Confusion enveloped the Car Wash area of Egbeda, Lagos State, yesterday as armed policemen and angry crowd chased a suspected thief through moving traffic, causing gridlock.
The fleeing suspect was said to be part of six men who collected an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card from an 18-year-old boy at the Gowon Estate area of the metropolis, after he withdrew N10,000 from his elder brother’s account.
The suspects allegedly used the ATM to shop at Domino. The fleeing suspect would have been lynched by the angry mob, but for the quick intervention of operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS). As the suspect was running for his life, he sighted the RRS men in their vehicle in traffic. He flung open their door and jumped in. This halted the action of the crowd and an armed policeman chasing him on a motorbike. After driving for a while, the RRS men stopped and handed him over to the policeman, who had continued to tail them.
The suspect was dragged to Domino Shopping Mall, where two of his members were held and beaten. According to report, the suspect and five of his gang members saw the teenage boy at the ATM gallery and talked him into releasing the N10,000 with him and his elder brother’s ATM card.
They allegedly forced him to tell them the ATM Personal Identification Number (PIN). Thereafter, they allegedly locked the boy in a yet-to-be-disclosed location and went on a shopping spree. After shopping at Iyano- Ipaja area, the six of them went to the Domino Shopping Mall, where each picked the largest sized basket. It was when they started paying for the goods that the owner of the ATM card started receiving a series debit alerts. The alert was coming from the popular Domino Shopping Mall. He chartered a motorbike and raced to the place. He raised the alarm.
The police at the scene were alerted and moved into the mall. The thieves, suspecting police were after them, scampered in different directions. One of them was chased through moving traffic before his eventual arrest. Witnesses said three were arrested, while three escaped. Passers-by and customers were said to have given the two suspects the beaten of their lives before the arrival of the police with their fleeing colleague.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Chike Oti, said the suspects were already in police custody. Oti disclosed that the suspects would have escaped, if not for the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi’s standing instructions to all police stations that communities should be patrolled 24 hours, especially shopping malls and recreational centres.
“We have a standing order from the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, that every station should be at alert and all communities, eateries, malls and relaxation centres should be especially monitored. When the suspects attempted to escape, policemen were not too far. Our policemen chased one of the suspects through moving traffic and arrested him.
“The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) also raced to the scene with his men, leading to further arrest of two others. The DPO and his men also saved the two suspects from being lynched.” Recounting how the suspects hoodwinked the teenager into parting with his elder brother’s ATM Card, Oti said: “The young boy was not abducted or locked up as people claimed. He is just an 18-year-old boy. His elder brother sent him to go and withdraw N10,000 for him at the ATM. He had already withdrawn the money before the suspects accosted and brainwashed him, after introducing themselves as spiritual men.
They brainwashed him and collected the N10,000 from him and the ATM card. They gave him money from the N10,000 to go and buy salt for some spiritual works, which they wanted to do for him. Immediately he left, they went on a shopping spree.
It was while they were shopping that the elder brother received series of debit alerts and became alarmed. He raced to the shopping mall and approached the manager. The DPO was alerted. We thank God for the vision and strategy of our CP.”