Detectives attached to the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (SIRT), have nabbed some suspected arms dealers, who specialise in arming robbers that terrorised banks in Lekki, Ikorodu, Festac and Agbara areas of Lagos and Ogun States.
Those arrested included a serving Lance Corporal of the Nigerian Army.
Aside the arrest of the arms suppliers, the SIRT also arrested seven members of the robbery gang.
The crackdown operation on the arms suppliers was led by Abba Kyari, a Chief Superintendent of Police, and officials of the Defence Intelligence Agency.
Six automatic pump action rifles, a pistol and some cartridges were recovered from the suspects.
Detectives gathered that most of the arms sold to the robbers were used for bank robberies, kidnapping and pipeline vandalism.
A member of the robbery gang told SIRT operatives that his gang received large supplies of arms and ammunition from the soldier.
The soldier was posted to Borno State to fight the Boko Haram sect.
It was further revealed that the soldier used to conceal weapons inside food items heading to Lagos State from Borno State.
The gang, which was also involved in pipeline vandalism at Ikorodu and Ijegemo areas of Lagos State, would receive the “goods” at a designated venues.
The gang would later credit the soldier’s bank account.
The bank robbers used to come through the waterways, dressed in military camouflage uniforms.
They had several times attacked different banks, where they carted away millions of naira after blowing up banks entrance doors with dynamites.
In most of their operations, they killed women, children and policemen.
According to the police, the eight suspects – Opeyemi Balogun, Ayodeji Femileye, Michael Adebayo, Edward Paul, Bayo Olaoye, Ahmed Mosuru, Olamilekan Omopeji and Emmanuel Ebo – were picked at various locations in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Borno States.
A police source said: “The Army Corporal was picked at his duty post at Maiduguri, Borno State by men of the Defence Intelligence.
“The officials received intelligence report of his activities from the police.
“He is currently undergoing interrogations at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja.”
The arms suppliers were alleged to have sold no fewer than 15 automatic pump action rifles, a pistol and several cartridges to the gang members.
Stating their own stories, the arms suppliers insisted they didn’t know the arms and ammunition bought from them would be used for robbery.
According to them, they thought the robbers were soldiers as they were normally seen clad in military fatigue.
Ayodeji Famileye, 40, the link between the robbers and arms dealer, said he sold an automatic rifle to the gang for N230,000 and he made over N60,000 on each rifle.
Famileye said: “I used to demand extra N30,000 from the gang to procure firearms licence for each rifle sold to the gang.
“I’m not an arms dealer.
“I have a friend in Oyo State, Mike.
“He sells arms.
“I don’t know whether he is a licensed dealer or not.
“In 2012, during the fuel subsidy protest in Lagos, I went to Ikorodu to buy fuel and met Opeyemi Balogun.
“Balogun sold fuel to me and during our conversation, he told that he was into security.
“He said that he needed where he could procure arms.
“I told him I knew someone who can get it done for him with licence.
“Last year, he called me and said he wanted to buy two pump action guns.
“He said it was needed for pipeline security.
“I called Mike.”
Famileye said Mike insisted any buyer must have licence for the gun.
Hwe said he told him the buyer would.
Famileye explained: “Mike sold a rifle to me for N170,000, excluding the licence.
“I sold it for N260,000.
“On our first supply, Mike and his people brought the rifle to Ikorodu.
“Mike met me, Opeyemi and Olamilekan and handed over the rifles to us.
“We took them into the creek to meet the General of the camp.
“We call him Ossy.
“I saw several people carrying big guns and the General told us that they were using the guns for pipeline security.
“He also paid me to procure the licence for him.
“They bought two rifles on that first deal.
“They also demanded for two more rifles.
“Payment was done the way they did the others.
“After a while, Opeyemi called me again and said that some of Ossy’s friends, operating another camp at Ijegemo, off Ijegun in Alimosho local government, needed some rifles.
“We first supplied them two and they later demanded for five rifles.
“The General of that camp, known as Teekee, demanded we sell him a pistol.
“I got him one through Mike.
“I had issues with Teekee and he threatened to shoot me.
“He was furious with me when I asked about preparing the licences for his rifles.
“He accused me of trying to spy on him.
“I narrowly escaped that day.
“Afterwards, I quit selling arms to him.
“I didn’t know they use the guns for robberies.”