Two dismissed personnel of the Nigerian Navy who were released from prison on bail after three years have been arrested by the Abia State Police Command over the snatching of a Lexus RX 300 SUV.
Disclosing this during a press briefing in Umuahia, the state capital, the Abia State Commissioner of Police, Leye Oyebade, gave the names of the two dismissed officers and the third suspect as Ibrahim Maza (32), Okoro Vincent (36) and Ikenna Ogbonna (33) respectively.
Twenty five other suspects arrested in connection with different crimes, including armed robbery, kidnapping, burglary and car snatching were also paraded during the press briefing.
According to Oyebade, the vehicle, valued at N2.5 million, was snatched from its owner, one Kingsley (surname withheld) on Sunday, August 6 on Obohia road, Aba at about 9:00p.m., by four armed men.
“After we were alerted of the incident, a team of patrol men attached to Central Police Station, Aba began tracking the vehicle, and on August 7, three of the suspects were arrested in Enugu State while the fourth suspect escaped.
“The snatched vehicle and two of the victim’s mobile phones were also recovered from them,” the police commissioner said.
Oyebade further disclosed that Ibrahim and Okoro were dismissed Naval officers who were recently released from prison on bail after spending three years as inmates. He added that efforts were in top gear to arrest other members of the gang.
In an interview with Saturday Tribune, one of the suspects, Ikenna said it was one Uchenna who introduced him to car snatching.
“When Uchenna called me and spoke about snatching cars, I told Ibrahim, who also informed his friend, Okoro. That was how we formed the gang. Uchenna actually didn’t tell me we were going to snatch a car, he just said he had a business.
“We were in a public transport when he finally told me about the operation. We were four, so the owner was scared, and that was how we snatched the vehicle from him. After we took the vehicle from him, we drove him with us for a while before we dropped him.
“We were arrested in Enugu the following morning. We took the vehicle to Enugu because Uchenna said he had someone who would buy the car from us there.
“We wanted to sell the vehicle for N800, 000. Uchenna was discussing the sale of the vehicle with the buyer on phone. The buyer said he was ready to pay N800, 000 for it. However, when we were apprehended, Uchenna escaped. It was only me, Ibrahim and Okoro who were arrested.
One of the dismissed naval officers, Ibrahim, also told Nigerian Tribune that he was a naval officer before his dismissal in 2014. According to Ibrahim, “in December 2014, we were sent on outside duty to arrest some oil bunkerers in the creeks.
“After the arrest, our leader asked us to collect money from them and release them. I was serving in Port Harcourt then. I was given N1.2 million as my share. We were eight who went on duty.
“However, the naval authorities got to know and we were tried. We were sentenced to seven years imprisonment, but we went on appeal, and the appeal court granted us bail in July. Okoro was also one of us who went for that operation and we were in prison together. I was in Port Harcourt prison before I was transferred to Aba prison.
“Before I was released, Ikenna came to Aba prison to see someone and he saw me in the visitors’ room. He got my contact and when I was released, he started calling me that he had an escort work for me to do for him. But he didn’t tell me the kind of work it was.
I called Okoro and explained to him, because he was my superior when we were in the navy. I gave him Ikenna’s number and they spoke. One Friday, Ikenna called me when I was Port Harcourt. They had already snatched the vehicle by the time I got there. There were four people in the vehicle, but they later dropped two people.
“After Okoro and I joined them, we went to Enugu. On getting there, Uchenna told us to wait, saying that he wanted to see the woman who would buy the vehicle. When we met the woman, Uchenna told her to ‘settle’ me and Okoro as we were the one who escorted the vehicle down to Enugu.
“The woman then said we should wait till 12:00noon, but on our way from the woman’s house, we were arrested by the police. I never knew that the car was snatched. I was promised N50, 000 for the escort job.”