killed a security man and made away with a truckload of tin tomatoes valued at N10m. Michael, who confessed to have been sent to prison twice, shed light on the Ajao Estate operation.
He said: “Our gang members told me that they were going to rob a warehouse called Deekay and Sons at Kolawole Sonibare Street, Ajao Estate. I didn’t go with them, but they stole a truck filled with tin tomatoes worth over N10m. I later learnt that they killed a security man after they tied him up.”