A serving policeman attached to the Area ‘A’ Police Command, Lion Building, Campbell, Lagos Island, Lagos State has been arrested for heading a robbery gang.
The suspect, Sergeant Joseph Okweke, the leader of the gang, used to rob wearing his police uniform.
Okweke is from Obuluku in Delta State.
He said the sight of his uniform used to make people to lower their guards, making it easier for him and his men to swoop on them.
The five-man gang of robbers, which specialised in attacking warehouses and tying up security guards, was busted after they went for their last operation at Ogudu area of Lagos State.
While two members of the gang escaped, Okweke and two others were arrested.
The two had been identified as Gbenga and Orobo.
Orobo is a dismissed army officer who had refused to reveal why he was kicked out of the army.
The men were arrested by security guards attached to a company they went to rob.
The guards handed them over to Ogudu Police Station.
While being interrogated, Okweke said he had been robbing with his uniform for over five years.
Police detectives however believed it had been longer than that.
Okweke was recruited into the Nigeria Police Force in 2000.
He was a Mobile Policeman at Mopol 22, Ikeja before he was ‘de-mobbed’ and moved to regular police.
After he left Mobile Police, he was transferred to Lagos State Police Command and posted to Area ‘A’ Police Command, Lion Building.
A police source said: “The gang specialised in robbing ware houses. The sergeant used to operate in his police uniform. Once he and his gang stormed a warehouse, Okweke would use his pump action gun to threaten the guards. They would tie the guards. His men would start loading their vehicles with the goods from the warehouse.
“A few hours after leaving the scene of the robbery, the sergeant would take the goods to Onitsha in Anambra State to sell to a buyer called Benjamin Osuozu. He used to escort the goods wearing his uniform. This will make policemen on the road not to flag him down to ask questions about the goods. We discovered that the gang also used to snatch cars, which they sell at Onitsha.”
Investigators said Okweke and his gang once stole vehicle batteries running into millions of naira from a warehouse.
They also robbed a warehouse of 120 motorbikes.
The motorbikes were supposed to be sold for over N100,000 each, but Okweke dashed to Onitsha and sold each for N60,000.
“Once he delivers the stolen goods, the receiver of the stolen items would pay money into Okweke’s account. He would go back to Lagos, cash the money and share with members of his gang,” said a police source.
The source added: “Gbenga and Orobo are the gang members in charge of locating the warehouses that would be robbed. They used to go there as applicants, seeking for jobs in warehouses section. They would write applications with their names and addresses. They would keep coming to the warehouse, pretending they were checking up on their applications. But they are actually trying to know the work routine of the guards and the terrain of the area. Later, they would strike!”
In the last operation that led to their downfall, Orobo and Gbenga went to apply for jobs in a warehouse located at Ogudu, Ikeja.
They went through their modus operandi of writing applications and then picked a day to strike.
On the day they came to attack, security guards on ground were too many.
The guards overpowered the gang and collected Okweke’s pump action from him.
One of the guards recognized Gbenga.
The reason the security guards were many on that day was unknown.
Two members of the gang escaped.
Three were arrested and handed over to Ogudu Police Station.
Okweke has been referred to Lagos Command Police Provost for orderly room trial, before he would be charged to court for armed robbery.
It will be recalled that earlier this year, one sergeant, Ejembi Austin, also attached to the same Area ‘A’ Police Command, Lion Building, was arrested after robbers who were already in police custody, fingered him as the person who used to sell ammunition to them.
Austin was arrested at the point when money and ammunition were exchanging hands between him and the armed robbers who set trap for him, while policemen investigating the case, hid, watching.
Austin was recruited into the Nigeria Police Force in 1999.
He trained in Kaduna and later mobilized into Mobile Police Force 20 Squadron, where he worked with the Rapid Respond Squad.
When he left Mopol 20, he started working at ‘Area ‘A’ Police Command,’ Lion Building, Lagos Island.
Determined to escape the hang’s man noose, Austin sued the Nigeria Police Force for unlawful arrest.
He was charged to court for armed robbery and remanded, now awaiting the Directorate of Public Prosecutions advice.