Posted by by Rotimi Williams on
Enfant terrible: This kid-robber has killed a two-yr-old baby, three policemen and wrecked many lives
What could have led a 14-year old boy into crime? Perhaps peer influence? Lust? Want or adventure?
While his peers were in the classrooms or serving an apprenticeship, Idowu Kolawole was being recruited into the register of a gang of armed robbers. Prior to his alliance with the gang of robbers, Idowu, who claimed that his father died many years ago and his mother, who remarried, could not single-handedly fund his tuition, engaged in several menial jobs to survive. His intention, he claimed, was to acquire education, but his indigent background cut the dream short. He started apprenticeship as a vulcaniser.
At the workshop, he showed strong positive disposition towards his job and the determination to succeed at it. He was loved by many for his smartness. His admirers included one Idris (other names withheld), who used to tip him. Idris became his mentor of sorts, providing for his needs and wants. Utterly oblivious of Idris as a gangster, his friendship with him became an albatross around his neck. He was soon initiated into armed robbery.
Gradually, the hitherto innocent Idowu became venomous, maiming and killing his victims to dispossess them of their personal belongings. In a jiffy, Idowu was able to learn new skills. He became so ‘versatile’ and volatile that he earned the commendation of his comrades-in-crime. At every robbery operation he was involved in, he left the scene and victims with sorrow, tears and blood. He confessed that many of the armed robberies on the expressways in Ijebu-Ode, Oyo and Lagos States were executed by his gang.
On several occasions, he had swiped at policemen.
Recounting his deadly encounter with policemen on patrol, recently, when his gang was returning from an operation, Idowu, a deft shooter, said: “While returning with our loot on a road linking the express, we met a police patrol team. Thinking that they were there based on a tip off to arrest us, I opened fire on them, killing three instantly and seriously injuring another. I learnt that he also died later. We took their automatic rifles away. They never expected the attack. It was sudden. I did not give them any breathing space. The first one was hit on the head, the second received several shots on the chest and stomach. The third man, who was making efforts to respond, was instantly shot on the head.”
Eventually, Idowu became super rich, flaunting money here and there. He was loved for his sudden wealth and envied by his peers.
Among his recruits into the ‘business’ was his uncle, Adesina Olaitan, a former private security man. Adesina confessed that he failed to impact morals into Idowu and had gained not less than N800,000, since he joined the gang.
“It is true that I was supposed to have put Idowu on the right path because I am like his father, but I have failed in my duty as a parent,” lamented Adesina, who also confessed to have shot one of their victims and honed his skill at using the gun at the sports stadium and hotels in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
Idowu’s friend, Tajudeen Raman, a secondary school drop out, also 16 years old, claimed he was lured into armed robbery. “I was lured into armed robbery by my friend, Idowu. It was in the course of treating my sick mother. He, Idowu rendered help. If I had known, I would have distanced myself from him. Initially, I did not know he was into armed robbery. But after the first operation when they fired gunshots, I started suspecting. I did not know why I followed him for the second time.”
Another suspect, Lateef Awoyemi, a taxi driver, who claimed Adesina was his wife’s elder brother, while Idowu was her younger brother, denied the allegation that he was a member of the gang. Like the Yoruba adage, “everyday belongs to the thief, one day is for the owner,” Idowu and members of his gang were having it good, until the bubble burst. They were nabbed by the police after their last operation. Their victim was a businessman, who was attacked while returning from the bank in his Mercedes Benz car in Ijebu-Ode. The unfortunate businessman, who was reluctant to let go his money was, according to Idowu, shot in the chest before he gave up the ghost. Dare devil Idowu recalled: “The money was kept in the booth of the car. The chief did not want to release the key of the vehicle, so I shot him first by the shoulder and he promptly released the key. After getting hold of the money, we came to the chief who was bleeding. I decided to complete the job by killing him when he was behaving as if he wanted us to hand over the money to him. I shot him twice on the chest. I knew with that, he could not have survived it.”
The loot, an undisclosed amount of money, Idowu continued, was given to Idris to keep pending the time the bandits would meet and then, share it. But Idris was nowhere to be found. He has moved his family from his abode and at present, the police are on his trail and other suspects who took part in the operation.
