Four suspected armed robbers who were alleged to be members of a gang who broke into a branch of an old generation bank in Ilututu area of Ondo State, on Christmas eve, have said that they were shocked when they opened the bank’s vault and discovered that it was empty.
The suspects identified as Ebibo Winoh, Michael Mipera, Thankgod Sugha and Idowu Sobijoh, who were rounded up last weekend, by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (SIRT) in Ondo State, were said to have broken into the bank through the aid of a security guard, who had worked with the bank.
It was gathered that the guard, who was sacked last year, was said to have approached a member of the gang, Michael Mipera, a native of Ajapa in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State, with the idea of robbing the bank, as there was less security around the bank at night. Police investigation disclosed that Mipera, after conducting his own survey around the bank, invited two of his friends, Thankgod Sugha and Ebibo Winoh, from his hometown to Ilututu and rented an apartment for them.
He was also said to have invited six militants based at a camp in Ijegemo-Isheri Oshun, Lagos State, headed by one TK, a notorious of pipeline vandal and bank robber. Their other members from Lagos, which was led by one Bright, was said to have supplied the gang with two AK 47 rifles and additional expertise on how to break into bank.
At the police station during interrogation, the suspected leader of the gang, Micheal said that they monitored the bank for weeks before the struck.
“After the bank’s former security man gave us information, we rented a room close to the police station in the community. We found a petty job, as a form of distraction while we monitored the activities of the police and that of the bank. We discovered that at night, there is no private security official or policeman guarding the bank. We also discovered that the police station was not active and cannot easily withstand us if we are heavily armed.
As soon as the experts from Ikorodu arrived, we agreed to strike on Christmas eve because everyone is supposed to be busy preparing for Christmas.
“We entered the bank easily and broke into the vault. We got the shock of our lives when we discovered that it was empty. It was when we understood why there was no security man in the bank. Our matter got worse when we were arrested the next day by policemen. I am begging for mercy because we did not succeed. There is no money to return rather we are looking for how to raise money to pay back those we hired from Lagos.
The militant among the gang, Sobijoh claimed that he had never participated in robbery but was lured into it after their pipeline operation was disrupted by soldiers at Ijegemo in Ogun State. According to him,
“I have never got myself involved in any bank robbery before, this was my first attempt and it wasn’t completely my intention. It was some soldiers who stopped our operation at Ijegemo that forced me into it. The soldiers were demanding that we pay them N5million before we will resume operation. We offered them N3million but they refused. Life became so difficult without money and we needed to survive. Luckily, Bright got a call from Mipera about the Ilututu bank operation and he mobilized six of us to go for the operation. I didn’t get to Ilututu on time because I had to travel down to Ondo from Lagos. I was informed that the operation was successful but they didn’t get any money from the bank. Unfortunately, I was arrested on my way back to my village in Ajapa,” he narrated.