Members of a gang, which specialised in stealing and diverting goods from the Tin-Can Island Port in Lagos have been apprehended by the police.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the suspects – Onyebuchi Okeke, Sopuruchukwu Eze, Sunday Chukwuwike, Sunday Nwachukwu and Onyebuchi Edeh – were arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team after they stole and sold off a 40-foot container containing 600 generators.
According to the IRT, they sold off the Elemaxbrand generators valued at N50m for N440,000. A source said the head of the gang, Okeke, worked for a haulage company in Ago-Okota, Lagos.
He allegedly operated by taking his truck to the Lagos seaport in search of a customer who had goods to transport.
Once he was contracted to transport any shipment, the police said he diverted and sold it off for a fraction of the value.
The source said he had been on the police wanted list for a long time as a result of his activities.
The owner of the diverted generators had reportedly approached the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, after he discovered that his goods were missing.
Our correspondent was told that the IRT, led by Abba Kyari, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, was tasked with tracking down the suspects and the goods.
The team later traced the shipment to Ontisha, Anambra State, where some of the generators were sold.
Through the receiver of the goods, Eze, who was arrested in Onitsha, the IRT was able to arrest all the members of the gang. A large number of the generators were said to have been recovered in Ikorodu area of Lagos.
Thirty-year-old Okeke, a native of Nankain, Anambra State, told journalists after his arrest that because he was paid in commission in the haulage company where he worked, he decided he could make quick money by diverting shipments.
He said, “I was employed in December 2017 and since then, I had only transported goods five times before I was arrested.
“The same month I was arrested, the manager of the company told me to take the container-load of generators to Alaba International Market in Ojo, Lagos State. I immediately contacted one of my customers known as Ozor and told him that I had some goods to sell.
“He connected me to someone known as Sunday, who also connected me to his brother known as Supuro.
“After our negotiation, Supuro asked us to take the goods to a house in Ikorodu. He then offered to pay us N9.7m, but he gave us an advance payment of N440,000 on December 23, 2017.
“We shared the money and used it to celebrate Christmas. We were expecting the balance on the first week of January 2018. When I called Supuro to ask when I could get the money, he asked me to come meet him at Onitsha, but when I got to Asaba, I was arrested by the IRT.”
Eze, who is also 30 years old, claimed not to know where Okeke got the generators from but claimed that he paid more than N440,000 for the generators.
He said, “I was told that the brother of the driver was the one who imported the generators and wanted to sell them cheaply.
“I gave them (Okeke and his gang members) an advance payment of N530,000. I also sold 30 generators to one Onuora for N1.2m. I then took some of the generators to Onitsha to look for buyers. That was where I was arrested.”
The police have said the suspects would be charged to court as soon as investigation on the case was complete.