Cross over service, held on the last day of the year in virtually all churches in Nigeria and across the globe is usually characterized with a huge turn out , as most attendees, use the opportunity to appreciate God for seeing them through the challenges of the outgoing year. To some worshipers, it is the only day they set their feet in church.
The atmosphere at Our lady of the Apostle church in Lakwe, Ajah area of Lagos, was not different on December 31, 2019. Among the worshipers were an intending couple who drove to the church in their Toyota Corolla car , valued at N3.2 million.
While service was ongoing, the man, Uche Ayahbalu , 41, walked out, informing his lover that he was going to listen to a radio programme inside the car . Having waited without seeing him , she went outside on what could have warranted the delay, only to discover that he had driven away in her car!
Effort to reach him on the phone failed as it was discovered to have been switched off.
It was gathered that when she eventually got him on the fifth day via his mobile phone , he bragged that she should not bother to look for him or invite the Police, that nobody would be able to get him where he was. But on the directive of the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, CP Hakeem Odumosu, operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS led by the Officer-in-Charge, CSP Peter Gana, tracked the suspect to his hideout in a hotel near Ikorodu, where he was found sleeping, awaiting the return of the receiver of the car with some cash.
Crime Guard gathered that one Kamoru Abolarin, whom the fleeing lover allegedly connived with to abscond with the Toyota Corolla, was first arrested before the Anambra-state born main suspect. At the time of the arrest, the stolen vehicle was discovered to have been used as a collateral for N1 million loan.
However, during interrogation, Ayahbulu, disclosed that the car was driven to Ibadan, Oyo state capital with the intention to sell but that buyers approached were skeptical .
He said, "The lady in question is my wife". But his claim was described as untrue by the lady who claimed they were not married yet. When asked if he had done the necessary rites, he said, " I have only done the introduction".
Explaining how he moved the car, he said, " We both went to church for cross over service, on December 31, 2019, from there I called Kamoru Abolarin (pointing to his partner in crime ). I took the car and drove off to Ibadan but couldn't sell it after four days because buyers approached said the names on the particulars were not same as mine, even when I tried to convince them that it belonged to my wife.
At a point, I told Abolarin that if we didn't get any buyer ,I would return the car. We later got the contact of one Jaji, in Ikorodu . We drove back to Lagos but when we got there, he (jaji) said he would pay N1.5 Million but I insisted it was N1.7 million".
He stated that when the buyer could not pay the amount, he begged him to give him a loan of N1.1 million , with an agreement to leave the car with him as collateral, pending when he would pay back.
But the supposed buyer, Jaji, lodged Anyahbalu in a hotel in Ikorodu, with a promise to get the requested loan. He (Jaji) reportedly took the Toyota Corolla car to a money lender , where he collected a loan of N1 million but collected N500,000 out of it. Unfortunately for Anyahbalu , he was yet to receive the money , before he was arrested.
Why I did it
Asked why he chose to steal the car, he replied, " I took the car because I didn't like the way my wife used to act. For instance, if I called her while she was at work, she would not call me with endearment words like honey or darling because she is with a man. I have even caught her with men at different occasions and this has been on for over one year.
" Again, I did it out of frustration and anger, as I had made up my mind never to go ahead with the marriage. My intention was to sell the car and travel out of the country. I intended to travel to Dubai and from there, cross over to Canada. I also had the intention of buying her another one, had the plan succeeded ".
Partner in crime
On his part, his partner in crime, 25-year-old Kamoru Abolarin, admitted to have been invited by the main suspect .
Abolarin who hails from Osun state, said, " He invited me to come and drive the car for him , from the church . I am an electrician and also a driver. When I got there I knew he wanted to steal the car and I told him it was wrong. But he told me he would replace it with a better one when he got abroad. I regret my involvement".
The suspects according to the Command boss, CP Odumosu , while parading them at the command's headquarters during his maiden press briefing, warned robbers to leave the state for good or have same fate befall them.