20180806

Faces Of Notorious Thieves Who Steal From Churches In Abuja

Policemen in Abuja, the federal capital territory, have busted a two-man gang who specialized in burgling churches and carting away musical instruments and sound systems.

The suspects, who are residents of Apo district, are experts in stealing of sound systems, microphones, tambourines, guitars, generators, loudspeakers and the like from churches and disposing them at giveaway prices.

The names of the “church thieves” are, 
Nwobodo Christopher, 19, from Enugu State and Stephen Daniel, 23, from Adamawa State. They were arrested after they looted a Pentecostal church located in one of the settlements at Apo. 

According to their confession, the pair was part of a gang that has been robbing Christian places of worship in Lokogoma, Dutse, Damagaza and Apo areas.

They also told The Sun they pulled off their crimes in connivance with security guards working in churches and backed by a man who fenced their loot. In the Saturday Sun interview, Christopher Nwobodo, the 19-year-old, made a clean breast of it. He attributed their preference for musical instruments to the brisk demands from operators of drink joints and entertainment centres. Prior to their arrest, the business of burgling churches had been lucrative, it was the primary source of money for their basic needs and leisure.

Giving an insight into his background, Christopher said “I am Nwobodo Christopher. I am 19 years old. I am from Enugu State. I don’t have any work that I am doing. I attended Christ the King International College in Enugu State. I joined armed robbery when I came to Abuja.

"I came to Abuja in 2013, after one of my friends invited me to come over. He called me to come and stay with him because I didn’t have a job in Enugu. But when I got to Abuja, I found out that my friend also did not have a job, so I started making friends and connecting with people in the area, that is in Apo. I didn’t know them before, we don’t speak the same language but I just connected with them and I got into a robbery gang. Our targets are usually churches from where we steal big speakers, microphones, sound mixers, tambourines, and other musical instruments.”

Where and how often do they operate?, he says “I live at Apo, at a place called NEPA. We usually carry out our robbery operations at Dutse, on the road to Kubwa and Bwari. Sometimes, we would go to Damagaza, a village around the Apo area. We also go to Lokogoma to rob. Sometimes, two or three times a week; sometimes, once a week, depending on where we know we can get these items. We don’t operate every day, but we are always on the move.”

Speaking further on their modus operandi, the church thief said “The man that helps us to sell the goods we usually tell him the price that we want to sell each item and then he would go and sell them and give us the money or sometimes he would buy the goods himself, give us half of the money, and after he sold them, he would give us our balance. His name is Alhaji Iliya. He also lives in Apo, NEPA area. We sell loudspeakers, the big ones and the amplifier to him for N15,000. But he would give us N7,000.”

The Sun also interviewed his partner, Stephen Daniel, who tried to maintain a façade of innocence. According to him: “They didn’t inform me they were thieves, because before we went for the operation, Alhaji Iliya, the man who usually helps them to sell stolen items, called the security man guarding the church.”

He went on: “I am a businessman. I sell provision in my neighbourhood. It was my customers who connected me with Iliya. He called to tell me that if I have money I should bring it and take the speaker. When I had the money, I called him to bring the speaker to me. He told me we would have to go and carry the speaker."

Did he mean to say steal instead of ‘carry speaker’? 
"No," he insisted, “what they told me was that we are going to carry the speaker.”

When and where? 
"At past 1 am, inside a church". Daniel’s story, subsequently, fell like a pack of cards. “I didn’t know that it was a robbery operation before I joined them. I have never followed them before. This was my first time,” he wailed.