When news of a robbery attack on a Thermocool outlet at Bolade-Oshodi area of Lagos State, where a whopping sum of N8 million was carted away and five persons, including three policemen and a pregnant woman lost their lives, broke last November, the police in Lagos State knew they were in for a difficult case.
Operatives of the State Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, who took over investigations, soon realized that the robbers were also responsible for a previous robbery attack at Abusom United Investment Limited, a registered dealer in GSM recharge cards and vouchers, on Allen Avenue,Ikeja, few months back.
Though no one was killed at that operation but the mystery gang of robbers made away with the sum of N12.468m in cash and N14.865m worth of recharge cards and vouchers.
Sources told Crime Guard that the robbers had a gun duel with the police at Bolade-Oshodi before they managed to escape in another vehicle leaving the one they came with. That singular error gave the police their first lead to the case which eventually aided the arrest of seven members of the gang including their leader, Ajibola Sulaiman, a notorious bandit who has been on the police wanted list for a long time.
Over 11 assault Ak47 rifles, 39 magazines loaded with ammunition and two pistols one of which was the service pistol of a policeman killed during the Bolade-Oshodi robbery, were recovered. Police sources gave the names of six other arrested members of the gang as Austin Macaulay, Kehinde Akin, Tunde Oyebande, Wale Adeniyi, Taofeek Bukola and Ladun Agemo.
The source added that Ajibola Sulaiman, was the first person they arrested after operatives from SARS trailed the particulars of the vehicle recovered at the scene of Bolade-Oshodi robbery attack to an address at Sango Ota, where they met an old woman who happened to be the mother in-law of Sulaiman;
“We told her what we came for and who her son in-law is and she took pity on us and offered to assist us. She then took us to a place where we found Sule hiding inside the ceiling. But Sule’s arrest didn’t help us in any way. He refused to divulge information that would assist us in apprehending others.
“Though at that time, we’ve already commenced full investigation into the robbery at Allen Avenue and we were seriously trying to track down the suspects and by the end of January, we succeeded in arresting Austin Macaulay and Kehinde Akin and recovered one AK47 rifle, 5 magazines loaded with ammunition and lots of charms. But these suspects didn’t divulge any information about members of their gang.
“It seems like they were under some sort of oath not to disclose the identities of their colleagues even after several hours of painful interrogations. We kept on searching for them and by early April, we apprehended Tunde Oyebande, the gang’s amourer and recovered five AK-47 rifles, one pump action gun, two pistols and four magazines filled with live ammunition inside a Lagos colored commercial bus where he hid the weapons.
“But Tunde wasn’t as difficult as the others, he gave us veritable information that assisted us during interrogation. He told us that the second in command had some problem keeping the gang after Ajibola Sulaiman’s arrest and the gang was split into two between one Wale and Small Sule, the second in command and they shared the weapons they had among themselves.
“At that time, we sensed danger and we re-strategised and launched a manhunt for them, and few days ago, we arrested Wale Adeniyi, Taofeek Bukola and Ladun Agemo. We recovered five Ak47 assault rifles and 29 magazines filled with live ammunition. Though while we were trailing them, we learnt they were getting more sophisticated and unleashing terror within south western states.”
When Crime Guard met with the three newly arrested suspects at SARS headquarters in Ikeja, 28 year old Wale who formed the new gang said he had a close relationship with Sulaimon, the leader of the gang before his arrest . “I worked with Fatai for about two years and also lived in his home. Each time Sulaimon left home, I assumed he had travelled to Cotonou as was his practice to buy goods for sale . We sold clothes and sometimes apples.
“ Sometime last year, Sulaimon disappeared. I later learned from one of his friends called Akin that the police had arrested him for robbery; it was that day, I knew he was a robber and that those of his friends whom I had assumed were also traders were robbers too. Since Akin and I were on friendly terms, I asked him where Sulaimon had kept his guns. I told him I was interested too in joining the gang and Akin brought 2 AK 47 guns for me. That was how I got involved in the robbery,” Adeniyi said.
Meanwhile, Adeniyi and his new group went on a robbery spree of their own, confident that they would not be arrested. “We robbed some traders of N3m along the Ibadan express way and a Bureau de Change at Surulere of N400,000. The highest amount I have made from any robbery is N350,000,” Adeniyi said.
His accomplice, 29 year-old Bukola had a job in his family’s owned bakery at Ifo Ogun state before he chose to walk the path of crime. He said, “Wale is my link to the gang; we had been friends for a while. There were seven of us in our group; Wale, Chicago, Wasiu, Akin, Yusuf Dada, Muta and Aluko. For my first operation, I had to drive about three of them to Ibadan where Akin was waiting. I was with them when we robbed a lady at Academy bus stop under the bridge of N3.5m.
“We had to block her taxi with our own cars; I with my Mazda 323 and Chicago another gang member had his Four-Runner Jeep. That lady was trailed by Wasiu, another member from her shop at Gbegi to the point where we robbed her. Earlier, we had had one failed operation at Ibadan because the victim who was said to have N2m on her person was not at home. Our second operation was at Abeokuta, we went to a place where they sold flour and robbed them of N270,000.
Adeniyi and I were arrested last week at Ado-odo in Ogun state where we had gone to service our guns and prepare ourselves for another robbery operation which was to take place at Akure later that same day.
Initially, we were supposed to pick up the remaining members of the gang at Sango before heading for Akure but they called before we could get to Ado-Odo and asked us not to bring the guns when coming because the vehicle we had planned to use was bad. So, we left the guns behind and were on our way to Sango when we were stopped by the police.”
Confirming the arrests, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umaru Manko said, “The Police at SARS headed by Sp. Abba Kyari, acting on prior information, already had the plate number of the Mazda and knew that Adeniyi and Bukola were robbers.
While Bukola stopped and got out of the car as he was instructed, Adeniyi tried to make a run for it. He was shot and immediately both men were arrested. Upon interrogation, Bukola admitted that he had no idea where the guns were usually kept as Adeniyi would make him drive up to a point and then take over the driving from him after making him exit the car.
It was Adeniyi who took the police to Agemo’s house at Ado-odo where 4 AK47s and 29 magazines were recovered all loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition,” he stated.