My story, by one-armed man arrested for robbery
A ONE-armed man, Adebayo Ojomo (42), has expressed shock for being paraded as a robbery suspect by the Lagos State Police Command. Ojomo was paraded by the police on Tuesday at its headquarters in GRA, Lagos alongside some alleged members of a robbery gang Ojomo was said to belong to.
Ojomo said he had decided to part ways with the other suspects the day he wanted to pay them N2,000 for his fraternity vest at a hotel in Lekki area of Lagos, as he overheard them discussing about an operation and how to procure guns for it.
Ironically, he was one of the only two of the 13 suspected members of the gang who admitted that the gang was involved in robbery activities. The 11 others were adamant that their gathering at the said hotel had nothing to do with robbery. They said they were in the habit of going to the hotel regularly to relax, drink and retire home without committing any crime.
They said it only happened that on that particular day, they saw some members of the cult group called Eye Fraternity having their initiation ceremony somewhere in the compound, which they said was different from the spot where they sat to enjoy themselves as responsible guests. The other suspects include Ayomide Sunny, Rilwan Salaudeen, Tosin Jacob, Ademagun Muraina, Suleiman Abolaji, Babatunde Fashola, James Imeh, Olumide Tosin, Kola Abanikanda, Ibrahim Shakiru, Adedeji Adekunle and Ogunshola Oladimeji.
Parading the 13 suspects on Tuesday, Lagos Commissioner of Police, Umaru Manko, said on March 1, 2014, at about 3.35 am, the Divisional Police Officer of Ilasan Police Division, Lekki, received a distress call that some hoodlums had converged on the hotel and were preparing to perpetrate their evil act.
Manko said: “Based on that information, a team of policemen, led by the DPO Gbenga Olorunfemi, a Chief Superintendent of Police, proceeded to the scene. On sighting the policemen, they (suspects) took to their heels, but the policemen gave them a hot chase, which led to the arrest of 13 of them. They wore T-shirts bearing the inscription ‘Supremost Eye Confraternity.’ “
According to Manko, the items recovered from them included a set of sound system, numerous cell phones, two buses with registration numbers AAA 265 XJ and APP 198 XJ, as well as one Infinity SUV with registration No. Epe 505 MD. He said the case was later referred to the State Criminal Investigatio Department (SCID), Yaba, for proper investigation.
He said further investigation revealed that the celebration the suspects were having at the hotel was the birthday of some members of the gang who had just been initiated into their cult. He said majority of their members were said to have come from Bariga, Ajah and some parts of Ogun State for the ceremony.
In his own defence, Ojomo, who has only one arm, said: “My left hand was amputated when I had a fatal motor accident. I am not a criminal; neither do I intend to become an armed robber. I cannot rob with one hand.
“What really happened is that I used to go to the hotel to seek fun, drink, smoke and generally enjoy myself as much as the little money I had on me would allow. On that fateful day, I was in the hotel when I saw the Eye Confraternity boys. I looked at the inscriptions on their shirts very well and saw that ‘Supremost Eye Confraternity’ was boldly written on them, and I liked the vest.
“I went to where they were assembled and asked them what they were doing but they did not answer me. They were just looking at me. I told them that I liked the vest and would like to have one even if I had to pay. They told me that it was meant only for members of Supremost Eye Confraternity.
“They told me to either sit with them or leave, as membership was not by force. Innocently, I sat down, paid N2,000 and collected my own vest. As I was putting it on, I overheard some of them discussing how to procure guns, where to operate and other dirty details which were not good for the ears of any responsible person.
“I wanted to return my own vest and collect my N2,000 back. Unfortunately, the police came at that particular time and asked everybody to surrender or they would talk to us with guns. They arrested everybody, including myself. I tried to explain to the police that I had just met them and that when I realised that they were cult people, I wanted to leave them even at the risk of forfeited the N2,000 I paid for the vest.
“I am telling you the truth. I did not know them before. It was their fraternity vest and the way they entertained themselves that attracted me. If I had known them very well before their meeting at the hotel, I would not have gone near them, not to talk of joining them. It is quite unfortunate that the police have refused to listen to me up till now. Look at me; I cannot rob with one hand.”
Another suspect, who claimed to be innocent, Shakiru (29), said he was a bus conductor on the Ajah-Lekki route. He said: “I was arrested at a hotel in Etiosa, Lekki area of Lagos State. My arrest was a surprise to me because I never expected to be arrested by the police without committing an offence.
“To be sincere, I used to frequent the hotel to smoke, drink and look for beautiful women to chat with. I am not a womaniser and I have been hearing how some women used to carry deadly diseases, like AIDS. So, I don’t go after women. I was only going to the hotel to enjoy the sweat of my labour.
“I don’t get much from being a bus conductor, but I like to go to the hotel to look around, pass time and become happy before going home. You know that bus conductor work is full of stress. I am telling you the truth. I am not one of them. Ask any of them here whether I am one of them. If I were one of them, I would have run away when the police came. I felt I was innocent, so I did not panic. But the police arrested me because I was in the hotel and not because I was one of them.
“I would not lie to you; the boys bought drinks for everybody who was present when they gathered at the hotel. But that does not make me one of them because of the one or two bottles of beer I drank on their account.”
The third suspect, Sanni (32), claims that he is a furniture maker and was not a member of the gang. Defending himself, he said: “I am innocent. I only took my girlfriend to the hotel to have fun. We have been going there to enjoy ourselves and enjoy the money I suffered to get.
On the Friday I was arrested, I was in the bay with my girlfriend, enjoying my drinks. I did not care to know the boys the police were calling hoodlums. The boys were at the back of the hotel. I was with my girlfriend at a different location in the hotel when the police stormed the place. I did not panic. I am surprised that I was arrested, because an innocent person should not be afraid of the police.
“I am a hardworking person. I do furniture work. If I knew that the police would raid the hotel on that fateful day, I would not have gone there. I am innocent. I won’t lie to you.”
Another suspect, Oladimeji (22), also claimed to be innocent. He said: “I am innocent. I am a professional DJ. I don’t work in the hotel. On that day, a guy called Shakiru came to my shop and parked my speakers. I was not around when he came. I was watching a football march in the Germany league. When I went back to my shop, they told me that the guy, a village boy, had come to take some speakers away to the hotel.
“Initially, I did not want to go to the hotel but because I had wanted to go and check my amplifier at the hotel, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. Believe me, when I got there, the whole hotel was surrounded by policemen. It would have been disastrous if I had attempted to run because they were all armed with guns. They just walked up to me and arrested me.”
Asked why he was there at the odd hour of 3 am, he said: “I had been going there anytime I liked because the hotel people know me very well. I can even sleep there. I never knew that such a thing would happen in the hotel because it is a well respected hotel.”
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