Police caught up with two men suspected to be the leaders of the armed gangs that attacked a branch of First Bank in Ekiti State and the World Oil Petrol Station in Ibafo, Ogun State, a few months ago.
Ejike Mbogu and Ayomide Oyebanji were said to have been arrested by the police in Lagos after an intensive search.
Also, eight other suspected robbers, Gbenga Oni, Taofeek Mumuni, Ogbonnaya Ekweye, Kundus Adetono, Yemi Ayodeji, Shola Ayodele, Gani Moshood and Seyi Aluko, all of who allegedly had participated in some major robbery attacks in the South-West, are currently in the custody of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, Lagos.
Another suspected robber, Seun Adegboyega, aka Dada, was shot dead during a raid in Ikotun.
Three policemen reportedly lost their lives in the robbery in Ekiti, which occurred sometime in May 2012 and lasted about an hour. An undisclosed amount of money was said to have been stolen by the robbers during the attack.
Also, the robbery at the petrol station in Ibafo claimed the lives of two policemen. Both of them were shot when a gang of daredevil robbers invaded the station.
CRIME DIGEST learnt that three other policemen were killed when the same gang of robbers struck in the Oke-Itoku area of Abeokuta.
On Sept. 10, the gang robbed several bureau de change operators in Agege, Anthony, Ojodu, Itire, Ikeja and Ilasamaja areas of Lagos, killing three policemen and a commercial bus driver.
The end came for Mbogu and Ayodeji about three weeks ago when a Honda car allegedly stolen in Akute, Ogun State, was traced to the former’s aged mother in Anambra State.
Assisted by Mbogu’s brother, a team of policemen from SARS in Lagos succeeded in apprehending the suspected gangster in a hotel in Ikotun. Led by Superintendent Abba Kyari, the team found Mbogu in company with five other members of his gang. In the ensuing stampede, three members of the gang managed to escape.
Mbogu was arrested, but not before he was shot while trying to disarm one of the policemen. Dada was killed as he tried to escape.
On his part, Ayodeji was allegedly responsible for organising most of the major robberies which occurred in the Ikotun/Igando areas of Lagos state this year. “Ayodele is my friend; he lives at Ikotun and usually brings information about thriving businesses in the area. I got to know him as a building developer when I came in the guise of an Omo oni ile (land speculator) to a site he was supervising. We robbed a Coca-Cola depot at Liasu Road; I got N120,000 as my share in that operation. We robbed a super mart at Igando and a turkey cold room at Liasu road. Most of the robberies at Liasu Road were carried out by our gang,” Ayodeji confessed.
On the other hand, Oyebanji’s gang is believed to be responsible for most of the robbery attacks that have taken place in Victoria Island, Lekki and Ajah.
Leading the attacks himself alongside four other members on the run, Oyebanji allegedly dispossessed residents of the island of their cars, money and other valuables. CRIME DIGEST gathered that in one of such incidents, two policemen on guard at a home in VI were killed in a shootout with the robbers.
In an interview with our correspondent, Mbogu confessed that he was lured into armed robbery four years after he moved to Lagos.
He said, “I moved to Lagos after my father’s death and started earning a living as an apprentice to my brother who sold refrigerator parts in Mushin. For a while, things were difficult. Then I met one Segun in Surulere. He claimed to be a soldier. I noticed that he lived on the fast lane and he was not alone.
All the boys who moved with him also lived on the fast lane. Although I didn’t know it, Segun was an ex-convict.
“One day after we got talking, Segun invited me for a drink with his boys. He asked me if I had been involved in any crime of any sort. When I answered in the negative, he said I didn’t have the required experience for the kind of work he did. So, he assigned me to pick pockets alongside Opeyemi. For some weeks, I would steal wallets and other valuables during rush hours.
“Segun monitored my progress regularly. Later, I was allowed to drive them on a motorcycle whenever they wanted to snatch handbags. Most of our victims were sales girls going to the bank to deposit or withdraw money.
“Eventually, Segun relocated to Cotonou with some members of his gang when the police were on their trail. By then, I had established contacts with other robbers and one arms supplier known as Tochukwu.”
The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Umaru Manko, confirmed the arrests.
“Ever since his involvement in the Wema Bank robbery at Dopemu in 2008, Oyebanji has long been on the wanted list of the police. About 15 armed robbers participated in that robbery attack and 13 of them were arrested. Oyebanji and one other member of the group had been on the run since then.
“Oyebanji’s gang was responsible for the bullion van robbery in Badagry about five months ago. A police sergeant and three other civilians were killed during the attack.
“Oyebanji was arrested last week after he was sighted by a source around Iyana-Ipaja. A SARS team led by Kyari trailed him to Oshodi. He was shot while trying to escape arrest while a receiver of stolen goods, Muyiwa, who was with him at the time, was also arrested,” Manko said.
Oyebanji was said to have made confessional statements which led to the discovery of eight AK-47 rifles belonging to the policemen who were killed in the Ekiti, Badagry and Ibafo robbery attacks.
One English pump action, and 25 magazines loaded, with 30 rounds of ammunition, were also found hidden in a Nissan Almera car which was parked in a mechanic’s workshop at Apapa Road, Oyingbo.
One pump action an AK-47 rifle, two locally-made double-barrelled shotguns, two assault rifles and 10 AK-47 magazines (fully loaded), were also recovered from the gang’s former armoury at Ifo when Aluko led a SARS team to the hideout. Unfortunately, most of the guns and ammunition had been taken away to be used in a robbery attack the same day.