They all wore mournful looks in the line-up, but no one would have readily known that three of the armed robbery suspects being paraded by the police that day used to be policemen.
Emmanuel Audu, James Momoh, Sunday Onuh and two former policemen; Sgt.Ochigbo Gabriel and Sgt. Francis Onuh hung their heads, trying their best to show remorse.
The former policemen among the suspects had been dismissed from the force for different offences. They later took up the tools of armed robbery.
Audu, 33, said he joined the Nigeria Police in 2003 but was dismissed as a constable in 2009 over his involvement in some illegal activities in Warri, Delta State.
Audu told journalists that shortly after he lost his job, he relocated to Lagos and became a dispatch rider until December last year when he was looking for a job and met Peter Owocho, another member of the gang who introduced him to the gang.
He said he partook in all the operations carried out by the gang, and that he used his share of their loot to take care of his family and pay his children’s school fees.
“I live at Ikorodu with my family. I took part in all the operations, but I was arrested on June 7, 2016 by the police,” he said.
A police source told journalists that before members of the gang were arrested by operatives of the Inspector-General Police Special Intelligence Response Team, the suspects specialised in robbing Chinese nationals in different parts of Lagos State.
The source said before they met their waterloo during an operation at the homes of four Chinese nationals in Gbagada, the suspects had carried out no fewer than 10 robberies between December 2015 and June 2016.
The source said, “The dismissed policemen normally gain access into the homes of the Chinese men under the pretence of conducting routine checks, or that they had information that they (the Chinese) were involved in drugs and currency counterfeiting.
“When they are allowed into their homes, the dismissed policemen would ransack the apartments and cart away all valuables including cash and electronic gadgets.”
As the suspects, who all hailed from Benue State reeled out their confessions, it left no doubt that they were a gang of notorious robbers.
Individually, they stated that bad association and their inability to get good jobs led them into the crime.
In his confession, Onuh, 33, said he had National Diploma in Business Administration and he used to work with a private security firm before he lost the job. Shortly before his marriage, he said he met a member of the gang, known as Jack, who introduced him to their operations.
He said, “He told me he would introduce me to a business. That was when I learnt that it involved robbing Chinese expatriates. He said we would go to the houses of some Chinese people and pretend to be engineers and that if they allowed us in, we would rob them. He said if they were not at home, we would break in.”
Sunday said he went to two operations at Omole Estate and Gbagada.
He continued, “Three of us went for the operation at Omole and we opened the door with a metal cutter since there was no one in the house. We stole phones, laptops and cash. I wouldn’t know how much we got but I was given N500,000 cash.
“At the operation in Gbagada, we wore coveralls and told the expatriates we wanted to repair electricity cables and they opened their doors for us. We went in and robbed them of their phones, laptop and money. I got N45,000 as my share after that operation.”
He said the locally-made 9mm revolver pistol they used belonged to Jack, and he was able to buy a car for taxi before he was arrested, after policemen traced one of the phones they stole at Gbagada to him.
Meanwhile, Owocho, 30, narrated how he met other members of the gang, saying his first operation with them was at Olusosun in Ojota.
“When we knocked, they opened the gate when they saw policemen. The (fake) policemen told them they suspected that they were involved in drugs. They allowed us into their apartment. We searched and we found three laptops, four phones and the sum of N700,000 and $770,” he said.
Owocho noted that after the operation, they herded all the Chinese and their family members into a room and locked them in before leaving.
He said they shared the money equally and that he got N110,000 and $100.
During their second operation at Medina Estate, Gbagada, Owocho said they used the same operation technique and they were able to get two laptops, one iPad and each of them got N50,000.
“The third operation was at Lekki and each of us got N25,000. On June 7, 2016, James Momoh and I were apprehended. My brother called me and I was arrested.”
Thirty-five-year-old Francis, a father of three, was also a sergeant in the police before he lost his job. He said his late friend, Cpl. Justin Igba, introduced him to some of the gang members. He regretted that his action had brought disgrace to himself and his family.
Even though he had no gun during their first operation together, he said he made use of his plastic pistol, jack knife and tear gas and that he usually stood outside while the rest went in and searched the apartments.
“Getting myself involved in crime is a disgrace to my family,” he concluded.
The police have said the suspects would be soon be charged to court as soon as the investigation was complete.