Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Lagos police command, Ikeja, have nabbed a two-man gang whose speciality is to receive and sell stolen cars from armed robbers. The suspects, Lateef Ogunleye, 35 and Gbenga Olatunji, 45, were flushed out from their hideout after 10 years in the underworld.
Their modus operandi is to buy stolen cars, change the colour and perfect the documentation before moving them to the North to sell. After their arrest, they led the police to recover some of the cars that were sold within and outside Lagos.
Saturday Sun learnt that the suspects were declared wanted after it was discovered that their names were mentioned by most of the armed robbers arrested by the police in Lagos. Both suspects got wind of the bounty on their head and fled. Olatunji fled to Kano and Ogunleye to South Africa. Unknown to the suspects, detectives led by Officer in Charge of SARS, SP Abba Kyari kept tabs on them till they were finally arrested.
At the police station, the first suspect, Ogunleye, who claimed that he started the illegal business sometime in 2012, decided to secure a visa to South Africa in case anything goes wrong.
“I made so much money and I knew it was illegal, so I was advised to get a visa in case I was wanted by the police. In 2013, I relocated to South Africa when I learnt that my main supplier Ismali was in SARS detention. It will be risky to stay in Nigeria because they were tracking and arresting people anyhow.
“Since I had enough money, I travelled and got admission to study Electrical Engineering in Ressuct College in Pretoria, South Africa. I mobilised one of my boys to keep tabs on what is happening in SARS. I wanted to know if they were after me and when they had stopped. Few months after I arrived, Daniel called that OC SARS; Abba Kyari was on his way to South Africa to find me. I was terrified and ran to Shoshangove, an area that is not developed. Everywhere in Pretoria, there is camera and I can be easily tracked. I stayed there for two weeks till I got another signal from Daniel that Kyari was back to Nigeria. He told me that I was not the reason he came to South Africa rather he visited the country to receive an award.This was when I returned to school”, Ogunleye narrated. Relieved, Ogunleye decided to return home.
“I came back in October 2014 because I was running out of cash and my contacts have called severally that there are cars to be sold. Unfortunately, the first deal I did landed me in SARS detention. It’s like I was under a spell. I had all the opportunity to repent and remain in South Africa but the devil kept pushing me to come home,” he lamented.He claimed that it was his quest to make progress in life that landed him in trouble.
“After my graduation from Ibadan polytechnic, I moved down to Lagos in search of a job. It was not easy; all the banks to which I applied for a job, gave preference for women. I was introduced by a friend to start selling phones in computer village, Ikeja. Sometime in 2012, I met one Ismail who told me that there was a better and faster way of making money than standing under the sun selling phones. “He told me the truth that those cars were stolen and would be sold at half the market value.Initially, I thought it was a joke, till he brought Toyota Camry 2000 at the price of N250,000. I sold it for N500,000 that was quick money.
This was how I went into it full time for the past three years and so far I have received and sold several cars including a Toyota Highlander.” According to him, the market value of the Toyota Highlander was N4 million but the robbers sold it to him for N900,000. “I later sold the car N2.8 million. I had so much money and decided to secure visa to some countries. I did that when I learnt that most of my suppliers have been arrested and they mentioned my name”, he added. The second suspect, Olatunji said he decided to patronize car snatchers when Customs officials seized his cars in 2006. According to him: “I know that it is a crime to smuggle in cars from another country.
It was the only way one can make gain in this business. Unfortunately, I lost N5million in the process. So far, I have also received several cars including a Toyota Avenza, which they sold to me for N2 million and I sold it to the buyer for N4 milion. I discovered that cars can be easily sold in the North, which is why most of my cars were sold there. “I met Ibrahim who gave me a way out and since then business has been good, till I was arrested. When I heard that the robbers had been arrested, I quickly moved over to Kano. I still find it hard to believe that they traced me down there. I’m sorry.”