Four armed robbery suspects identified as Onyenge Osanie, Azuka Eboh, Ezelonwu Michael and Afolabi Shakiru, all pictured above who were arrested by officers of the Lagos state Police state command for looting shops and stealing from some phone dealers at the Alaba International Market in Lagos on December 20th, told the police that they did not steal from the traders but only collected their dues as the phone dealers failed to settle them after they supplied them with stolen phones.
According to Punch, the ten-man gang, with other members still at large, raided mostly shops of phone dealers, stealing 70 smartphones and Ipads which were worth about N1.5m.
“We usually work with phone dealers in the market who specialise in selling stolen phones. When we steal, they sell, and they then settle us. But later on, some of them defaulted, and we attacked their shops. It was not as if we robbed them, we only came to ask for our money. On that day, we had taken only 10 phones before the police apprehended us. I had initially escaped, but two gang members who were caught at the scene later brought the police to arrest me.” he said
Another gang member, 27-year-old Eboh said he joined the gang because of his unemployment status “What we learnt initially was that a market chairman was coming to give out money but he later failed to show up. That was when we decided to deal with the traders. When we got to the shops, we broke their glasses and carted away expensive phones. I joined the gang because I did not have a job. I have been living in hardship with my family.”he said
“I was working as a truck driver before I met them. I had gone out with the gang on three occasions to rob in the market. We only took advantage of the commotion of the market to rob them. It was not deliberate,” he said.
Police Public Relations officer, DSP Kenneth Nwosu while confirming their arrest, said investigation is going on the matter.