In less than a month, the remains of Eze Okoro, 46-year-old trader who was found dead after a shootout between operatives of Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Ikeja, Lagos and a gang of armed robbers at Ijaiye-Ojokoro, will be committed to mother earth but the controversy surrounding the death still lingers.
The widow of the deceased, Ugonna Okoro had accused SARS operatives of shooting her husband on the back, killing him instantly in front of his residence. According to Mrs. Okoro, her husband met his untimely death few minutes after he returned home from business at about 8.00 pm on that day. She said he was relaxing outside with a friend and his pregnant wife when they were accosted by some policemen who killed her husband.
But the police who gave Crime Guard a different account of the incident explained that they had a gunfight with a gang of armed robbers who attempted to rob a branch of UBA on Osolo Way, Ajao- Estate from a nearby hotel and they succeeded in arresting a member of the gang identified as Kabiru Suleiman with an Ak47 rifle.
The member of the gang who was arrested during the bloody operation threw more light into the controversial case. Kabiru Suleiman narrated his story to Crime Guard at the State police command Headquarters, Ikeja. He disclosed how members of his gang with another gang planned the UBA robbery. According to him, “I am 28 years old.
I started robbery in 2006 in Mushin area of Lagos State,and I was using Okada, but in 2008, I was arrested for stealing a commercial motorcycle by the police at Area D Command and I was charged to court and remanded in prison. During my stay in the prison, I had a friend we called Ogbologo and we were very close.
He asked what brought me to the prison and I told him that it was a mere Okada theft and Ogbologo felt disappointed. He then promised to make me a big time robber. When I was about gaining my freedom, he gave me the phone number to one of his friends who he said operated with a gang that uses Ak47 rifles.
When I came out, I called the phone number and the receiver identified himself as pencil, he asked where I got his phone number and I told him. He then asked what I wanted from him, I told him that I want to join his gang. He asked if I know how to operate a rifle and I said yes, he asked if I know that the job is a no mercy job and I said yes.
He then sked me to meet him at Ifo in Ogun State for proper indoctrination. I joined them and I met Pencil the leader of the gang, Ijebu, Saheed and AY. Our gang has three Ak47 rifles and two brownie pistols and I followed them in executing three operations in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
I usually don’t follow them to operations in Lagos State because I don’t want to be spotted by people who might know me, but on March 9, 2013, Pencil called all of us and said that there was a job for us at UBA, and we were to cooperate with other gang that has the job in executing it. Initially, I refused to take part in the operation but Pencil insisted that I must follow them because they needed more men.
I was told that the robbery would be at Ajao Estate, but on our way to the scene from Ogun State, we got information that seven members of the gang we were to assist in the operation had been ambushed and arrested by the police. We quickly turned towards Sango Ota, but before we got to tollgate, Pencil had a change of mind and said he can not leave Ogun State empty handed and return empty handed.
He then said he wanted us to operate in Abule- Egba but we will have to do that at night. At about 5pm and we had our weapons hidden in a traveling bag and we drove to a hotel close to the spot Pencil wanted us to operate. While in the hotel bar, the place was crowed and filled with customers, we bought drinks and drank until 8pm when a member of our gang received a call. He went outside the bar to answer the call.
Few minutes later, he sprinted back, screaming Agbo Agbo, meaning everyone should be at alert that there was trouble. Immediately, we opened the bag and picked our weapons.
Everyone became alert and waited for the police and when they tried to enter into the bar, we shot at them and they ran back outside. All the customers and people working in the hotel started running helter -skelter. Then, we sighted an exit door at the back and Pencil ordered us to use it. He was in front and he started shelling the entire area to provide cover for escape.
Suddenly, my rifle jammed and stopped firing and the policemen swooped on me. But before that, Pencil and others fired indiscriminately as they made efforts to escape and they did that without minding that the bullet would hit innocent people. While we were desperately firing to create an escape route, I noticed that the police were not even firing back.
Rather, they were bent on closing up on us. If they had fired back, they would have killed me before my arrest. When I saw that they had closed in on my own escape route, I surrendered and raised my two hands. After I was arrested and hand cuffed, they searched the entire area, they brought the traveling bag we used in conveying the arms to me and they also brought the corpse of a man and asked if I knew him and I said no.
Perhaps, that was how it was discovered that an innocent person had been hit by the indiscriminate firing by our leader, embarked on while trying to escape,”he stated. Vanguard