The Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, has arrested a 33 year man identified as Obina Okoli who is described as a notorious receiver of stolen goods and a key financier and recruiter of hijackers who terrorize major highways in Lagos and other parts of the country.
Obinna, who had evaded arrest for 10 years was finally arrested recently at his home in Onitsha, Anambra state. Police reports say Obinna received over 80% of all hijacked or diverted goods in Lagos and other adjoining states from 2003 to 2014. He's also said to have sponsored and maintained over 50 different gangs of armed robbers, including military personnel, who he'd used in perpetuating his criminal activities.
One of his accomplices, 38 year old Imo state born Emeka Ikenga who was arrested in 2010 had identified Obinna as his sponsor and the facilitator of his robbery gang. Emeka was arrested for hijacking a truck carrying a 40 feet container with goods worth N11 million from its driver on the Benin-Ore Road and subsequently diverting it to Onitsha where it was handed over to Obinna.
Ikenga said they carried out the operation dressed as military and were able to trail the truck through the conductor of the bus who was their informant.
"We are based in Lagos and he(Obinna) is at Onitsha. Whenever we get there for operation, he would instruct us on how to go about it. On the operation that brought me here, one of the conductors, Kalu, contacted my Chairman, Obinna, and they made the arrangement. The conductor supplied the name of the driver of the truck and the number-plate. And, when they started out for the journey, Kalu called my chairman, we got alerted and we went after them. We intercepted them with our operational Hilux Jeep at Ijebu-Ode and when the driver inquired what was happening, we showed him a warrant bearing his name and the number-plate of the truck, claiming that it was an order from the Chief of Army Staff that all trucks passing en-route should be searched for arms and ammunition and that such vehicles should be towed to the nearest Police station. He insisted on driving his vehicle but we refused and pushed him and his conductor into the back seat of our Jeep. I went back into his truck. The other members of our gang together with the driver and his conductor, headed back to Lagos. They injected them on the way though I was not there. After a little while, Obinna called us and instructed that we transfer the goods into another vehicle to prevent being trailed. We heeded his instruction and Kalu followed one of the vehicles down to Onitsha and I came back to Lagos, expecting my share of the loot which I did not get until my arrest" he said
According to Vanguard, after the arrest of Ikenga and his other gang members, Obinna recruited an eight-man gang who specialize in patrolling Lagos dressed in Police uniforms and carrying out robbery activities. Before their arrest, the gang hijacked an articulated vehicle loaded with N15m worth of cartons of engine oil at Ojuelegba area in Lagos state. The gang were later rounded up by SARS operatives in Lagos and they confessed that Obinna received and also financed their operations. Trying to use the apprehended gang members to lure Obinna out so he could be arrested proved abortive as he evaded all tactics set by the police for his arrest.
Luck however ran out on him after another gang whom he sent to hijack PVC pipes were arrested.
One of the investigating officers, OC Kyari, then hacked into Obinna's data and picked out contacts that were very close to him. A team was deployed to Onitsha to keep close watch on those his contacts. Fortunately, Obinna contacted one of them who was owing him some money, then our operatives on ground used the person to apprehend him. He was interrogated and he confessed to own the warehouses in Onitsha, Kano State and Cameron.
Among the most recent cases of theft against Obinna includes a 40- feet container of Forever Living Product, 40-feet container of PVC pipes and another 40 -feet container of motor tyres. Others were 40- feet container of powder milk, 40- feet container of refrigerators, 40 -feet container of LG home theatre, two trucks of rice, one truck of solder chemicals, two 20ft containers of groundnut oil, a 40 feet container of motorcycle, Umbrella and a 20 feet container of school bags.
When interrogated, Obinna said he is now a changed man
"I have suffered a lot. A lot of people have committed atrocities with my names and the police thought I was the one. I admit I was a bad man but I am now a changed man. I was scared to get married because the police could use my wife to arrest me”. He said
The Police are currently working hard to retrieve the goods and hand them over to their owners