It was the end of the road for 29-year-old Ashiwobel Joseph, a National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, member, who had been transporting arms from Calabar, the Cross River State capital, to Lagos, following his arrest by the Lagos State Police Command, Vanguard Newspaper reports.
Investigation revealed that the suspect would conceal the arms inside foodstuff before taking them to a transport company that would convey them to Lagos, from where his accomplice who would be waiting at the park would pick them up.
But luck ran against him when the bag containing the arms was mistakenly handed over to one Aji Augustine, a resident of Ibeju Lekki Lagos.
Augustine explained: “I sent money to my mother to buy foodstuff from our village in Obudu, Cross River. On the agreed date, I went to the park and was given two bags filled with foodstuff. On reaching the house, my wife started unpacking the products.
She had finished unpacking the first bag but when she opened the second bag, she noticed a brown cartoon that was heavy and sealed. The cartoon was squeezed in between tubers of yam. By the time she opened it, she screamed at the sight of the guns.”
Shuddering in fear, he said he contacted his mother in Cross River State to ascertain the content of the bag, only to discover he had mistakenly taken another person’s bag.
On his way to the police station, he said the driver of the vehicle called several times to inform him that the driver gave him the wrong bag. The driver of the vehicle was subsequently apprehended.
Joseph and Snatcher reportedly went into hiding when they got wind of the driver’s arrest.
When the information reached the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Abiodun Alabi, he ordered operatives of the CP Special Squad to track down the fleeing suspects, consequent upon which Joseph was arrested some days after.
JOSEPH OPENS UP
The graduate of Biology Education from the Federal University of Agriculture, Markurdi, Benue State, who began the mandatory one year service to his fatherland last September, said: “I was posted to Lagos for my Youth Service, where I met a man called Snatcher.”
“During the discussion, he told me he needed arms, that there were ready buyers here in Lagos.”
“I had to contact a Cameroonian named Justin, whom I met about four years ago, during the war at the border town in Calabar. He was supplying guns to the fighters and he gave us N5,000 to allow him passage. He was into that business until the war in Cameroon ended.”
“He sold the seven guns to me for N150,000. But I didn’t want to travel with it because of fear of possible arrest. So, I decided to waybill it to Snatcher. I tucked them in between tubers of yam and fish. No one would have noticed it had the bag not been opened.”
“I was waiting for Snatcher’s call to confirm receipt of the consignment. But when he did, he told me the bag he got from the driver was empty. That was when we discovered it was mistakenly switched.”
“We contacted the driver who called the man that picked up the bag. By the time he went to meet the man, he was arrested. I had to hand myself over to the Police to exonerate the bus driver who was not aware that the bag I gave to him contained arms.”
Asked if this was the first time he was transporting arms to Lagos, he shook his head and replied: “No, this is my second time. I know what I did was wrong but I wanted to make fast money. I was given N250,000 to buy the guns but I bought it for N150,000 and made N100,000.”