I embraced armed robbery after my husband abandoned me and gave me N1,000 –Angel
By Juliana Francis
●‘I once robbed my gang members of their shares after an operation’
Apart from being a woman who is believed to be very compassionate, Precious Okoye is by her nickname, known as Angel but as a vicious armed robber, she has lived thus far as the very contradiction of those norms. She, however, will be the first to tell you that embracing robbery was never her intention but she has to take care of her children. According to her, she had a husband once but one day, the man just packed his luggage and left for Lagos State, leaving her and the children with a paltry N,1000. With the burden of taking care of the children then resting on her slender 25-yearold shoulders, Okoye became desperate. And as it is said, desperate situations calls for desperate measures except that there is no ounce of positivity in her own turn.
Angel had not only gone for robbery operations, she has, according to her, even gone as far as cheating her partners in crime of their share of the loot they robbed, thereby keeping everything for herself. “I used to sell drugs at Rossrous Hotel. I have three children. One day, my husband left us with N1,000 and went to Lagos State.
I met Emeka and he promised to introduce me to a business. Emeka knew I was poor and I ended up following them to a robbery operation. I followed them to a house at Bolingo Road in Igurita. We stole household items like generator, stabilizer, Home Theatre, Plasma TV and Gotv decoder. The gang sold the Plasma TV for N20,000 and the DVD for N2,000.
I was given N500 as my share of the money. After we went for the second operation, I asked Emeka to allow me keep the things we stole for the gang and he agreed. But I later took them all and refused to give them anything, Emeka fought with me but I didn’t listen to him,” she said. Among the gang members working with Okoye is a 22-year-old named Oliver Nwokocha. He was arrested for shooting a professional golfer during a robbery operation. Nwokocha admitted he shot the victim, identified as Usman Zabadi, but while narrating the scenario surrounding the incident, said he did it in anger. “We went to another house. The man in that house ran into the kitchen and I followed him. He hit me with a gas cylinder and poured hot pot of soup on me. I got angry and shot him. I didn’t know he died,” Nwokocha said of his victim.
Being a member of a seven-man gang of robbers including Angel, Nwokocha was arrested along with six other suspects, Junior Nmeni, Emeka Iwuayawu, Victor Nwabusis, Sunny Nweke and Ezekiel Ishaya and Angel. The gang allegedly specialised in breaking and entering people’s homes at night. One of the most harrowing acts of the gang was abducting a 13-year-old girl during one of their robbery operations, raping her and still went ahead to collect ransom from her family before releasing her. The suspects were arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
The gang’s waterloo started after they killed Zabadi in his house on Poultry Road, Rukpokwu in Port Harcourt.After killing him, they carted away items like television sets, two mobile phones and an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) Card. So vicious was Nwokocha in the operation that he was said to have sprayed Zabadi’s face with bullets, leading to his death. According to the police, Nwokocha, armed with an Automatic Pump Action Gun, opened fire after the deceased poured hot soup on him. “The gang went on to rob several other homes around Iguruta and Upper- Deck areas of Port-Harcourt, Rivers State where they dispossessed victims of cash and other valuables.
The gang also kidnapped and raped a 13-year-old girl during one of their operations and a ransom of N200,000 was paid before she was released to her family,” a police source said. Trouble dogged the gang members’ footsteps following series of petitions directed to the IGP, Ibrahim Idris, by many of their various victims. In response, a team of operatives led by a Superintendent of Police (SP), Martins, was deployed to Rivers State and the team trailed the suspects through late Zabadi’s wife’s ATM card which the suspects had been using to withdraw money. “Images generated from the ATM transactions were distributed among police informants around Iguruta area of Port-Harcourt.
One of the informants identified Oliver Nwokocha. The suspect confessed to the crime during interrogat i o n s . H e also assisted police to catch o t h e r m e m – bers of the gang,” the police source said further.Like every suspect, Nwokocha has his own story as well. “I went into crime in January this year. That was after my uncle was killed by some people in my community. The people that killed him wanted to take over our land and the killing of my uncle sparked a community fight. I went to my friend, Junior, who has an Automatic Pump Action Gun. I used it in the fight. One day, Emeka told me that Junior wanted us to go for a robbery operation. I took the gun to Emeka and we met at Iguruta where Emeka and two others; Ifeanyi, and Victor, took me to a house in Rukpokwu.
While we were breaking into the house, the people in the building started shouting ‘Jesus! Jesus!’” Exasperated with the screaming, the gang left that house and went to the next, which turned out to be Zabadi’s apartment. It was there that Zabadi attacked Nwokocha and in the process, met his untimely death. Nwokocha recalled further: “It was after I was arrested that the police told me that the man I shot died. After that operation, I collected one phone and sold it to someone. Emeka took one of the television sets to his place. I had no intention of killing that man,” he stated, as if that is enough to revive his late victim. Junior Nmeni, 28, who is believed by the police to be the owner of one of the guns used by the gang, claimed that he was lured into robbery after he lost his job and couldn’t take care of his pregnant wife.
“I was formerly a cleaner at the Port Harcourt International Airport where I earned N18,000. I joined the gang seven months ago because the company I worked sacked me and things became very hard for my wife and I. There was a gun that belonged to my late elder brother, I found the gun inside his ceiling. I gave the gun to Oliver, who used it to rob and later killed somebody. When he returned the gun, he told me what he had done and I decided to join him. We robbed a man and a woman at Iguruta. I kidnapped and raped the woman’s sister. I kept the girl in my house for two days before Emeka and I started demanding a ransom. The woman paid us N200,000, and I got N23,000 as my share.
The next operation was at a hotel and we went with two guns. “Elvis, a gang member, brought the second gun. It was Sunny, another gang member that brought information about the hotel. We got N21,000 from the hotel and three phones. My last operation was at the home of Mr. Ogundun. Elvis was the person that brought the job but on the day we went to the house, we didn’t succeed because the man had a gun and shot at Oliver.
I haven’t made much money from the armed robbery business before I was arrested. I was hoping to raise enough money from the business which I intended to use for my pregnant wife’s delivery,” Junior concluded. On his own, a 24-year-old primary school dropout named Iwuayawu, said: “My late father was a native doctor and he didn’t bury his mother, who is also my grandmother, before he died. My father drove me out of the house when my mother, who is from Kogi State, left him. I went to Port-Harcourt to look for job. When I couldn’t find any job, I went into a bush at Unmuji Farm Road where I started selling Indian hemp. My father fell sick and died, leaving me with the burden of burying him and my grandmother.
I had no money to take my father’s corpse to the mortuary. I discovered that he sold all our landed properties before he died. While I was on this, I had a fight with a man at St. Anthony’s Church in Upper-Deck Area of Port-Harcourt. I was arrested and taken to prison where I spent six months. When I came out of prison, I joined a friend, Ifeanyi, who I met in prison. We started snatching people’s bags.
“I made some money from those robbery operations. I used the money to bury my grandmother. I then joined Ifeanyi to carry out more robberies hoping to raise more money, with which to bury my father. Ifeanyi took me and two others to a house at night. When we entered the house, we heard a woman praying and shouting ‘Jesus’. We left that house and broke into another man’s house. We fired a shot and collected TV sets and phones. I was given one of the TV sets which I gave to Okoye. Okoye is a woman, who sells Indian help at Rossons area of Port-Harcourt. She told me she has three children and her husband had abandoned her. She went on two other robbery operations with us, where we gave her all the money we made and the items we looted.”