Four suspected members of a robbery gang that unleashed terror on the Lekki area of Lagos on Thursday, March 12, have been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command. The suspected robbers ─ Duke Odogbo, 38, said to be the gang leader; Lawrence Kingsley, 31; Ebi Tosan, 20; and 30-year-old Ekelemo Kuete ─ were arrested in Delta, Ogun, Ondo and Lagos states.
Three policemen and a fish seller were killed by the gang which stormed the First City Monument Bank Limited on Admiralty Way in the Lekki area. It was also reported that the robbers, numbering about 13, arrived at the bank, wielding AK-47 rifles and shooting sporadically for 30 minutes, during which the 14-year-old fish seller, Sarah Ibikunle, and three policemen were killed.
It was learnt that six decoy teams of SARS were deployed to arrest the suspects from Lagos and the other three states. Speaking on Wednesday [May 23], Odogbo, from Warri, Delta State, said they killed the policemen because the gang was prepared to deal with every resistance. He added that they came with seven AK-47 rifles and carted away over N15m in the operation.
He said, “I am an Ijaw man living in Delta State. I was invited to Lagos to take part in the operation. I am not the gang leader, but only an expert. We were initially at a hideout around the Langbasa River till about 4pm. When it was time to move, we entered into two speedboats. I wore a military uniform and we entered into Lekki from the riverside. When we got to the bank, I was the first person to enter. We were 11 in number, and we had seven guns. In the banking hall, I asked for the bank manager, but they said they could not find him. We found some little cash ─ about N15m─ in a sack.
“While the operation was going on, others were outside, shooting to secure the area. It was on our way back that I found two rifles with them. They told me they collected them from the policemen they killed. What happened was that the policemen were in a van, and were passing by. They thought they came for us and we could not take chances. So, they shot them and took their guns. On our way out, we tried to open the Automated Teller Machines, but when they did not open on time, we took the machines with us.
“I was arrested in Warri. I got N500,000 for my part in the operation.”
Also, Ekelemo, who reportedly drove the speedboat, said they took off from the Majidun area. He, however, denied that he was one of those that shot the policemen. He said, “I was the driver of the gang. I drove the speedboat. I am also an Ijaw man. I stay around the Arepo area of Ogun State. It was my brothers who called me to participate in the robbery. We call one of the gang leaders, O.C. We had taken off on that Thursday from the Majidun area.”
Police recovered a Honda Accord, 2008 model, bought with the proceeds from the robbery. Two smart phones, stolen from the bank workers during the operation, were also recovered from the gang, as well as 130 rounds of ammunition. The police identified the three deceased officers as Inspector Bethel Agbobu, Sergeant Odehohwo George, and Corporal Imoisiu Ikechukwu.
The CP said efforts were on to arrest the remaining members of the gang, adding that residents of the state should trust the police to guarantee safety of lives and property.