A 24-year-old suspect, Moses Opeyemi, who was arrested by officers of the Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed Amotekun, Oyo State, as he wanted to sell a stolen car, has said that he brought the vehicle to Ibadan to cover his tracks, not knowing he would be caught.
Opeyemi, a mechanic at Ketu area of Lagos State, and one other suspect, Wasiu Raheem, were apprehended for allegedly stealing a Toyota Corolla car with registration number KSF 539 GA.
SOJ Correspondent gathered that Opeyemi was the one who drove the car from Lagos in the early hours of last Wednesday, in company with Raheem. They planned to dismantle it so they could sell the parts, thereby rendering it untraceable.
However, as negotiation was still ongoing, he and his friend were rounded up by Amotekun Corps.
Explaining how the suspects were apprehended, the second-in-command to the commandant of Amotekun, Mr Kazeem Babalola Akinro, told SOJ Correspondent that there had been challenges over car theft, which made the Corps to adopt intelligence-based means to fish out the offenders.
“Having noted the places such incidents were usually discovered, we became very watchful. Immediately we got wind of a blue Toyota Corolla brought to Ibadan for sale, we went to the place where the transaction was about to take place.
“On getting there, we saw the two suspects who came with the car. When interrogated on why such a functional car would be dismantled and sold in pieces, they confessed to have stolen it in the automobile workshop where one of the suspects, Opeyemi, was a mechanic.
“Opeyemi disclosed that his partner in the workshop, one Wisdom Blessing, had wanted to sell the car, but he stole it and brought it to Ibadan for sale so that he could get the sale proceed to himself without being discovered.
“We searched the car, found its documents and called the owner’s number written on them. The owner picked it and confirmed that the car was stolen, and that he had even gone to Alapere Division in Lagos to report.”
He disclosed that the suspects and the recovered car would be handed over to the police in Lagos for further investigation.
Narrating his experience over the missing car which was recovered by Amotekun before its sale, he car owner, Blessing, aged 26, said that it is still a shock to him that someone whom he used give some jobs to with good remuneration could do such a thing to him.
ACCORDING TO HIM,
“Opeyemi and I work in the same premises where we have our garage. He is a mechanic while I deal with wiring. On Tuesday last week, we all closed from duty, and he told us that he would not be available at work the following day. On Wednesday, I got to the workshop but could not find my car parked there.
“I recalled how he told me on Tuesday that he lost my phone which I gave him to ease communication between him and the alternator repairer I sent him to. I didn’t know he had an ulterior motive. That was how he picked my car key from where I used to keep it in our workshop anytime I have cause to return a customer’s car after repairs.
“The rest of us at the workshop started looking for my car. We first went to Alapere police station to report the stolen car before we decided to go to Opeyemi’s house in Ikorodu but we didn’t meet him at home. His neighbours told us that he was last seen about two months before then.
“We were still on this when Amotekun Corps from Ibadan called my brother and told him Opeyemi had been arrested as he was trying to disassemble my car and sell it in parts.
“I felt betrayed with what the suspect did, with the way we were working together and relating closely.”
In an interview, Opeyemi, from Kabba, Kogi State, told his story thus: “I brought the car of my friend to Ibadan to sell it. He had posted ‘for sale’ on it, but I didn’t tell him. I intended to personally use the proceeds of the sale.
“I knew I could get a buyer at spare parts area in Ibadan, and that was why I brought it there. Though the car was worth N1.5 million, I wanted to sell it for N900,000 which was the price the intending buyer offered.”
When asked why he was not found at his residence where he told his colleagues that he would be, in addition to what his co-tenants said about his not being seen in the past two months, the suspect said that he had two rented apartments and was using the other one.
He confirmed that he got the car key from where it was kept, admitting that he stole it.
He pleaded with the government for mercy, saying that he had never done such a thing and would never do it again.
The second suspect, Raheem, aged 39, however said that Opeyemi did not tell him that the car was stolen, as he only said that the vehicle was given to him by one of his customers to help sell it.
“I’m a carpenter. I knew Opeyemi through his elder brother who is my friend. I didn’t know that he stole the vehicle. Early on Wednesday, I went to the mosque to pray. On my way out, I saw him and we exchanged greetings. Then he told me that the car he was in belonged to one of his customers who asked him to help sell it. I didn’t doubt him because I saw the inscription ‘for sale’ posted at the front and back of the car.
“He told me he was taking it to Ibadan to sell. I asked him why he could not do it in Lagos and he replied that the prices being offered by intending buyers were not good. He said that someone described a place to him in Ibadan where he could get a good bargain. He said further that he needed someone to keep him company to Ibadan, asking me to go with him. He promised to give me out of whatever the owner of the car would give him after its sale.
“With his promise that we would back to Lagos latest by 12noon, He told me that he had the car documents and we left Lagos at about 6:20am. When we got to Ibadan, I asked for the place we would see the prospective buyer, and he replied that the person’s place in the market had been described for him. He however said he would go for another buyer if he couldn’t locate the person he targeted.
“As we got there, he saw a man who offered N1.6 million, but the person told him that the intending buyer was not around. After that, Opeyemi took me to a place where vehicles are dismantled. He showed them the car and they offered between N800,000 and N900,000. I was angry with such pricing and I told Opeyemi to take it back to the owner. He told me he could not take it back to Lagos without selling it. We were on that when Amotekun officers came. I didn’t know he stole the car. I didn’t know I would get into such trouble. I was only after sharing whatever the owner would give him after the sale. Opeyemi deceived me.”