How we burgled jewel store and realized N150 million – suspects

*The suspects

*The suspects

When a popular jewelry shop at Yaba market in Lagos State was burgled  January and gold jewelries worth over N150million  carted away, nobody thought the police would catch up with the perpetrators of the crime given the sophistication with which  they carried out their operation. Traders and residents of that area were thrown into disarray.  They believed the bandits may have gone far away.

The owner of the shop, identified simply as Alhaji, had reported the incident at Yaba police station on January 20, 2013, after receiving a phone call from his employees that his shop has been burgled the previous night and one of the safes which he used in storing gold jewelries was taken away. At that time the police at Yaba, was left with no clue as to who may have carried out the burglary.  They swiftly transferred the case to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, for further investigation.

Crime Alert gathered that the officer in charge of SARS, Superintendent of Police, Abba Kyari, sent a decoy team into the market to snoop around for information and after some days, the operatives received an intelligence report that a goldsmith identified as Ali Mohammed, a Nigerien, has made sudden wealth and he was set to travel to his home country, Niger Republic, to get married and build a house.

The operatives swiftly went after Mohammed and apprehended him at the park when he was about boarding a bus to his country. Mohammed was taken into custody and upon interrogation, he confessed to have taken part in the burglary. He also gave the operatives information which eventually led to the arrest of five others identified as, Kingsley, Adekunle Morufu, Victor Ugwueze, Livinus Onuoha and Friday Ochi, while some of the stolen jewelries were recovered in Benin Republic and Ghana.

When Crime Alert interacted with the arrested suspects, they gave chilling details of how they planned and carried out the burglary.   The suspects also intimated Crime Alert on how they shared and disposed off the stolen jewelries.

How we planned the operation

Mohammed, 28, disclosed that one of his friends who is also a Nigerien brought the job to him and he accepted because he saw it as an opportunity to become rich. “ I am from Niger Republic and I came to Nigeria in 2006. I was formerly carrying load at the Lagos Island market before I got the opportunity to work at Yaba market as a goldsmith. Through the aid of some of my kinsmen in Lagos, I learnt the trade for some months before I was freed.

I usually make gold rings, bracelets and I amend broken necklaces.  I make more than N3000 daily and have been feeding and saving it. Last January, one of my friends Idrisi, who is also a goldsmith in our market brought the job to me. He told me that Alhaji had just returned from Dubai with lots of gold jewelries worth millions of naira and if we can get people who could steal it, then we will be rich.

I then contacted another friend of mine known as Babana to help us get people who could steal the jewelries and then Babana brought in Kingsley, who he said is a professional armed robber that has so many boys. I, Idrisi and Babana, had series of meetings with Kingsley and his boys and we agreed on how to storm the shop.

“The first day we went there, after cutting the padlocks on all the doors, we discovered we couldn’t carry the box.  We left and came back some few weeks later and this time, the shop owner upgraded it’s security and he used a much sophisticated padlock that would be difficult to cut with a saw, so we used a burning torch and gas to burn off the padlock before entering into the shop.

The five heavy metal boxes containing the gold jewelries were still there and we managed to carry the small one. We then took it to a location at Idimu where we shared it. I was the one who did the sharing because I know much about gold. I shared it into nine places and gave equal share to everyone. But we didn’t give Babana any share because he wasn’t present when we did the job.

I melted some of my gold which I sold off in the market for N750,000 and I kept the remainder. I and Idrisi decided to travel to Niamey to get married and probably build a house but on my way to the park where I want to board a bus, the police came and arrested us. They asked if I took part in the burglary of Alhaji’s shop and I told them yes because I don’t want them to maltreat me in any away. I also gave them the phone numbers of all other members of our gang.”

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