A serving Lance Corporal in the Nigerian Army, Emmanuel Ebo, and seven others have been arrested for allegedly selling ammunition to a notorious gang of armed robbers which attacked banks in Lagos and Ogun states.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the corporal and the others – Ahmed Monsuru, Bayo Olaoye, Olamilekan Omopeji, Ayodeji Famileye, Opeyemi Balogun, Michael Adebayo, and Edward Paul – were arrested by the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Monitoring Team.
Our correspondent gathered that the team arrested the soldier, an Ijaw, at his base in Maiduguri, Borno State, while the other suspects were picked up in various hideouts in Lagos, Ogun, and Oyo states.
It was gathered that the corporal, who had reportedly confessed to the crime, was arrested by the team, led by CSP Abba Kyari, after the Department of Military Intelligence had been alerted to the matter by the police.
It was learnt that the police recovered six automatic pump-action rifles, a pistol and some cartridges from the suspects.
It will be recalled that robbers had attacked some commercial banks in Lekki, Ipakodo, Ijede and the FESTAC Town area of Lagos State and Agbara area of Ogun State at different times in the year.
Our correspondent gathered that the DMI received an intelligence report on the corporal’s activities from the police, and handed him over for interrogation.
A police source told PUNCH Metro that the soldier allegedly concealed the weapons in food items heading for Lagos State from Borno State, while the robbers would credit his bank account upon receiving the weapons.
According to the police, the suspects allegedly sold no fewer than 15 automatic pump-action rifles to the gang.
Speaking with PUNCH Metro, one of the suspects, 40-year-old Famileye from Ekiti State, said he sold an automatic rifle to the gang for N230,000, adding that he made over N60,000 on each rifle.
The father of one said, “I have a friend in Oyo State, known as Mr. Mike, who sells arms. I do not know whether he is a licensed dealer or not. It was in 2012 during the fuel subsidy protest in Lagos that I went to Ikorodu to buy fuel and I met a member of the gang. That was how the business started.
“Last year, one of them, Opeyemi, called me that he wanted to buy two pump-action guns which he needed for pipeline security. I called my friend, Mr. Mike, and told him about it. He sold the rifle to me for N170,000, but I sold it forN260,00.
“I, Opeyemi and Olamilekan have gone to the creek to meet one of the gang leaders, known only as Ossy. They bought two rifles on that first deal and they also demanded two more rifles. Sincerely, I did not know they were using the guns for robbery. They said they were into pipeline security.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that the corporal and two other suspects could not be paraded yet as intelligence information was being gathered from them.
The Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olabisi Kolawole, confirmed the arrest of the suspects, adding that investigation was ongoing into the matter.