Four suspected car robbers who specialized in using sedative drugs to snatch cars from owners have been arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of police Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
The suspects are: Kingsley Iwueze,34, whose role is to drive stolen vehicles to Onitsha and other parts of the Southeast; the gang leader, Moses Ugwu, 47; Ugwuoke Euphemia ‘f ‘ 40, who provided the drug used to sedate victims; and Onyebuchi Odoh, 48, who received the stolen cars and sold them.
The suspects, in a bid to escape with the stolen vehicles, usually used a drug identified as Ativan to force their victims into deep sleep for hours.
Police sources said the gang had snatched a red Toyota Corolla saloon car marked GGG 720 FK from one Clifford Echereode of 34 Road , E close Gowon Estate Egbeda, Lagos.
The car, which was used for Uber cab service, according to sources, was snatched from Echereode on April 22, 2019 at about 10:00pm, at Apple Junction Festac, Lagos.
Echereode was engaged by a member of the gang to pick up his brother who purportedly would be returning from Ghana through the Murtala Muhammaed International Airport, Ikeja at about 11 pm.
The cab driver was lured to a bar in Festac Town where he was offered roasted meat (suya), which he ate and became unconscious, while his car, one Infinix Android phone and other valuables were snatched.
Police sources said Iwueze’s arrest and confession led to the apprehension of his gang members, while the said Toyota Corolla car, Toyota Camry (muscle) and Toyota Camry (Big Daddy) car were recovered.
In his confession, Iwueze, a native of Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo state, claimed to have an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) certificate in Agricultural Science from the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri.
The father of two said he relocated to Afromedia area of Ojo, Lagos in 2015.
He said he met Ugwu at a bar in Lagos in March 2019, where he was introduced to car robbery.
He confessed to have snatched three cars in Lagos, together with Moses Ugwu using a substance called Ativan on their victims.
He revealed that the stolen cars were all sold in the Southeast by Ugwu after which they shared the proceeds.
Confessing, Ugwu said: ” My involvement in the crime as a syndicate member can not be denied because we have been arrested and everything is clear. My gang is dreaded because of our mode of operation. I am from Umuida town in Igboeze North Local Government Area of Enugu State; I only attended primary school and ceased to further my education owing to financial difficulties experienced by my parents which I vehemently refused to inherit. Now, I am a father of six children and I do not want them to inherit poverty, hence, my sojourn into crime but we do not use gun. We use sleeping drug which we give our victims to fall into deep sleep till we take their vehicles to the Southeast.
‘’I was into scrap business, I later became jobless and that led me into choosing crime as my alternative means of livelihood. I have the pleasure to inform you that sometime in the year 2018, one Chukwuma introduced me to illegal(car theft) . It is not wise to lie now so that you will have mercy on us now that we have repented from the crimes which the devil made us to commit. I will tell you the truth. I had snatched and sold many cars together with Chukwuma and shared proceeds with him before Chukwuwa died in a ghastly motor accident.
‘’In 2019, one Ejike introduced me to a woman called Euphemia Ugwuoke who aided us in the car snatching deal with some poisonous substance which my gang used in snatching cars including a red Toyota Corolla marked GGG 720 FK.
‘’I was thereafter arrested in Enugu by the operatives of IRT special squad. I call the squad special squad because of the high intelligence they displayed that resulted in my surprise arrest.
In her confession, Euphemia said: “I am a native of Udenu in Udenu Local Government Area of Nsukka, Enugu State, married with four children. My husband is Mr Augustin Ugwuoke but we had a misunderstanding in 2002 but thank God we are now talking of settlement to resolve the misunderstanding. He is working as a mechanic and motor spare parts dealer in Markurdi .However, I have a place behind Army Barracks, Onitsha where I sell food and drinks.”
‘’My boyfriend was a car snatcher and it was the offence that sent us to prison in Owerri, Imo State, in 2013; we were released in 2017. However, I had also been remanded in prison for phone snatching in Gboko, Benue State. It happened that one of my friends snatched phone and presented it to me as special gift, unfortunately, I gave it to my son not knowing that it was a stolen phone and the worse is that the victim or owner of the phone was robbed.
‘’Before I knew that it, the police had tracked my son and arrested him and on interrogation he confessed that I gave him the phone as gift. My son was released and I was arrested and charged to court. I was remanded in prison but my bail was later perfected and I regained my freedom. However my freedom did not last when my brother Ejike brought this Moses to my house in Onitsha (pointing at Moses her gang member also in police net) begging me to help them to buy the Ativan drug . Moses gave me N15,000 for 10 sachets of the drug. I did not follow them to operations but they came to me because I know the drug. Yes, I knew that they wanted to use it to do snatching work.’’
Another member of the gang, Kingsley said he was formerly a driver in a bank before he took to robbery.
” I am from Isiala Mbano in Imo State,and married with two kids. I had worked with a bank on N35,000 salary from 2015 to 2016 when the bank sacked all its drivers. I later joined another on a salary of N50,000. It was Moses who advised me to resign from the bank, because they didn’t pay well. I knew Moses through Jude on phone. Jude asked me whether I had money to buy a car and I said no. He said his friend had a car for sale at any amount and I still told him that I had no dime.
‘’Jude told me that his friend Moses needed a taxi driver to take him to a hotel. He asked whether the driver would accept to sleep in a hotel. We went to the first hotel but Moses did not like it, the second one was N12,000 but the third one was N4,500.While in the hotel Moses said he needed to eat and we left to a nearby joint. While with the driver, he asked me to buy some Suya and I put the sleeping powder in the one we gave the driver.
‘’After the driver slept off, I collected the car’s key, and drove the car from where he parked it and zoomed off. At a reasonable distance, I called Moses and he met me where I parked and we drove to Onitsha. Moses gave me N15,000 to go back to Lagos. I later sent my bank account number to him and he sent N170,000 to me.’’