Emeka Chukwuemeka, the state’s Police Public Relations Officer, (PPRO) made this known at the headquarters of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, Awkuzu, Oyi Local Government Area of the state.
He revealed that a 16-year-old boy identified as Ifeanyi Onwe, who was said to be a specialist in bank robbery was among the 17 other suspects arrested by the command in different parts of the state for various crime.
He said items recovered from the suspects included three AK 47 rifles, two pump action guns, four locally-made pistols, some quantity of ammunition, a television set and a teddy bear used for concealing guns.
Chukwuemeka further revealed that the 16-year-old was alleged to be using beautiful young girls in tracking down customers that came to banks to withdraw large sums of money.
The spokesman said that some of the other suspects were alleged to specialise in blocking major roads in Nawfia, Awgbu, Ufuma, Abba, among other areas where they robbed people of their belongings.
He alleged that some of the suspects were involved in the murder of a 55-year-old man in Awgbu community and a woman at Nanka four days ago, and also in the raping of girls in parts of the state.
“To the ordinary eye, the TV set and the teddy bear they were carrying were just what they were meant to be. But for this gang, what they do is to open the TV set and rip open the teddy’s tommy, conceal pistols and ammunition in them and when they enter any vehicle, nobody will know they had guns until they begin operation,” Chukwuemeka said.
“They invented this style to escape from the police and other security agencies, but our men were able to beat them to their game,” he said.
Onwe, the 16-year-old suspect confessed to the crime, saying he plants young girls in banks at Onitsha to get information for his gang members.
“I was a student in a secondary school in Onitsha before I dropped out in JSS 1 because my parents could not fund my education. Thereafter, I met a friend who introduced me into this deal. We have carried out many robbery operations in Onitsha and its environs,” Onwe said.
Ebuka, one of the suspects who claimed he was innocent said he was arrested by SARS operatives at his friend’s house when he went for visit.
“I went to visit my friend without knowing that he was being wanted by the police for robbery. As I was still there, SARS operative broke into the house and arrested all of us. I don’t really know what I did,” Ebuka said.