13 June 2014

Nigeria: How Car Burglar Became Finance Secretary of His Town's Union

The duo had operated with impunity in Lagos State with other members of their gang. They used numerous modus operandi and even pose as local chiefs and royal fathers to carry out their nefarious activities. But alas, the day of reckoning came calling when they fell into the drag net of Aba Kyari led Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Lagos State Police Command.

The suspects are Vincent Emezuem and Ifeanyi Nwigwe all indigenes of Ezinihite Mbaise in Imo state.

The arrest of the suspects was as result of the mandate given to Kayri, a Superintendent of Police by attention of the Commissioner of Police, Umaru Manko, who felt that their cup was full, following series of complaints about the activities of the gang.

Acting on the orders of his boss, Kyari deployed detectives who tracked Nwigwe down to Asapanda Market where he had a shop stocked with brand new motor spare parts. Realising that his game was up, he fled and resurfaced again when he felt that the coast was clear. Unfortunately for him, the detectives who knew his modus operandi caught him in the act at Ojo area of Lagos State while he was busy doing what he knows best , car vandalism.

Confessing in an interview, Nwigwe said: "Shortly after I graduated from Federal Polytechnic, Nekede Owerri, Imo State, my elder brother requested that I should relocate to Lagos and join him in his business. He was into auto parts, at Aspanda Market, Lagos.

"I learn the trade for one year and while I was waiting to raise money and start up my own shop, I decided to relocate to Ladipo Market where second hand products known as Tokunbo are sold. I joined a group of young men who served as middle men between the customer and the main dealers. All they do is to source for customers and refer them to a dealer who has the product in his shop. You will be paid an agreed commission for each customer you bring.

"It was while I was in the there that I realised that most of the goods sold at Ladipo Market were stolen. Reason being that they are sold cheap to mechanics and customers who decide to come and pick it themselves."

Desperate and impatient, Nwigwe decided to cut corners by learning how to get those cheap, motor parts from the right, source. "I discovered that those who were supplying the stolen motor spare parts were driving cars and building houses. I briefly learnt from one Martin, how to successfully vandalise cars undetected. So sometime in 2010, I went into full operation. Initially, our target areas were big churches where they park cars carelessly without any security man ensuring the safety of the cars.

"It was becoming risky, so we started working at night and I discovered that for every successfully operation, we will almost leave with a bag full of motor spare parts. These include, motor top gasket which we normally sell to dealers at the price of #10,000, #15,000 or even #20,000 depending on the content. Others were side mirrors, the head lamps and so many other things that we in hot demand in the market. In Nigeria, there is much demand for Toyota and Honda products, so we concentrated on these two brands," Nwigwe further said.

For years he made so much money and never forgot to extend the proceeds to family and friends. He also acquired so much wealth that he was able to start up his business, by securing a shop at the Aspanda Market where brand new motor parts are sold. "God was on my side and the business flourished. I wanted to stop stealing; I saved so much money and rented a shop at Asapanda Market. I also ordered for a container load of brand new motor spare parts.

"Naturally when you are making progress people will love to associate with you. My community recognised me because I was so generous. This has always been my dream to help people better their lives. In recognition of my contribution to the progress of my community I was elected as the financial secretary in our village meeting. Impressed by performance, I was made the Aku enwe ebe 1 of Ezinihitte Mbaise in 2012."

Unfortunately, Nwigwenever knew that his crime was gradually catching up with him. Thousands of his victims reported his activities to the police hence the man hunt. In 2013, they tracked him down but he escaped when he learnt that policemen visited his house and shop. "I had sincerely stopped stealing when they came for me. I wanted to hand myself over to the police but when I learnt that it SARS, Ikeja, I decided to run and save my life. For months I had nothing doing and only relied on my savings in the bank. When it finished, I had no choice than to return to what I know how to do best which is vandalising cars.

"I needed to retain my honour in the eyes of my community so that I will not loose my respect. It was while on duty (vandalizing a car) on May 11, 2014 that the police arrested me. I am terribly sorry and I ask for another opportunity to get it right." he pleaded.

His accomplice and a relative, Emezuem confirmed his story and begged that they should be forgiven. "Our own style of robbery is different. We do not carry guns but instruments that will assist us to open a car with ease. We also go along with fireworks, this is necessary to scare anyone who dares to come close when we are on duty vandalizing cars. I am a father of three boys and I wanted to give my children a good life by sending them to school. Please forgive us for the sake of my children," Vincent said.

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