By Evelyn Usman
A suspected leader of a robbery gang that has been terrorising Ogun state and its environs has been arrested by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Ogun State Police Command, Imagbon, Abeokuta. The suspect, Ibrahim Olasunkanmi, popularly known as Jaga, reportedly escaped from Akure Prisons where he was awaiting trial during a jail break in 2013.
How he got into Police net
Curiously, he is a 1994 graduate of Philosophy from Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University), Ago-Iwoye. He was arrested alongside four suspected members of his gang at OPIC roundabout junction, Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta, after an operation, last week.
The suspects were said to have operated using two motorbikes, one of which was driven by Olasunkanmi to attack fun seekers returning from MKO Abiola Stadium.
Luck, however, ran against them after they were accosted by a team of policemen who subjected them to a search following their incoherent answers.
At the end of the search, Police sources said three live cartridges were recovered from Olasunkanmi’s pocket, consequent upon which they were taken to the station. At the Police station, sources hinted that further searches were conducted on them and a locally made, cut-to-size pistol was also discovered from his waist.
Suspect opens up
In this interview with Crime Alert, the 49-year-old father of two disclosed that he started robbing during his undergraduate days. He revealed that his gang used what is known as ‘Italian method’ to open bank vaults, no matter how strong it is.
Among other robbery operations perpetrated by his gang, according to him, was that of SS Peter & Paul Anglican Church in Ake area of Abeokuta, four months ago. He said he met some of his gang members while serving a jail term at the Akure Prisons.
Reveals operational name
His words: “ My operational name is Jaga. I started stealing when I was still a student of Ogun State University, Ago Iwoye. We usually went for operations outside the state. One of the robbery attacks was that of Akure branch of Union Bank in 2005. I was not the leader of the gang. The operation was led by Alhaji
( Pastor) Matthew, Saudi, Cosmos and I.
It was carried out before the workers resumed . We did not use guns to shatter the glasses. We used cylinder gas, cutters, chisel and other house breaking implements to gain entry. While inside the banking hall, we made straight to the vault where we used Italian method to open it.
Italian method as mode of operation
At this point, he was interrupted and asked to explain what Italian method is. He giggled and continued: “You won’t understand. Italian model involves applying sense when breaking into banks that are usually fortified with high-tech gadgets before using house-breaking implements to gain entrance.
The method is also used to break into vaults, no matter how fortified the lock is. At the end of the operation, we made away with N50 million. I got N4.5 million. That was aside the money I collected from other places (in the bank) that I tucked into my pocket.”
Arrested in Ondo
The bandit further stated that after the operation, he immediately left for his maternal home in Ibadan, Oyo State,where he squandered part of the money on women and clothes. He also said he used part of it to buy an acre of land in Ogun State.
But his flamboyant life style was short-lived, following his arrest by policemen from Ondo State Command, at his hide out. Seven other members of the robbery gang that participated in the Akure bank robbery were reportedly arrested also from their respective hideouts and taken to Akure, Ondo state, for discreet investigation.
Olasunkanmi and members of his gang were reportedly charged before a Chief Magistrate’s Court in Akure, where they were remanded in prison, awaiting trial. Seven years into their stay in prison (in 2013), some gun men reportedly invaded the prison and effected the release of their members. Other inmates, including Olasunkanmi and members of his gang reportedly cashed in on the opportunity and fled. He said:
“ I seized that opportunity to escape through the bush. I spent three days in the bush until I came out to an express way, from where I boarded a vehicle to my mother’s home in Ibadan, Oyo state capital. Some friends gave me money and I left my mother’s place for Lagos to hide.
From there, I returned to my father’s place at Oke-Efon, Abeokuta, where I formed a new gang. Members of my gang include Femi Jonah, Tunde Ayedotun, Idowu Timothy and two others, Nzeribe and Zobo, who are still at large. We had three locally- made guns.
“In February, 2015, my gang attacked SS Peter & Paul Anglican Church, in Abeokuta, where we made away with a huge amount of money including laptops, computer sets, mobile handsets and other valuables. We sold the stolen items in the market, pretending they were second hand ware.”
Advise to criminals
He, however, ended up with an admonition to others still in the illicit business to repent saying: “Robbery does not pay. Though it is difficult to leave if you are getting money from it. But such money will never be spent in peace because you will always be watching your back for policemen.”
Two suspected members of his gang, Idowu Timothy and Tunde Ayedotun, were also discovered to be jail birds. While 46-year old Timothy who hails from Egbe, Kogi State, confessed to have bolted away from Ado-Ekiti Prisons during a jail break last year. 25 year-old Ayedotun, on his part , said he had served a two-year jail term at Ilaro Prison for robbery.