Ogun State Police Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olusegun Efuntayo, expressed the determination of his command to apprehend the suspects. “It is a matter of time before we get them. We are already working on a clue, which I may not be able to tell you.”
I am from Igbagba, Imushin in Ijebu-Ode. My father is dead while my mother is in Lagos. I became vulcaniser after I left secondary school in 2003. My father died a day after I started serving an apprenticeship as a vulcaniser. I impregnated a school girl who was delivered of a child about a month ago. Both mother and child are staying in Degun, Ijebu-Ode. I started my primary school education in Lagos at Gbagada Primary School, before I left for Ijebu-Ode where I attended one of the secondary schools. I had to drop out when my parents could not pay my school fees. I would be at the vulcanising workshop in the morning and take to truck-pushing in the evening, just to make ends meet.
I also got myself involved in the slaughtering of cows for pay, especially, where there were social engagements or at the abbatoir. I got myself involved in so many menial jobs, including clearing the bush and also working on people’s farms. I was doing all these until something terrible happened in my life which eventually put me where I am today. If I had known, I would have concentrated more on my menial jobs and be proud of what I was doing. I would have been able to say that there was dignity in labour. My cup became full when I was arrested by police officers from the Obalende Police Station, Ijebu-Ode around 1.00 am in my house.
I never knew I could be easily arrested because we believed that we were above the law and that we were intelligent and clever. When I was arrested, the police accused me, that I had a questionable character. I denied their allegations until they started real investigations on my past deeds. When the police got the hint that I was an armed robber, because of my age and stature, they almost dismissed those serious allegations. They might not have believed that I could effectively handle weapons until they conducted thorough investigation and found out the truth.
Even when I was accused of being an armed robber, I still denied it. But I was probed to a level that I could not deny again. I told my interrogators that I only participated in one robbery operation, but they probed me further and got to know all my past deeds.
My last operation was funny because the loot was also stolen by a member of the gang who happened to be incharge of the group’s ammunition. We were still lamenting his conduct when I was arrested. The man we robbed was a prominent businessman and a high chief in the town who was just coming from the bank. The money was kept in a big polythene bag like the popular Ghana must go bag. And as usual, we asked the man in charge of ammunition to hold on to the big bag and bring it to our meeting point at an appointed time so that everybody could get his own share. But we did not see him. Several visits to his house showed that he had absconded with the bag of money. We killed the chief when he was struggling with us over the bag containing the money. We also shot two other persons in his car, including a small girl who should not be more than two years old. We later learnt that one of them died in the hospital. We made use of four rifles in the last operation.
The man who later bolted away with our money, we call him Idris (other names withheld), brought the rifles to a meeting point close to where the operation was to take place. We acted on information by Idris, who also got it from one of his boys he often sent out to gather information. We got to know that the chief was going for a business trip and that he would be visiting the bank. We also got information about the bank he was to visit. Many people know Idris as a native doctor and a prominent co-ordinator of night guards in Ijebu-Ode. But unknown to many, he was also overseeing close to three robbery gangs. He was holding security meetings concerning several communities and at the same time hosting armed robbers, strategising on plans to rob people, including some of those he was paid to protect. During the last operation before my arrest, I made use of the most powerful weapon among the four that we had. I actually shot the chief and the little girl in the vehicle. Some other person shot the third victim. The robbery took place at a road linking the Lagos-Ijebu-Ode-Benin Expressway.
We were used to all the roads in that area because we carried out most of our operations on the expressway and most of the link roads had served as escape routes. The chief, who was driving in his Mercedes Benz car, was trying to negotiate a bend after veering off the trunk road when we blocked him. He did not expect it because if he had wanted to escape, he would have done so by speeding off, because the blocking was not tight. But because of the fear in him, he had to stop. I shot two of the vehicles’ tyres to prevent any escape since he had made the mistake of stopping. The operation was brief. The money was kept in the car booth. The chief did not want to release the vehicle’s key, so, I shot him first at the shoulders and he promptly released the key. After getting hold of the money and I came back to meet the chief by the steering, bleeding, I decided to complete the job by killing him when he was fighting to get the money back from us. I shot him twice on the chest. I knew he could not survive it.
