By Evelyn Usman
Operatives of Rapid Response Squad, RRS of the Lagos State Police Command have arrested 12 suspected members of a robbery gang ,who allegedly hacked a tanker escort , abandoning him to die in a bush in Ondo state, before diverting his 45,000 litres tank of kerosene to sell to ready buyers.
Surprisingly, driver of the truck identified simply as Amara , said to be on the run, was alleged to have connived with the suspects .
Vanguard was informed that the truck with plate number ENU 751 XH, loaded the product at Optima Depot, in Koko area of Warri Delta State , on February 1, 2017 and was heading to Sango Otta, Ogun state, when it developed a fault at Ore, Ondo state, same day.
Apprehension set in after effort by owner of the product, Mrs. Nafisat Osinowo, to reach her representative, Mr Tunji Ajayi , who escorted the truck to Warri, on the phone proved abortive.
Victim and suspects
A distraught Osinowo was said to have reported the case to the Lagos State Police Command from where it was detailed to the RRS.
Osinowo explained that “ Our representative escorting the truck called me when they got to Benin that the tyre of the truck was not good . That was in the afternoon. He called again at 11:00 p.m. that the truck was parked in Ore.
Since it is our tradition not to travel at night, our resolve was that they proceeded on the journey at 5:00 a.m., next day. But efforts to get him the following day proved abortive until few days later when we were called that he was in an intensive care unit at the hospital”.
The victim, who escaped death by the whiskers, explained that the last thing he remembered that fateful night, was a heavy metal landing on his head after which he passed out.
He woke up to find himself in a ditch , where he was dumped by his assailants , who apparently thought he was dead.
He managed to crawl to the express-way, from where he was rushed to the hospital.
Police sources hinted that some of the suspects were arrested in Ondo, Ogun and Edo states. Among those arrested were owners of petrol stations who bought the stolen goods.
Police sources said : “ As at yesterday, the operatives had arrested 23 people in connection with the attempted murder on Tunji Ajayi, the representative of Samsuat Petroleum and the diversion of the truck. The suspects included buyers and sub – buyers of the products.
The syndicate, led by Chibueze Nnamdi, a building materials dealer in Ore, Ondo State, Edwin Ozor, Oluchukwu and one Shedrach, now at large, had raised N800, 000:00 to pay for the services of those engaged in the course of the diesel diversion”.
According to Nnmadi, “I invited Akinboyewa into the deal. After briefing him, he invited Ofunue. The instruction we gave them was to tie the hands and legs of the escort and hide him somewhere until we were done with the deal .
The instruction was not to kill him. But they hit the man with a hammer on the head and dumped his body in a ditch.
Biggy (Ozor) and I raised N800, 000 to settle the boys. Out of the amount, we lodged them in a hotel, fed and took care of other emergencies in the course of the job. We promised Akinbiyewa N500, 000 for his role .
“After collecting the truck, we drove to Ijebu Ode, where we discharged 2,800 litres. From there , we proceeded to Lagos, where we offloaded 19,200 in one petrol station, 14,000 in another and 8,400 in the last filling station”, he said.
Reacting to the incident, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Famous Cole , said that the suspects would be charged to court upon completion of investigation. He informed that the suspects had been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Yaba.