This came as seven more AK-47 rifles, two K-2 rifles, one pump action and 17 AK-47 magazines, fully loaded, were recovered by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Ikeja, at one of the gang’s hideouts in Egbeda area of Lagos.
The recovery brought the total number of rifles recovered from members of the gang, which specialised in braking into banks’ Automated Teller Machines, ATMs, to 15, while 10 of the 14 member-gang have been gunned down in different encounters in the last eight weeks.
According to Vanguard, 13 of the 15 recovered arms were those of policemen killed during the bandits’ operations.
Sources disclosed that the officer in charge of SARS, Sp Abba Kyari, who coordinated the arrests and the subsequent recoveries of the arms, received an intelligence report about a secret house that members of the gang were using.
The house was allegedly owned by one of the robbers identified as Saviour Confidence, who was gunned down during an operation at 49, Alimosho Road, Egbeda area.
It was gathered that Confidence, who was an ex-bank staff, fled to South Africa after some members of his gang were killed during a robbery at Ilasamaja area.
The robbers, clad in army uniform, were said to have gone to Ilasamaja few days after the Ayobo bank robbery to rob a bureau de change operator of N10 million.
They had a shoot-out with some SARS operatives who accosted them at the scene and two members of the gang, identified as Eyo Bassey and one unnamed fake soldier, were killed, while one AK-47 rifle, 11 magazines, loaded with 30 rounds each and three mobile phones were recovered.
Sources disclosed that Confidence fled the country after learning of Bassey’s death, fearing the police would track him down.
But the police managed to arrest his fiancee and made her tell him that all was well. He sneaked into the country one month later, asking his fiancee to meet him in an obscure location in Abule-Egba thinking the police were no longer after him.
According to a source, a team of operatives followed the woman to the location and the moment he noticed the presence of operatives, he attempted to escape but was shot and he died from bullet wounds.
A team of operatives were later deployed to search his apartment where seven AK-47 rifles with serial numbers: 34-3360, 56-2-609299, 56-2-529284, 56-2-5005992, 56-2-61216, 56-2-3280, 56-2-523929 and two K-2 rifles with serial number M39874, M40005, with 17 AK-47 magazines and some charms were found hidden in a drum inside his kitchen.
Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP, Umar Manko, who paraded the suspects at the command’s headquarters, Ikeja, gave their identities as Jonathan Nsirim, Tajudeen Dosunmu, Isaiah Willie and Tairu Kareem.
He said members of the gang were not just responsible for the Ayobo bank robbery, but they killed three policemen.
He said: “They were behind the ATM robbery at FirstBank, Idimu; Zenith Bank, Malu Road, Ajegunle and Diamond Bank, Pen Cinema, where they killed a policeman and took his rifle. We are currently making efforts to arrest four other members of the gang who are on the run.”
Meanwhile, the suspects confessed being members of the gang during an interview.
Dosunmu, the medical doctor, said he joined the gang because he needed money to renew his operating licence.
The 65-year-old man said: “I am one of the gang’s transporters and I usually help to transport their gas cylinders to robbery scenes.
“I am the owner of Boluwatife Kola Hospital, located at Igando, behind the police station and in 2012, my operating licence got expired and I had no money to renew it and I closed it down.
“One of my younger brothers later introduced me to this gang and all they needed from me was to transport the gas cylinders they use in opening the ATMs to the scenes after which they will give me between N20, 000 to N30, 000.
“I thought I could make some money from it and then go back to my job but in November I followed them to Ayobo and while we were waiting at the spot, we heard gun shots and I quickly drove out with my car.
“I didn’t know policemen were killed in that operation as I have not heard from any member of the gang.
“Last week, I was in my house when the police came and arrested me. “
Isaiah Willie, on his part, said he is a Pastor at Happy People Bible Church, but joined the gang through Confidence who he described as a long time friend.
According to him, “Confidence has been a long time friend of mine and he asked me to use my car to carry gas cylinders and other instruments to places where they were to operate, after which he will give me N40, 000.
“I usually don’t go into the bank with them, my job is to drive the instruments to the bank and wait by the car.”
But Tairu Kareem, a panel beater said: “I joined the gang because I lost my job. I am married with three children and I reside at Wilmer Crescent, Olodi-Apapa.
“I lost the space where I was using for panel beating and one Gbenga, who is also a panel-beater, linked me to the gang.
“My job is to brake open the ATM with gas cylinders and I followed them to carry out only two jobs. “I was the one who opened the First Bank ATM and I got N300, 000 as my share after the operation. I don’t carry gun but I was arrested through my girl friend.”
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