It was the end of the road for three members of staff of Ndu Best Investment Company Limited, in Alaba, along the Mile-Two/ Badagry expressway as they were arrested among five suspected members of a robbery gang.
The gang members were alleged to have been breaking into the company’s warehouse at Agric area, where they carted away electrical appliances and cables worth several millions of naira. This act as gathered has been ongoing, for over five years, until Monday, when a member of the gang, Joseph Udeh, 29, was arrested by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS of the Lagos State Police Command.
The suspect and his fleeing partner had as usual looted some lightning arresters and copper wires from the warehouse. The items were being conveyed in a vehicle to the receiver when luck ran against them.
By the way, lightning arrester is a device used on electric power or telecommunication systems to protect the insulation and conductors of the system from the damaging effects of lightning.
Surprisingly during interrogation Udeh, mentioned 22-year-old Henry Jude, who was discovered to be the private guard at the company’s warehouse, as his partner.
Consequently, Jude was arrested and revealed also, that he was not alone. He mentioned two other staff: Francis Ebogu, 26 and ThankGod Ibemere as accomplices. One other trader on Lagos Island, Chika Opara, was also mentioned as the receiver of the stolen goods for four years.
During interrogation, the suspects, admitted culpability, disclosing their respective roles as well as the modus operandi.
According to Ebogu, an indigene of Imo State, “I have been working in the company for four years. In 2018, one of my colleagues introduced me to Joseph, whom we sold the items to, at a cheaper rate. We sell a carton of lightning arrester to him at N20,000 as against the actual price of N55,000, while the copper wire is sold to him for N1000 as against the market price of N2,300.”
“Anytime Joseph was coming for the goods, we would have sneaked out the number of cartons from the warehouse and he usually came with a vehicle to load them in.”
This is done with the knowledge of the guard at the warehouse, Jude. At the end of each sale, money would be transferred and we would share it among those who participated, while the guard would get N5,000 or N7000.
“But there were times I did not involve my colleagues, I did it with the guard and gave him his share at the end of the day. By January 2020, I decided to stop and informed my colleagues about my decision. I was not involved in the last business that led to our arrest”, Ebogu said.
On his part, Ibemere, also from Imo State admitted culpability. He said he had been working with the company for six years and that he was introduced to the shoddy business by Ebogu when he was transferred from Abuja to Lagos.
Asked what he did with the money realised, he said, “I used it to train my younger brother in the university. When Ebogu told me he wanted to stop, I continued with the guard. I also stopped in March”. Like Ebogu, he said he did not participate in the one that led to their arrest.
Like the rest, Jude, the guard admitted working with them. Surprising, he was discovered to have carried out the last theft that was botched.
He said, “when they all said they were not interested, I decided to work on my own. I invited Udeh, who usually came to carry the goods. I loaded his vehicle with cartoons of the lightning arrester and copper wire. I also gave him an account to pay into. But on the way, he was accosted by residents who demanded to know where he got the goods from. In the process, SARS came and picked him. This is where greed has landed me”, he said in an emotional laden tone.
Twenty-nine-year-old Udeh, from Anambra State, said after buying the lightning arrester from the company staff for N20,000, he sold them for N25,000 to Opara. But Opara said he was not aware the goods were stolen.
He said, “I have been buying the goods directly from shops in Alaba for N30,000 until I met Udeh, who said he would supply them to me at N25,000. When I asked where he got them from, he said directly from the company. I never knew they were stolen.”
The suspects as gathered were charged to court yesterday.
@ Vanguard Newspaper