It was like a scene in a thriller movie, when residents of 5, Ayike Street, Sabo-Ajangadi area of Lagos State, watched as an AK-47 rifle was pulled out from a 21-inch television set belonging to a 23-year old man in the neighbourhood.
Mr Godwin Michael, whose apartment the riffle was discovered, is alleged to be a member of a seven-man robbery gang that has been terrorizing Alaba International Market for some time now. A resident who spoke with Crime Alert said they were shocked when the police discovered the gun inside Michael's TV set.
The resident who pleaded anonymity said: "We couldn't believe our eyes that our neighbour could possess a firearm of this magnitude and have it hidden in the same TV set we see him watch at all time. We didn't know he was involved in robbery. We were surprised when the police arrested him and his wife."
Michael who is not alone in the mess is currently cooling off at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, with four other members of his gang, identified as Chidiebere John (29), Chinoso Obiora (28), Kelechi Ugbuoyi (35) and Steven Omelike (26).
Sources at SARS, told Crime Alert that the suspects met their waterloo after they successfully robbed a trader at Alaba International Market of his car and other valuables. Police sources cited Omelike as leader and sponsor of the gang.
The source hinted that after the robbery, a member of the gang called his colleague with the victim's phone and that the police trailed and arrested four of the gang members while others escaped. When Crime Alert spoke with Omelike who is also said to be a trader at Alaba International Market, he said he formed the gang because he needed money to resuscitate his business which was crumbling.
He said: "I sell electrical appliances and I was doing very well, but people told me to invest my money into buying auctioned goods that were seized by the Customs.
"I invested close to N2 million in the business because the Customs official I spoke with assured me that he will do everything possible to get me the goods. However, after a long while and I was unable to get any of the goods I paid for, I gave up and went back to my business.
At that time my business was doing so badly and I was looking for a way out. I could no longer buy the electrical appliances to sell in my shop and my customers were all complaining. At that time I thought of a way out. I contacted my friend, Obiora, who is a member of the Task Force in Alaba and he is good in getting stolen goods. In fact he orchestrated the buying and selling of all stolen batteries in Alaba".
"During the meeting, I told him how bad my business was doing and that I needed help. I told him that I was considering buying and selling of stolen vehicles. He told me that he could help but that I would have to meet with some of his friends.
We agreed on a date and we all met at a bar in Ajangbadi. At the meeting, his friends asked that I should give them N30,000 to buy ammunition and that I would always follow them to scenes where the vehicles would be robbed.
Our next meeting was at an open bar and I fingered the car of a popular trader in our market. I know the car was expensive, then I told them to get it for me. When the operation was to start, I stood up and left the place.
"After about an hour, one of Obiora's friends - Henry, who bought the ammunition drove the car to me and I gave them N50,000 at that point and promised to balance them when I sold the car. I actually agreed to pay Obiora and his friends N1million for the car.
So, when I took the car, I quickly used it to raise N1.5million. I gave Obiora and his friends the money and after about five days, Henry brought another Highlander jeep for me to buy and I gave him the N500, 000.
Obiora's escape and arrest
I was still planning where to dispose off the Highlander jeep when one of the guys, John, who worked with Henry, called me and said he had a car for me to buy. He told me where he was and I went with Obiora to see the car, but on getting there, I was arrested. Obiora managed to escape but he was later arrested."
When Crime Alert interviewed Obiora, he narrated how the gang was formed and what actually informed his decision to form the gang. He said "Steven is a friend. I have known him for quite a long time. He was actually doing well in business but I don't know what happened to him.
He came to ask that he need to raise some money because his business was not doing well and that he wanted to start selling stolen vehicles. He promised that he would also pay me if I help him get any. I contacted Henry and some of my friends. Because Steven was desperate, he gave us money to buy ammunition and he also showed us the car he wanted.
"We trailed the owner of the car to a regular bar he normally drinks and we watched him. Steven and I sat on same seat and Henry and his boys were scattered everywhere. The man even bought me a drink. When it was time to strike, Steven left, and when the man was about paying his bill, Henry and John, started firing shots. They caught the man and ordered him into his vehicle and asked him to surrender his key, then they drove off."