A 21-year-old national of the Republic of Benin, Isa Seidu, has told the police in Lagos how they broke into shops at Balogun Market and then use the stolen goods proceeds to buy cows from Niger Republic and resell in Nigeria.
The three other suspects, who were identified as Tairu Melaye (25), Lucky Chukwudi driver (43) and Ahmad Abu (30), were tracked to different parts of the country.
According to Seidu, the three of them work as porter in the market, but at night when everyone had gone home, they would break into phones seller shops and boutiques and then resell the goods in the market.
Chukwudi was said to be the cab driver that takes them where they sell the stolen goods to their buyers.
Seidu said: “I have been in Nigeria since 2015 in search for greener pasture.
“When I arrived Nigeria, my first port of call was Kebbi State.
“I was advised by a friend in Kebbi to travel to Lagos.
“When I got to Lagos, I was working as a porter in Balogun Market.
“A year after I arrived Lagos, I was introduced to the breaking of people’s shop and then loot it, while we sell the goods to a buyer in the market at a cheaper rate.
“I was doing it alongside the porter’s work.
“One fateful day, I was arrested at Oke-Arin area and the person who introduced me to the robbery, one Cheda, escaped and I was charged to court and later remanded in prison, where I spent three months, before I was later freed.
“I was 18 year-old when I went to prison.
“The present case was the goods I stole when the last fire incident, where a plaza got burnt, I used the opportunity to burgle some of the shops that were not affected by the fire and sell the stolen goods and then send the proceeds to my mother in Niger Republic to buy cows for me and then send it to Nigeria so as for me to resell it and make huge money.
“Before I left Niger Republic, I was told Nigeria is a rich country and I want to become rich so that I could assist my mother and my siblings.
“That was why I came to Nigeria.
“I believe with the porter work, there is no way I could make much money that was why I decided to go into burglary to make more money.”
Seidu said he regretted going to prison for the second time.
He appealed to the police to pardon him and promise never to go back to robbery again.
Chukwudi said he knew Seidu at Boundary Bus Stop at Ajegunle when he asked him to take him to Lagos Island.
He said after he dropped him off at CMS, they exchanged for phone contacts and since then Seidu had been calling him whenever they wanted to go out.
He added: “It was after a while they introduced me to what they are doing.
“Whenever they want to sell their stolen goods, they always call me to come take them there and they would give me my share from the proceeds.
“I was chartered to somewhere on the Island.
“When we got there, they broke into the person’s shop and we moved to Ibadan that night and sell it someone there.
“Unfortunately policemen from Ibadan tracked me through my phone number and Seidu and his friends travelled to Niger Republic.
“It was when I came out of the case that I sold off my car because I don’t want to have anything to do with them anymore.
“Until recently, when policemen from Lagos came to arrest me concerning another operation at Balogun Market and Ajah by Seidu and his gangs.”
Abu, a Benin Republic national, who is also a porter, said it was Seidu who introduced him to the deal that he should abandoned the porter job and join him.
He claimed he only participated in the operation twice, returning to his porter job until recently when policemen came to arrest him where he was sleeping in his house at Pelewura Market.
Melaye denied participating in the operation, saying they were working together as porter and also sleeping in the same house where he was arrested.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, who paraded the suspects at the Command Headquarters, Ikeja, said the syndicate, which specialised in shop breaking in major markets on Lagos Island, was arrested on February 5.
Odumosu said the suspects were arrested after receiving information about the notorious burglars who break into phone shops, boutiques at Balogun Market, Lagos Island, Ajah and its environs.
He said: “Upon receipt of the information, operatives from Rapid Response Squad were drafted to closely monitor the area.
“The exercise paid off.
“On February 10, the syndicates, who comprising of one Isa Seidu (21) Tairu Melaye, Ahmad Abu and Lucky Chukwudi, were arrested while breaking into a shop at Balogun Market, Lagos Island.
Items including 97 pairs of shoes, seven fabrics, children wears and a lady’s bag were recovered from the suspects.
During interrogation, the suspects confessed to have burgled several shops in the past.
Investigation, Odumosu said, was ongoing to apprehend other suspects who are at large.