Thirty-two-year-old Francis Okonkwo was sobbing as he narrated how he escaped death and landed in police custody.“I am happy that at least, the police arrested me; if not because of the police, I would be dead by now. The residents of the place I went to rob would have cut me into pieces,” he told our correspondent.
Narrating how he took part in a robbery operation that nearly cost him his life, Okonkwo explained that he would have stuck to picking pocket which was safer.
“I made up to N10,000 sometimes, when I was a pick-pocket at the Seme Border at Badagry,” he said remorsefully. “But I needed a lump sum of money to set up my electronics repair workshop. So, I decided to take part in this robbery operation.”
On March 24, 2015, an old acquaintance of Okonkwo’s, a young man he identified simply as Uche, told him to come to Sagamu.
He said, “I knew Uche about four years ago, when we were working at the Seme Border. At the time, I was doing odd jobs while also making money as a pick-pocket.
“Uche left Seme around 2012 and I did not know what he was doing while away. But in February, he came to Seme to buy some clothes and he told me that I should come and visit him in Sagamu.
“The day I went to see him on March 24, he told me of a plan to rob a company along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. That was the only details he gave me.
“By evening, I followed him to a bush around NASFAT and we hid there. He made a call and three other men joined us. I had not seen them before. Uche opened a leather bag he was carrying and brought out a locally made shotgun and pistol. He held on to one and gave the other to one of the other men. All I held was a machete.”
Saturday PUNCH learnt that around 2am, the five men proceeded to Olowotedo area where they robbed residents.
He told our correspondent that one of the gang members raped a woman in one of the houses they robbed.
“The woman was with her husband. But he raped the woman there. I did not take part and neither did the others,” Okonkwo said.
But residents of Olowotedo had notified one another, it was learnt. Soon, they had all gathered outside shouting ‘Thief! Thief!’
Okonkwo said when he peeped out of the window of the third house they were robbing, he realised that there was no way for them to escape.
“We went to the roof of the next house, still no way to escape for me. Three of our members, including Uche were lucky. I did not know when they escaped.
“Not long after that, the residents caught me and another member of our gang called Igwe. They beat us mercilessly and I thought they were going to kill us. They used the machete I was holding to flog and inflict cuts all over our bodies.”
Igwe was said to have died from the injuries inflicted on him. Different parts of Okonkwo’s body were dripping with pus when our correspondent spoke with him. The police had previously taken him to hospital for treatment but his injuries are extensive.
“I pray I see my son again. The first thing I would tell him is never to indulge in crime,” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the Ogun State Command, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi, said investigation was still ongoing as the police were working to track down other members of the gang.