We quickly left the place in another vehicle, got to a place, alighted, concealed the rifles in a bag, handed it to another member of the gang with a directive to ensure that the bag was brought to the designated point where we were going to share the money. But Idris, who was holding the bag of money for safe-keeping, insisted that the rifles should be moved to his house for safety reasons. We did and moved the bag containing the rifles to Idris’ house since he was incharge. We did not know that he had a plan to escape with our loot. We were to meet at an uncompleted building around 10 pm. All others were there but we did not see Idris. The following morning, we got to his house only to find out that he had moved part of his personal effects out of the house, including his family. I cannot say precisely how much was contained in the bag but surely, it was a heavy amount.
To be candid, our gang carried out several robbery operations along the express road. I cannot say precisely the number. We got pretty good money, but just like something you never worked for, we spent money carelessly and on frivolities. I remembered a bloody operation that we carried out shortly before the last one. It was also along the Benin Express Road. We had successfully robbed our victims of a large chunk of money. In the operation, we had killed about four persons who did not want to cooperate.
But while returning with our loot on a road linking the express, we met a police patrol team. Thinking that they were there on a tip off to arrest us, I opened fire on them, killed three instantly, and seriously injured another. I learnt that the officer injured also died. We took their automatic rifles away. The policemen never expected the attack, it was sudden, I did not give them any breathing space. I opened fire immediately we saw them. The first one was hit on the head, the second received several shots on the chest and stomach. The third, who was making efforts to reply, was instantly shot on the head. It was when we got home that we made enquiries and discovered that the policemen were there on a routine patrol. But there were no regrets about the attack because it would have been dangerous to leave things for chance. They would have shot us if they had the upper hand.
Before you could graduate to our main gang, you would have undergone some specified training, especially in the handling of several brands of weapons. Like I told you, Idris was one of the heads of the guards in Ijebu-Ode; so, we hid under that cover to practise shooting in the bush. Most times, he would present us as security guards under his command. He, Idris, was also one of the security supervisors at the Ijebu-Ode sports stadium which also had a shooting range and close to four rifles.
So, we had adequate hideouts for practising. Whenever there was the purchase of new weapons, we often ensured that we undertook adequate manoeuvring sessions because while on operation, you are not allowed to make mistakes. Your colleague could kill you if you were becoming a stumbling block. So whatever weapon you are handling must be used with expertise, especially by the hit men, one of which I was.
I got into armed robbery when Idris lured me into this security job. We met at an eatery joint where he paid for my food. Shortly after, he invited me out and said he had been observing me for a while. He told me that he was going to assist me financially and also offered me a job as a security man at the stadium. Feeling that this could make me better financially, I accepted. But that was not to be as one thing led to the other and I became a prominent member of the gang.
I know I have participated in several robbery operations where people had been killed. I have lost count. I cannot say precisely the number of people that we had killed. Most of the instructions for the killings often came from Idris who often prepared us with juju before any operation. We believed much in the efficacy of juju because on a few occasions that we had been shot at, we escaped unscathed. But that did not stop the police from arresting us eventually. We had also robbed a couple of times in Oyo and Lagos States, depending on the information we got. We often worked on information. At a point, I started living alone. I stopped visiting family members so that nobody would question me about my new appearance or what I was doing. So, there was nobody to check me. Other gang members had a lot of influence over me.
At a point when a gang member died mysteriously, I decided to quit because I was afraid that the same punishment awaited everybody. But I was prevailed upon by the ‘big boys’ in the group to carry on. I also recruited four other young boys into the group. Two of them are with me in the police detention right now. They were my childhood friends. The four boys that I recruited also came from poor families, terrible backgrounds. So, it was easy for me to co-opt them into the gang.
Unfortunately, for two of them, they had just participated in two robbery operations as men keeping surveillance. You know, if you are new in the gang, you must first go through some kind of assignments like keeping watch at the scene of operation in case there is danger or police presence. You are to alert others. I found myself on the wrong side while trying to fend for myself. It is unfortunate. I was not supposed to go into crime in the first instance. But I went into it, and I am now paying for it in a hard way. It may cost me my life. The big boys in the gang made me feel that crime was the right way of life.
I was always encouraged by others whenever I was on a shooting spree. We were about ten members of the robbery gang. Apart from Idris, there was also another security man in the gang who happened to be my elder brother. I brought him into the gang. I introduced him to Idris, who worked on him and eventually succeeded in recruiting him.
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