I’ve been into robbery only three times, I am not a real armed robber so don’t use that eye to look at me. Don’t even think that all of us that the police just paraded are hardened criminals. I know I am not.
My name is Ekechukwu Linus. I am from the east and I am 25 years old. I came to Lagos to trade about four years ago but I spent all my money trying to make it in this town, but nothing happened.
I once hawked CDs on the road but it was not easy running after cars especially with some wicked drivers running away with your CD without paying. I then decided to go and do what you call apprenticeship, like boy boy, so I will, at least, be able to feed myself.
I became an apprentice to my uncle. This uncle, he is really not my uncle like that, he is my mother’s cousin but he is older than me. He has two spare parts shop at Ladipo. I was his boy for three and a half years. I also lived in his house at Mafoluku in Oshodi. But when time came for me to establish, he did not want to do the needful. You know when you finish learning a trade; your oga will give you something and set up a small shop so for you to make money for yourself.
This man did not, Okorie did not give me shinshin, he just kept turning me around, complaining about the economy, complaining that his mother was sick in the village, complaining that business was not moving, just always complaining so that he would not give me the required support after serving him for many years.
But I was not surprised, I knew his tricks because it was not the first time he would be dodging his responsibilities to his boys. He had done it to two of my guys who served him such that up till today, the boys have not got one single naira from him. He is a very stingy man and he will not die well.
When I realised Okorie was not dropping 10 kobo, I decided to hustle so I can take care of myself and my family at home. Apart from that, I already had a girlfriend, Nkechi who sold okrika at Yaba but lived in our yard in Mafoluku. Nkechi would always ask me for money, you know as women be?
“Give me money” today, “give me money” tomorrow and if you no give, na wahala. So when IK, one of my guys at the market said he could help me make extra cash, I was happy because I needed it for plenty things.
The first time I tried my hands on this stealing of a thing was in our yard. I “mistakenly” took another tenant’s jean trouser on the rope at the backyard. Na by mistake, I wanted to wear it and return it. But the man caught me at it and he started shouting, calling me a thief. I said bros, I no steal, me sef I spread jean trouser for rope and jeans na jeans…for where? He just dey charge, so I returned it.
The second robbery I did was the one IK invited me to. That one was to snatch bags and phones from women at the bus stop. The plan was to go to bus stops, IK would snatch phones and bags, pass to me and I will carry them away on okada.
Of the three of us, I was the only one who could ride okada perfectly. So first of all, we went to rent okada for the job. Then we went to Onipanu side. It will not be good to operate in the area where people will quickly know you, so we went to Onipanu.
That day, Ik and Busari his friend were supposed to snatch the bags and throw them to me because I can ride okada, I will collect the bags and go to a meeting place. But maybe because I was still an amateur, I had collected two bags but when I wanted to speed off, the bike just went off. See devil!
I was very confused because small time, I heard one woman shouting “Tif, oo, my bag! Tif!” and the worst part, she was just pointing at me. See as some people just pounced on me and beat me to nonsense. I managed to escape, but I left the okada.
That day, I spoilt business for my friends plus on top say, the gbese of okada dey my neck. The baba we rented okada from was asking for his okada or we pay him money. Where I go get that kind money to buy another okada na?
That was when I decided I had to join my friends for another operation because we had to get the money to buy another okada for the baba or give him N45,000.
The third time, we added another friend who had a bus so that we can do passengers one chance. I was sitting on the row after the driver whose name was K2. Busari who had the gun sat at the back row and then the conductor was at the door.
We went to Shogunle side, collected passengers going to Ijaiye. When we got to the express, we locked the door and began to obtain the passengers. I swear, we just wanted to obtain them, drop them on the road and go our way.
Initially the passengers were cooperating before one stubborn old man refused to give us his small bag. He was just shouting, shouting, shouting. Busari wanted to shoot him but I didn’t want another man’s blood on my head, so I told Busari not to shoot.
I think the baba swear for us, because we were already nearing Abule Egba when K2 said we should just drop everybody on the express. Come and see how immediately we dropped them, Mopol police surrounded us from nowhere. Immediately the passengers started shouting, “one chance, ole…” me, I just quickly ran out of the bus and began to run and run and run.
I don’t even know how I got to Mafoluku that night. That was when I told myself, dis thief business no dey my blood. I am going back home but no money to quickly travel. My sister, two days later, I was trying to enter night bus to my village when police crossed me at Ojota nah hin land me here o.
– Compiled by Peju Akande