Sunday, 15 October 2017

Chairman: I used proceeds from car thefts for election campaign

Chairman of Celenca Community landlord association, located along Badagry expressway, Lagos State, has been arrested for stealing and snatching cars.

The suspect, Mr Daniel Egwe 42, told operatives of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Intelligence Response Team (IRT) that he went into crime after some top Nigeria Customs officers defrauded him over N4million.
His words: “Yes, I went into crime after some Customs officers swindled N4m. I borrowed most of the money they stole and I needed to repay my creditors. I also joined crime because I had been dreaming and yearning to become chairman of the landlord association in our community. I needed money for that.”

Egwe further said that it was not easy to become the chairman of the landlords association in his community. It entails a lot of hard work and money.
His words: “You have to lobby other landlords to vote for you. This included doling out money. I spent money on those landlords that voted for me.”

When operatives stormed the community to arrest Egwe, members of the community wouldn’t allow them to take him. They told the operatives that Egwe was too pious and honest to be a robber. They said it could be a case of mistaken identity.

Police alleged that he had used proceeds from crime to build houses in the community.
Speaking with journalists, Egwe confessed to have stolen from several victims and collected their cars, he, however, denied ever stealing cars of his community members.
Egwe was arrested along with Bademosi Adebayo and Nnamdi Ariwodo. Adebayo and Ariwodo were picked from different locations within the state.

Egwe and his men met their waterloo after it was discovered that police were receiving series of car snatching and stealing complaints around communities in Badagry. It was gathered that the operatives went undercover and embarked on investigations. Months of painstaking investigations led them to Egwe.

A police source said: “We traced him to the community where he resides. Members of the community, who insisted he couldn’t be the suspected criminal we were looking for, attempted to stop us from arresting him. The community members insisted that the wanted suspect could never be their own Daniel Egwe.”

Egwe had been presenting himself to the community members as a responsible businessman and had repeatedly fought and achieved the progress of the community.
The police source added: “According to the community members, the suspect had contributed immensely to reduction of crime in the community. He single handedly, hired security guards to be watching the community. He hired guards to keep out armed robbers from the community, while he is also an armed robber.”

Egwe said: “I have stolen many cars, but never those that belonged to members of my community.
 “I’m the chairman of the landlord association and my community members respected me a lot. When I won the election, I promised to guarantee security of lives and properties. Whatever crimes I committed, affected other areas of Lagos State, not my community.”
He explained that he wouldn’t have gone into crime, but for the sheer wickedness of some Customs officers, who defrauded him.

He said: “It was those Customs officers that made me to join crime. I was initially into importing and exporting of cars from Germany. I made a lot of money; I bought and built houses in Lagos, especially in my community. I also got married. Unfortunately, two years ago, I was swindled by Custom officials.”

Recollecting how he was hoodwinked, Egwe explained that he paid for a container, which he believed to be filled with cars. He said that the Customs men assured him that the container was filled with big cars and other valuable products. The container was supposed to be one of those seized by the Nigeria Customs.

Egwe recounted: “The Customs men repeatedly assured me that I would find big cars inside the container; that I should quickly go, to pay. I knew how these things work, so I paid N1.8m. They even gave me a receipt. I then used N2.2m to settle the officials so that I would be given a special treatment.

“It was also from the N2.2m that I paid for clearance at Ikorodu which is their depot. After spending more than N4m, I discovered that the container was full of junks and two cars; a 1999 Nissan quest and a pathfinder. Both cars couldn’t give me up to N1m when sold. I was devastated and also in debts. I had to borrow some money in order to be able to raise the N4m for the container and ‘settlement’.

“This was how I lost everything. As a man, I still needed to care for my family. Above all, I’m a well-respected person in the estate. I wanted to contest as the chairman landlord association of the estate. 

“This was how it became easy for me to go into crime. I normally used to visit the Apapa Port to seek for menial jobs. I met Bademosi at port; he was also in need of money. We learnt how to break into cars and decided to work as a team.”
Asked to disclose his modus operandi, Egwe said that he and his gang members operated with what he describes as “magic keys.”  

He revealed that the magic keys could open any car, especially those that didn’t have security gadgets. The magic keys were hewed out of screw drivers, said Egwe.
According to him, if they were working on a car, with the plan to steal it, and the alarm triggered off, they would quickly walk away, like they didn’t know what was going on.
Revealing places they used to go to steal, Egwe said: “We target event centers and shopping malls. In those places, we discovered that people used to park and leave valuables in their cars. To avoid arrest, we concentrated more on stealing valuables inside cars, than always stealing the cars.”

One of his gang members, Bademosi, said he embraced crime out of frustration. This was even as he denied being an armed robber. He insisted that his only crime was in breaking and entering people’s cars to steal valuables.

He said: “There’s a big difference between robbery and stealing. I’m simply a thief, not an armed robber. My only weapon is this magic key. I used to be a dock worker at Apapa Port, but two years ago, the company that I was working for shut down. I needed to fend for my family, not give excuses. I started going to the port to hang around and see if anyone could hire me.  It was in that process that I met Egwe. He showed me the way out. We don’t snatch the cars; we only open parked cars and steal things kept inside.”

Bademosi, who resides at Isheri, confessed that the first time he committed such a crime was at Fela’s shrine. He recalled that there was an event there on that fateful day.
He sighted a Honda car and made a beeline for it. He brought out his magic key and inserted it into the car’s keyhole. It clicked and opened. He found N180, 000 inside a bag left in the car.

He said: “Our highest haul was at Gbagada, close to where rams are sold. It was during a Moslem festival and a lot of rich men came to buy rams. We posed as if we came to buy rams. We watched people coming and going. As soon as we got a target, I would watch out for the owner to be sure that he or she was not returning too soon to the car. Egwe would pretend as if the targeted car was his.  Timing was very essential and important because we wouldn’t want passersby to suspect us. On that day, we found N280, 000 in a car.”

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