•Target POS operators, women, okada riders

From Molly Kilete, Abuja

A four-man Abuja robbery gang, specialising in robbing POS operators, snatching motorcycles, attacking and robbing women of their handbags, jewelleries, snatching mobile phones and other valuables, has opened up on its motives. Members of the gang were arrested by the Police Command of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The gang operated mostly at Maitama, Garki, Wuse and Central Business districts, targetting banks, shopping malls, markets and bus stops among others. Suspects paraded by police included Isah, Sunday, John and Peter.

Police claimed they had been on the wanted list for long. They were arrested following complaints from POS operators, road users, passengers and members of the public over the incessant attacks on them.

Items found with them included three locally made pistols, 14 rounds of live ammunition, one English pistol, jewelleries, 20 mobile phones and various amount of money.

Leader of the gang, Isah, blamed the devil for his involvement in the criminal act. He said he had been in the criminal act for about seven years now and solely recruited the other members.

He told Daily Sun: “I went into robbery when I lost my job. We targeted special areas in the FCT. We looked for where people converged to do one business or the other and attacked them.

“People who go to banks, shopping malls, markets and the Central Business District usually have money with them. We usually attacked them and collected their valuables from them either when they were going to shop or after shopping.

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“We started work like every other person by waking up very early. We would go to our operational bases for the day. On getting to where we were to operate, we would take strategic positions to monitor people they perceived to have money. We would surround them, bring out a gun or a knife and ask the person to cooperate or get killed.

“Our victims usually didn’t want to be killed. They handed over everything they had to us. Then, we would escape to another spot.

“We usually placed surveillance around POS operators to see how much they had before carrying out any attack. To do this, two of our members would approach the POS operator pretending to be customers wanting to withdraw money. After getting their attention, we would bring out our weapons and order them to bring out money in their possession.

“We sometimes made over N500,000 in a day, depending on where we operated. We also robbed women of their handbags and jewelleries. We attacked these women mostly at bus stops and other busy places especially when they were trying to board commercial vehicles or their private cars.

“It is easy to know if a woman has money from the kind of clothes, shoes, jewelleries and mobile phone she uses. If the phone in her possession is the expensive one, then you can be sure of getting something reasonable from her handbags.

“In the case where we didn’t find monies in some of the handbags we snatched from these women, we took their ATM cards, went to the nearest ATM point and withdrew as much as we could and destroyed the card afterwards.

“We equally attacked commercial motorcycle operators and robbed them of their motorcycles. We simply pretended to be passengers and asked the rider to take them to a particular place.

“We operated in twos in this case. The rider unaware of what lay ahead of him, agreed to carry us for a certain amount only for us to attack and collect his motorcycle halfway into the journey. After snatching the motorcycle, we said sold it off to a standby buyer and shared the money.”

Another member of the gang, Sunday, said: “I joined the gang two weeks ago. I am an indigene of Plateau State. I was a farmer before relocating to Abuja. He travelled to Abuja with a gun, which I used to protect myself from being attacked in the farm back home in Plateau. I have not really benefited anything before we were rounded up by the police.”