station owners in the Northern region have revealed why they choose to be robbers.
The deadly gang’s targets were filling stations and bakeries in
Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger states, including Abuja FCT. One of its
operations at a filling station (name withheld) in Masaka, close to
Abuja, left in its wake the death of two persons with several others
sustaining varying degrees of injuries.
Members of staff had closed for
the day, with some of them changing into their clothes when the
unexpected happened, following the deafening sounds of gunshots which
made the fear-stricken staff to run into hiding.
This happened immediately after the manager of the filling station
(name withheld), who had collected the proceeds of the day from the fuel
attendants, was at the verge of entering his car parked within the
premises of the filling station.
The astonished manager was reportedly
hit with the butt of a gun by one of the unwelcomed guests, while his
colleagues fired sporadically.
At the end of the operation said to have lasted less than ten
minutes, two persons were reportedly hit by stray bullets while the sum
of N6 million was carted away, with members of staff dispossessed of
their phones and locked up in one of the offices.
Attempt to help blind father
In this interview with Crime Guard, one of the suspects, Bende
Mohammed, who kept shaking his head in self pity, claimed he reluctantly
joined the gang after several attempts to raise money for surgery on
his visually impaired father failed. According to the Nasarawa
“I never knew it would get to this. I am a power
generator and grinding machine mechanic. But proceeds from each day’s
business were not enough to take care of my family. Besides, I have a
father who is blind. I was told he needed some money to carry out some
medical tests to ascertain the category of blindness. But I didn’t have
money to pay for the consultation let alone for the test. Everyday, I
would be inundated with calls on his deteriorating state. When I shared
my predicament with a friend, he introduced me into robbery.
“I initially refused to buy into the idea but reluctantly joined them
later. The first time I went with them on an operation, we struck a
filling station in Masaka, where I got N400,000. Out of the amount, I
sent N100,000 to my father to use for the test. Out of the balance, I
bought a motorbike which I used for commercial purpose. I intended to
stop at that point and use the rest to establish myself. But the gang
won’t release me. I regret everything and wished my father was not
blind”, he said remorsefully.
On his part, 33-year-old Ikechukwu Okereke who hails from Imo State
gave a startling revelation that most operations at petrol stations are
carried out in connivance with some members of staff. He stated that the
gang usually struck in the evening, when filling station managers would
have collected money realised for the day .
According to him,
“We usually stormed filling stations in our
operational vehicle. We worked on information usually given to us by
insiders. Some members of staff of filling stations gave us information
on when exactly to strike. Most of them assisted us because of their
poor remunerations. Some of them are paid as low as N4,000 per month.
They rely on stipends from customers and adjustment of pumps.
“In the case of the Nasarawa filling station operation, we had
information that the manager would be coming to collect the day’s sales
by 6.30pm. We arrived at the vicinity around 6pm to survey the terrain
and to keep tab on the manager. We struck as he was about leaving the
filling station by opening fire. In the process, we collected the cash
he was with, and moved to our hideout where it was discovered to be N6
million. And we shared it equally with the informant.
“Another operation I partook in was that at Masaka, close to Abuja,
where I got N400,000. The third operation was also in Nasarawa. But it
was foiled owing to miscalculations on our part. One of us jumped out of
the car before we reached the filling station and started shooting.
This made our target to run away. We left out of frustration and invaded
a bakery, where we got just N90,000.”
I was gullible
For 39-year-old Mohammed Usman, popularly known as “Dogo”, he was a
victim of circumstance, and he blamed his indulgence on his
gullibility. He said,
“I was a victim of circumstance. I am not really a
robber. I was deceived by Yahaya (pointing to one of the suspects). He
(Yahaya) called me on the phone to inform me that he had a job of N6
million and needed my assistance. I acted so foolishly because I did not
even ask what kind of job it was. I went with him and others, only to
discover it was a robbery operation. By then, I could not turn back. At
the end, I was given N30,000. Same thing happened the second time when
they stormed the bakery, where I got N15,000.”
Arrested at last
Corroborating Dogo’s claim, Yahaya Musa said
“Yes, I invited him when
I was given a job to rob a filling station. I only wanted to help him
raise money because of his impoverished state.”
After the incident, Musa was said to have received a call where the
caller informed him that he had another filling station job for him. As
usual, he reportedly invited other members of the gang and headed for
the meeting point, only to walk into the welcoming hand of operatives of
the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team
(SIRT), led by Abba Kyari.