The police in Abia State have arrested 10 members of a gang which allegedly robbed a bullion van on 26 July and carted away about N390 million. The Commissioner of Police in the state, Janet Agbede, said the suspects belonged to a 14-member gang that specialised in bullion van robbery in different parts of the country. She said they were arrested at different times and locations in Abia, Delta, Lagos, Ondo, Rivers, and Imo State.
Parading the suspects before reporters at the police headquarters in Umuahia on Monday, she said the arrest was made possible by “a special intelligence, technologically-led investigation squad”.
She said the squad was set up in the aftermath of the July attack which occurred at Ntigha Junction on the Isialangwa axis of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.
Ms Agbede said: “I carefully studied their modus operandi and set up a special intelligence, technologically-led investigation squad, with a clear directive to arrest and recover weapons used by the deadly armed gang.
“The squad systematically commenced operation, applying speed and accuracy.”
According to her, the effort of the squad led to the arrest of the suspects at different locations and days.
Ms Agbede said the suspects confessed to the crime in their statements to the police. She said the suspects confessed to have robbed bullion vans in Ajah in Lagos, Akure Road in Ondo State, Asaba and Mbaise in Imo. The suspects confessed that the Abia attack was executed after they successfully mounted about two months surveillance on the bullion van, the police commissioner said.
The suspects including Adesoji Adeniyi, also known as “Soji”, and Albert Nwachukwu, also known as “White”, were arrested in Lagos State.
Others were Felix Ajalaja, Moshood Opeyemi, also known as “Abiola”, and Azubuike Amaefule, also known as “Zubby”, arrested in Rivers.
The rest were Nnamdi Nwaosu, also known as “Prophet”, Monday Samuel, also known as “MD”, and Matthew Christmas, also known as “Aluwa”, arrested in Imo, Ondo and Delta, respectively.
Other suspects were two brothers from Abia, Chikwendu and Prosper Israel, arrested in Abia.
Prosper told reporters he joined his brother in criminal activities after he was dismissed from the State Security Service.
Weapons recovered from the suspects included one General Purpose Machine gun with 53 rounds of live ammunition, 13 AK47 rifles with 1,749 live ammunition, and two improvised dynamites. Others were cut-to-size double-barrel gun, five live cartridges and 84 AK47 magazines. The operatives also impounded a Mercedes Benz truck allegedly used by the gang to conceal their firearms. They also recovered N10.1 million from the suspects out of the N390 million allegedly stolen from the bullion van. The police commissioner said that investigation was still in progress to ensure the arrest of other members of the gang. NAN recalls that the affected bullion van was conveying cash from a bank in Aba to Umuahia, when it ran into a blockade mounted by robbers. Police confirmed the robbers shot and killed the bank’s cash officer, while three police operatives sustained bullet injuries.
They also confirmed the police shot dead one of the gang members during a shootout.
Meanwhile, Ms Agbede has appealed to Abia residents to continue to assist the police with useful and timely information to enable them to take proactive steps in fighting crime.