The modus operandi of the syndicate was to destroy padlocks of their target shops with acid.
It was gathered that the suspects – Tochukwu Akorisa, Ndubuise Egwuatuonwu, Ifeanyi Eze and Aboi Rufus – had attacked a warehouse in the market, stealing 427 cartons of electric bulbs valued at N19.1m.
The shop owner reported the incident to the police, leading to the arrest of one Tona Nwenyi, who allegedly bought some of the goods from the suspects.
Nwenyi led the detectives attached to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police X-Squad to Akorisa, who reportedly coordinated the robbery operation.
A detective told Punch that Nwenyi was caught at the point of selling the stolen goods.
“Akorisa subsequently led us to his accomplices. Two other persons, Tony Eme and Ejike Chinwoba, who bought the bulbs from the gang, had been arrested.
“We have recovered about 100 cartons out of the 427 cartons they made away with, which is worth N19.1m,” the source said.
Twenty-six-year-old Akorisa, confessed to the act, adding that he intended to use the proceeds of the robbery to give his ailing mother a medical attention.
He said, “I load goods in the market. But the money I earned was not enough for me to take care of my sick mother. I led the operation. We used acid to break the padlock of the warehouse. We went around 9.30pm on that day.”
Egwuatuonwu explained that it was Akorisa, who facilitated the sales of the loot, adding that he was promised N250,000 from the deal.
“But I have not got anything before the police arrested me,” he added.
On his part, Rufus said, “This is my first time. My house rent has expired and I had been living with my friends. I want to rent an apartment. I was thinking of how to get money when Tochukwu (Akorisa) suggested that we rob the warehouse. We stole only 150 cartons of bulbs.”
One of the receivers, Nwenyi, said he wanted to return the bulbs to Akorisa, having discovered they were stolen, when he was arrested.
Chinwomba said, “I bought 30 cartons from Tochukwu. I have paid for 15 cartons. I didn’t know the goods were stolen.”
Police detectives are on the trail of other fleeing suspects.