There’s this Nigerian proverb, which says “If you want to catch a monkey, you have to behave like a monkey” The following tales of these aged robbers bears witness to the truthfulness of the above wise sayings.
This was the tactics that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Lagos state police command applied in order to arrest the three aged men that specialized in robbery and receiving of stolen cars.
These aged crooks are as follows: A 50-year old suspect, Ramoni Adeleke, who confessed to the police that aside from duping many people ofn their hard earned monies, that he shaves his long beard and mustache to avoid being recognized by people who know him as a cleric. The second one and their senior, is a 70-year old Alhaji Lekan Lalegu a.k.a Baba Toyota, and another aged 60-year-old Kolawole Odenide.
A police source, who revealed how the three aged suspects were arrested, said the Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Kayode Aderanti, had got a hint that they were involved in robbery and receiving of stolen cars. The CP promptly directed the Superintendent of Police in charge of SARS, Mr. Abba Kyari, and his team to get the three men and the stolen cars. SARS operatives, therefore, disguised as car snatchers who wanted to sell a stolen car to the gang.
One of them came forward to collect the car. He had entered into negotiation with the SARS operatives before he realized that they were policemen. Meanwhile, Kyari and his men had cordoned off the spot and promptly arrested the would-be receiver.
Lanlegu said it was one Kolawole Odenide, who supplied him with a stolen car. His arrest also led to the arrest of Adeleke at a private mosque he used as an office to dupe people and receive stolen cars. A cleric he was said to have employed to teach people in the mosque and lead prayers was said to have scaled the fence and ran away on sighting policemen.
Adeleke, who described himself as a native of Ade village, Ade South Local Government Area, Osun State, said he was a transporter. He said he built a mosque and employed an alfa (Islamic cleric) to manage it.
He said: “I live in Iba Estate near Lagos State University (LASU) along Badagry Road, Lagos. I am happily married with five children. I built a storey building at Iba and a mosque which I built with N300,000. I built the mosque to honor God and pray to him five times a day. That was 10 years ago.
“In the year 2000, I started thinking of how to make quick money by stealing cars. I was jobless and had no money to feed my family. The man who lured me into car stealing died four years ago. I went to his house to seek advice on how to survive hunger and he taught me how to steal cars.
“He told me that he survived by stealing cars and for 10 years, I stole cars and my poverty disappeared. We would go to a place where a car was parked and used a screw driver to open the door. We would dismantle the wiring and use the starter wire to start the engine.
“While he drove the stolen car, I would drive his own car behind him to wherever he was going to sell, usually a place around Idimu, to an old man called Fatai, who is now late. After selling it for N100,000 then, he would give me N5,000 as my own share.
“The late Fatai had a mechanic workshop, and it was there that I went to meet him that I needed money and he told me about stealing cars.
“When Fatai died five years later, one Shina brought Kola Adeniji to me as a partner in crime. We operated more than five times before we were arrested. There was no gang leader between us. We were a two man gang and anyone could bring a job.
“Our last operation was at Oyigbo, Ebute Meta, Lagos around July this year. We stole one Pick-Up Hylux vehicle and sold it to one Alhaji Lekan for N700,000. I had to shave my beard in the cell to avoid people identifying me as a cleric.
“I bought three commercial buses which ply Ijora-Obalende route, and each of them makes N4,000 return every day except Saturday and Sunday. I was arrested at Atede in Osun State while going to mosque.” The second suspect, Kolawole, said: “I am from Abeokuta, Ogun State. I am a property dealer in Ikorodu, a suburb of Lagos. I have two wives and seven children. I met Adeleke in Idi-Iroko, Ogun State when I was doing smuggling. I knew him through a friend called Shina.
“I learnt about stealing cars about seven years ago. Whenever we opened a car door, tore the starting wire and it refused to start, we abandoned it in the belief that it had a security system. But at times, once you start the engine, the security system becomes useless.
“I was once arrested and taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Panti. I was charged to court and remanded in prison for one week. I had gone on nine operations and stopped before I started again in January because of the economic situation in the country.”