The police at Dolphin Estate Division, Ikoyi, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, have arrested two members of a 5-man gang that allegedly stole NITEL cable valued at N250 million.
Police investigation revealed that nemesis caught up with the suspected cable thieves when a police patrol team led by Inspector Olufisayo Idowu ran into the gang while they were allegedly trying to reload the cables into two buses after the first bus they hired from the scene of the theft at Kakawa Street, off Broad Street, Lagos Island, broke down along Osborne Estate expressway, Ikoyi, Lagos at about 3a.m.
The drivers of the two buses were said to have sped off immediately the police patrol team stopped to know what was happening at the spot, while the suspected cable thieves fled into the swampy terrain in the area. But the police chased after them inside the murky water and arrested two of them, while three others escaped.
•The suspected NITEL cable thieves
The police identified the arrested suspects as Femi David, 28, the ring leader who claimed he resides at Ijora. He is a native of Igbokoda in Ondo State, southwest Nigeria.
The other suspect, Michael Etoke, 31, from Calabar, Cross River State, southsouth Nigeria, resides at 26, Ijora Badia Street, Ijora, Lagos.
Those who escaped were identified simply as Saheed, Tempo and Victor.
Items recovered from them, according to the police, include about 5,000 pieces of vandalised NITEL cable, five hammers, four jackknives and six saw blades.
During interrogation, the suspects allegedly confessed that they have been vandalising NITEL cable in Lagos for the past one year.
In his confessional statement to the police, Femi allegedly said: “Emeka introduced me into the business in January 2012, and I served him before I set up my team last year December, and we had only succeeded on three occasions before our arrest.
“I always hire a tipper truck driver who would tie a thick wire to his truck and the head of the cable and pull the cable from underground, while about six labourers who are experts in cutting cables would cut the cable and load them into waiting buses. I would pay them and we normally operate along Broad Street and Kakawa Street area of Lagos Island between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.
“On different occassions, I have sold vandalsied cables for N2 million, N3 million and N5 million to Dongo at Oyingbo area of Mainland and Emeka at Ojota, but I spent my share in drinking beer and sleeping with prostitutes at Ijora Badia railway line, and we have been arrested on two occasions.”
Michael, however, said in his statement that he has only received N25,000, N15,000 and N12,000 on different occasions since he was introduced into the illegal business by Femi.
After interrogation by Corporal Ayiba Sel Baidi, the suspects were arraigned before an Igbosere Magistrate’s Court on a 5-Count charge, two of which are: stealing and vandalising of NITEL amoured cable along Kakawa by Broad street, Lagos Island.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charge and magistrate Mrs. C.J. Momodu admitted them to bail in the sum of N1 million with two sureties in like sum.
The magistrate also directed that one of the sureties must be on level 12 in the civil service.
She adjourned the matter till 2 May, 2013 for mention.
The defendants were moved to Ikoyi Prison pending when they would fulfil their bail conditions.
Following the development, residents of Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos have appealed to the Commissioner of Police Lagos State Command, Umar Manko to immediately provide more logistics and manpower for the DPO in charge of Dolphin Police Division, Ikoyi, SP Musa Abdullahi to enable him continue to provide maximum security for them, saying he is doing a wonderful job.