A robbery gang allegedly led by a police corporal has been smashed by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Response Squad (IRS) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. According to police sources, the gang is said to specialise in car snatching.
The alleged leader of the gang, Corporal Christ Oboko, who is said to be serving at C4I in Rivers State, was arrested together with a member of the gang identified as Johnpaul Amani.
In his confession, 27-year-old Amani, an indigene of Bayelsa State, said: “I was a commercial bus driver before I went into robbery, and I started by snatching cars. One of my friends, Kelvin, who we normally call Side-Mirror, a fellow commercial bus driver, led me into my first gang, led by one Okute from Edo State.
“Side-Mirror and I were driving other people’s vehicles but he was looking better and was spending more money than me. When my wife became pregnant and I needed money to arrange for her delivery but things were not working well for me. I approached Side-Mirror for assistance and he revealed that driving was not the only job he was doing.
“He took me to his boss, one Okute, at Diobu area of Port Harcourt. And since I was a good driver, I was accepted into the gang. When I joined them, I discovered that Okute has several boys working for him. On the day I went there, I saw Ifeanyi, Onu, Ama-Boy, Patoranki, Pikin and others I could not identify.
“Whenever my boss wanted to go for an operation, he would come to our base at Market Junction in Port Harcourt and pick anyone he wanted to work with. I went to five operations with him.
“In our first operation, we stole a Toyota Camry at Market Junction. My boss saw the car where it was parked and liked it. He stole it at night, took it to Owerri and gave it to one Kabiru, a soldier.
“In my second operation, we stole five cars in one night. Three of us went for the operation and we first stole a white Toyota Corolla from Elekoyo Estate, Port Harcourt. “We also stole two Nissan Sunny cars from Artillery area of Port Harcourt. We then stole two Toyota Camry cars from D-Line area of Port Harcourt. We parked all the cars at Diobu and the next day, we called Ifeanyi and an ex-policeman to help drive the cars to Owerri.
“We gave all the vehicle to Kabiru, who paid N500,000 for the two Camry cars while Okute alone went to collect the balance. He gave me N60, 000 as my share. Side-Mirror and I became angry with Okute. “Two weeks later, he came to Port Harcourt with a Totota Corrolla and asked us to watch over it, but Side-Mirror made away with it and told him to give him the balance of the five cars we took to Owerri. He lied that Kabiru had not paid him.
“One week after Side-Mirror took the car, I leant that Okute went to a hotel where Side-Mirror kept the car and stole it. Side-Mirror called me that he parked the car in a hotel and went to drink. But when he returned, he could not find the car.
“When I called Okute, he told me that the car was with him and he was not going to work with us again because we did not trust him.
“Two of my friends, who kidnapped a former local government chairman in Bayelsa State brought two of the man’s cars to me to sell in Port Harcourt. When I was checking the cars at Nembe Waterside, Coporal Oboko and one of his colleagues confronted us and took the cars away. But he didn’t take the cars to the police station; he converted the cars to his own use.
“Three months after, he saw me on the road and asked me to forgive him, saying that he would like me to work with him. He took me to his boss at C4I and he told him that I was highly resourceful and could give them information about armed robbers operating within Rivers State. His boss promised to reward me handsomely if I assisted them and I accepted.
“I gave them information that led to the arrest of big armed robbers and they recovered assorted arms and ammunition. I was rewarded as promised, but after some months, Corporal Oboko called me and said that the car he took from him was giving him trouble and he wanted me to get him a new car.
“I told him that I had stopped stealing cars since I started working with them, but he insisted and said that he would follow me to wherever I wanted to steal the car to ensure that I was successful.
“We both went out on the first operation and we stole a Honda End of Discursion car. He gave his father the old car and started using the new one. Seeing how easy the operation went, he said that we should go for more robberies. He also established contact with a stolen vehicle receiver in Owerri and we started stealing cars from the parks around Port Harcourt at night.
“We stole several cars and took them to the receiver in Owerri and shared the proceeds equally. We were close to the point that whenever I was arrested, my people would call him and he would come to the police station and tell them that I am his boy, and the policemen would release me.
“At a point, Oboko said he was tired of operating in the dead of the night and he wanted to start using guns to snatch cars whenever he needed them. I thought he was joking. But few days after he said so, he brought two pistols.
“We did several jobs with them around Port Harcourt, but at a point, Oboko started cheating me. After snatching a car, he would take it to the receiver, sell it and refused to give me my share. He also stopped carrying me along and was working with some other boys he knew through me.
“Not long after then, I was arrested and I led the police to apprehend him.”
The police corporal, Oboko, confessed to snatching eight vehicles and admitted selling them to one Victor who is based in Owerri. The 35-year-old native of Onitchaigbo lamented that it was his informant that lured him into crime.
He said: “I am married with children and I reside in the Police Barracks on Iche Street, Borokiri, Port Harcourt. I joined the Nigeria Police Force in April 2003 and I have served at Borokiri Police Division, from there I went to Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) before joining C4I.
“I started car snatching in 2015 when I met Amadi. He was our informant and he lured me into robbery. It all started when Amadi brought two vehicles and gave them to one Victor Nwogu to sell. I met them doing the negotiation and from there, I offered to join them.
I snatched a Toyota Camry at D-Line area of Port Harcourt and we took the car to Victor in Owerri. I sold the car to victor for N200,000. We were three and I took N70,000 and gave Amandi and Kelvin the balance to share.
“On the second operation, the three of us went for the job at D-Line and we stole three Camry cars from the park. We sold the vehicles to Victor in Owerri and he paid us N360, 000. I got N150, 000 as my share. “We also snatched a Toyota Corolla from Elelenwo area with a gun and I took the car to victor and he paid N250,000. I took N80,000 as my share and gave the rest to Amadi and Kelvin to share. We also snatched a Toyota Spider at GRA at gun point and we parked it inside Borokiri. But before we arrived in the morning, the car had been removed.
“I was always going to release them whenever they were arrested by the police, and I don’t know what came over me. I am the resident Pastor of Battle Axe Assembly Church in Chuba Allo area of Port Harcourt and I have a calling in the work of God. I do not know what made me to join Amadi in his evil business,” he lamented.