An ex-convict, Maduabuchi Ngorka, 34, may be on his way back to prison, eight months after serving a one-year jail term in Lagos.
Ngorka is in trouble for the second time alongside two others – John Ogwu and Kelvin Ikega – over an alleged theft that went sour.
CRIME DIGEST gathered that all three men allegedly connived to steal an articulated vehicle and 132 freezers in Lagos. They were said to have sold the items to a receiver in Benin-City, capital of Edo State.
In 2010, Ngorka, who sold car antennas in the Mushin area of Lagos, was jailed for oil bunkering. Instead of leaving the prison a reformed person, he made contact with a fellow jailbird named Emeka, who had confided in him that he earned a living by stealing articulated vehicles laden with goods.
Emeka was usually informed by his contacts whenever such a vehicle headed towards a major distributor. With the help of his friends, he would seize the goods and divert them.
“Emeka had told me he was successful most of the time. So when he finished his prison term a few months after I did mine, he contacted me. I met him at Tin Can Island and he introduced me to Ogwu. He told me had worked on several occasions with Ogwu. My task was to finance their operations and to find buyers for the goods after they had been stolen.
“They told me they had an operation in the works and requested N25,000. They said they needed the money to buy fuel and drinks. Although I gave them the money, the operation didn’t come through,” Ngorka said.
Two weeks later, Ngorka learnt that a trailer containing 132 freezers in Apapa was heading for a warehouse somewhere on the Lagos Mainland. Emeka wanted to bring in two more persons and he needed a bus to convey all the members of the gang for the operation. Once again, Ngorka obliged.
But matters assumed a different dimension when Ngorka gave the gang N10,000 to finance the operation. Ogwu demanded another N10,000, claiming that he needed to give his pregnant wife the money before leaving home for any operation. When Ngorka spurned his demand, Ogwu opted out of the operation despite the fact that he was involved in its planning.
Sometime last August, at about 10 pm, the gang gathered for the operation. Two serving soldiers were said to have joined them.
At the Liverpool end of Apapa, the gang blocked the path of the targeted vehicle with their bus, claiming that it hit their vehicle. With the help of the soldiers whom the victims claimed were armed, the driver and his assistant were dragged from the vehicle and forced into the waiting bus.
Another member of the gang then pretended to drive goods-laden vehicle towards a military barracks. Unknown to the victims, it was being driven to a warehouse in Agege. After storing the stolen goods there, the vehicle was abandoned somewhere on the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway. The driver and his assistant were later dumped somewhere at Mowe on the same expressway.
Narrating his role in the operation, Ikega told CRIME DIGEST that he had come to Lagos about two months ago in search of greener pastures. He said, “I was in the process of relocating to Lagos and had come to spend time with a cousin of mine at Oke-Afa (Isolo). I have known Ngorka for sometime because we are from the same village.
“He called me on the cell-phone a few days before I departed Lagos and I told him that I would leaving in two days. The next day, he called again and told me to meet him at Iyana-Ipaja.
“Ngorka took me to a place in Lagos. I can’t remember what it was called now. It seemed he had some goods for sale stored there and a buyer was going to meet him there on that day. Although we waited, the buyer didn’t show up. Eventually we got word that the buyer was coming the next day. That was when Ngorka asked me to come back with him the next day.
“He said since I had already planned to travel, that I should come with my bag. He said he needed me to be there when the goods would be loaded into another truck. He wanted me to count the number of freezers that would go into the truck.”
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko, said Ngorka and his accomplices were eventually arrested by men of the Special Anti Robbery Squad in Lagos, adding that the suspected crminials had driven two trucks containing the 132 freezers to Benin-City.
Manko said,“The driver of the stolen trailer after he made his way back to Lagos, had made a report at the Apapa police division that a six-man gang had forcefully taken a trailer containing 132 freezers from him.
“The case was eventually transferred to the SARS and through investigation, we were able to track down Ogwu and arrest him. Although he hadn’t taken part in this particular hijacking, he was well aware of the entire plan.
“An ambush was staged for Ngorka who was at Onitsha at the time. Ogwu called him on the phone and lured him with plans of hijacking a trailer load of Ajinomoto from Agbara, which was supposed to be headed for a warehouse in Mushin.
“Ngorka fell for the bait and gave away his location at Onitsha; that was how he was arrested by the SARS team who staged the ambush. Investigation is on to apprehend the receiver and other members of the gang, including the two soldiers, who are still at large.”
The stolen freezers were allegedly sold for the sum of N2.3m, of which Ngorka had already received payment of N980,000.