By Ifeanyi Okolie
Four years after a notorious bank robbery kingpin, Clement Abanara, alias Millions, was arrested by operatives of the Force Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, charged to court and remanded in Ikoyi Correctional Center for coordinating bank robberies in Lagos State, his gang members have disclosed how he had continued to coordinate more armed robberies across the country while still serving his term in prison.
Seven members of his gang identified as Sunday Solemu, Alfred Robinson, Abuchi Alfred, Emeka Ilo, Ekene Igbanifore and two dismissed soldiers, Ayeni Samuel and Emeka Ariston, were arrested by operatives of the IRT, as they were planning to rob a commercial bank in Asaba area of Delta State while a GPMG, six AK-47, 51 magazines, 1,620 rounds of live ammunition, two vehicles, breaking instruments and charms, were recovered from them during the raid.
Police source disclosed to Vanguard that the IRT operatives, led by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, swooped on the suspects after they launched a manhunt for members of the gang who carried out the Ebonyi State bullion van attack and they discovered that the robbery operation was coordinated by Millions, a notorious armed robber serving time in prison.
A source disclosed that IRT operatives arrested a cousin to Millions, Alfred Robinson, based in Asaba Delta state who revealed how Millions had been coordinating their operations from his detention in Ikoyi Correctional Centre, Lagos.
He disclosed that Millions, who took part in the 2015 bank robberies in Lekki, Ikorodu, Festac and Agbara (all in Lagos), where millions of naira were carted away, brought in the soldiers who assisted them in organizing their operations.
It was also gathered that the two vehicles used in the Ebonyi State bullion van robbery attack, a Toyota Lexus and a Four Runner, SUV, were robbed from their owners, who were kidnapped in Owerri, Imo State and a ransom of N5million was paid for their release.
vehicles were taken to Onitsha Anambra State, where their trackers were removed before the suspects proceeded to Ebonyi state for their operation.
Alfred Robinson disclosed during his arrest that Ebonyi bullion van robbery would have been successful if the van had appeared at the location and time they were expecting it adding that the four policemen escorting the van were killed because they took members of the gang unaware.
He said that after the operation failed, they proceed to Akwa, Anambra state and robbed a recharge card dealer of the sum of N7.5million, cash and other valuables.
He, however, led the IRT operatives in arresting six members of his gang including the dismissed soldiers and the recovery of the gang’s arms and ammunition.
During his interview, Robinson, who is a father of four disclosed that he also took part in the 2015 Lekki bank robbery in Lagos State. He said his cousin, Millions invited him for the operation, after which he got N5million as his share.
In his confession, Alfred Robinson, 45, said; “I am from Gelegele Local Government Area of Edo State and I am married with four children. I was a wood logger before I went into oil bunkering.
“It was my cousin, Millions who introduced me to the oil bunkering business. Millions also got me involved in armed robbery. I made the N5million invested in oil bunkering from the 2015 Lekki bank robbery.
“That was the business I was doing before my friend, Sunday Soyemi, brought this Ebonyi state bullion van robbery. I called my cousin in prison who gave me all the expertise I needed for the operation.
“He was the person who linked me to the soldiers I used for the operation, he also advised that we should not use our vehicles for the operation, but we should use robbed cars.
“We followed his instructions. Soyemi brought the guns and dynamite we used for the operation but the operation failed because we weren’t prepared at the time the bullion van came to our spot. We exchanged fire with the police escort and the van escaped,” he stated.
On his part, Sunday Soyemi, 46, a native of Bayelsa state said the bullion van robbery failed because the police escort following it noticed their presence and opened fire on them.
“We weren’t prepared when the bullion van and the escort approached our location. They opened fire on us and we weren’t prepared. We shot back but the van escaped.
“We killed four of the policemen and left Ebonyi state immediately. We proceeded to Akwa, Anambra State and robbed a man of the sum of N7.5million, then we were in Asaba, strategizing on bank to rob when the police swooped on us.”
The dismissed soldiers, Ayeni Samuel and Emeka Ariston said they got involved in robbery because they were looking for money to fix their lives and support their families.
They said they knew Millions through their friend serving at the Ikoyi Prison and Millions promised to assist them if they worked for him.
Ayeni said; “I joined the Nigeria army in 2003 and I was dismissed because I took part in illegal duty. After my dismissal in 2014, I have no job, then I was linked to Millions who is in prison.
“He was the person that linked me to his cousin, Alfred, that they needed my coursemate and me to give them military cover.
“We went for the operation with our uniforms but we were unlucky the bullion van escaped from the scene. I also took part in the Akwa Ibom robbery the next day where I got N150,000 as my share but I was arrested while we were making plans to rob another bullion van in Asaba,” he stated.