How Notorious Robbery Kingpin Was Nabbed
The terror reign of most wanted militant in Lagos, Tokiwe Joseph aka TK was recently brought to an end by the joint effort of security operatives from Lagos and Benin Republic. TK and 10 member of his gang were killed in a shoot out at the Seme border during a foiled robbery attempt.
Saturday Sun, gathered details the tragic end of the armed robber, the confession of Oz the suspect who planned the foiled robbery attempt and TK’s links with Tompolo.
The foiled robbery
The man who initiated the idea to raid banks and bureau de change offices at Seme border, Ozoemena Obi, popularly known as Oz confessed to the police that after the attack on banks in Agbara and the death of the Department of State Security (DSS) operatives and others, security around the creeks in Lagos state was beefed up.
“Nothing much was coming from pipeline vandalisation because there were many interests involved. Soldiers have taken over the place and to penetrate its ranks, you have to bribe heavily. Those, whose palms must be greased include the police, members of the civil defence corps and private securitya operatives before you can operate in the area. For some of us who were not into heavy movement, we could not cope.
“This was why I went back to Seme borders to do what I knew how to do best. We are the ones who smuggled goods into the country from Seme. There are designated routes that Police, Immigration and Customs pretend do not exist. I was a trusted friend of TK and anytime there was any job, he would alert me.
“After the soldiers took over everywhere, things became difficult and we were desperate to make money or we would die of hunger in the creeks. I have a friend, Mike who was based in Seme, he told me about the Bureau de change and banks at Seme border. He asked if I have friends with plenty of guns who could rob them. I told him that I have a friend who was responsible for many of the bank robbery incidents in Lagos and Ogun states. So, I called TK and we agreed to meet at Okokomaiko bus stop.
“In February, we finally agreed to meet with him at the designated bus stop. He drove to the spot on a motorcycle and Mike explained everything to him but he decided that I should go back and reconfirm if his claim was true or not. He gave me 100 dollars as a decoy so that I could change the money at the t bureau de change. I went there and pretended that I was looking for a good deal, I moved from one shop to another. I called him on phone and confirmed to him that what Mike said was true. The amount of dollars that I saw there was so much that I told TK that if he did not make up to one billion naira there, he should not give me a dime as my share.
“He was excited and we started planning how the operation would be carried out. He suggested that he wanted to come by road and I warned him that the road was very tight. I observed that there were so many security men everywhere, and our major challenge would be how to move arms across the border. I remembered one of my people who used to drive a truck and I promised to convince the man to move the arms for me. He refused when he heard that it was only 12 pieces of AK47 and two explosives. I begged him for days but he refused, So, I alerted TK about the situation. TK called and threatened to deal with him should anyone hear about the plan. When we discovered that it would be difficult, Mike suggested that they should go on water and that he knew the way very well. The initial plan was for them to enter Seme on Tuesday night, seek where to sleep and strike in the following morning shortly after the banks and bureau the change operators had opened shop. I was hoping that the operation would be a great hit.
“We also visited a native doctor who assured us that as long as his barefoot did not touch the ground, he would not be killed during the operation. Unfortunately, I was arrested by the police on the D-day. I refused to tell the police the truth because I knew that anyone who dared to disclose he knew TK would be in trouble. I lied because I wanted to live. I thank God that police arrested me, if not I would have been dead like TK,” he disclosed.
Begging for mercy, Chibuke Nwokoro, the truck driver swore that he kept the secret because he was threatened. He admitted that he knew Oz because he worked at the border and they had moved a lot of goods across the border together.
“He called me that he wanted me to help him transport 12 pieces of AK47 guns. I refused because I knew the implication, if caught. It was easier to get away from Customs if they catch me with contraband goods. For more than two weeks, he was pestering me to work with them but I refused. I even spoke with TK and explained to him that I don’t smuggle arms. He threatened to kill me if he heard it anywhere. I kept quiet because I did not want to die young,” he said.
How he was arrested
On his arrest, Saturday Sun gathered that Lagos State Police Command was placed on red alert on the possibility that there was going to be a bank robbery by TK and his gang members. Undercover detectives from Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and Police Border Patrol were deployed to be on alert. Inspector General of Police also deployed officers from his Special Intelligence Response Team (SIRT) to assist in providing intelligence on the activities of TK. Their counterparts from Republic of Benin were also alerted in case they entered their country.
On the D-day, being Tuesday, March 15, TK and 17 others embarked on the journey of no return. He hired two boats, more than 11 AK47 rifles, GPMG (General Purpose Machine Guns) and explosives. On getting to the border at about 11pm on that day, they were said to have anchored their boats and attempted to cross over on foot.
Armed Customs operatives who were also on alert observed about 15 men attempting to cross the border in a group. They were said to have flashed their torchlight at them and discovered that they were all armed. The vigilant Custom officers immediately opened fire but the armed men fled unaware of the location of the attackers.
TK and three others, who were ahead of the team fled into a nearby village. Security operatives who were in the vicinity also joined in the shootout. They gunned down the armed men except TK and three others.
It was gathered that TK whose main concern was to stay alive hid himself in the forest while he waited for the situation to calm down. The foiled robbery attempt went viral on the sosituation to calm down. The foiled cial media and was reported on TV stations as a result of which his informants alerted him. Unknown to him, the village he ran to also heard of the robbery attempt and that some of the suspects fled to the village.
Everyone were therefore, on the look out for any new face within the area. Unfortunately, when TK and others stepped out of the forest, they were spotted by hunters who accosted them. However, TK who could speak Yoruba language tried to convince the hunters that they were passersby, but the others could not. Then, the villagers decided to take them to the nearest police station/ border patrol to confirm who they were. As soon as TK spotted the security operatives, he resisted arrest by pulling out his pistol but he was gunned down by the security men.
An indigene of Ondo State, TK’s name entered the wanted list of the Police as far back as 2012 when three employees of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC who had gone to repair ruptured pipelines were missing. Two months later, the decaying corpses of the NNPC officials were found buried by suspected pipeline vandals in Arepo forest, Ogun State.
The Police Special Task Force on Anti-Pipeline Vandalism under the leadership of ACP Friday Ibadin then recovered bullet-ridden bodies of the workers, identified as a Deputy Manager in charge of Pipelines Right of Way and two other engineers deployed in the area to repair a damaged pipeline on September 5, 2012.
Six suspects identified as Posibi Ruben, Imerepmamu Joel, John Isaiah, Saheed Mudashiru, Ineye Okpose and Timi Gnungunu, who were hitherto, arrested in the course of investigation, alleged that TK, an Ijaw man, was the leader of the most popular camp within the area known as Fatola.
Names like Ossy and Igbekorowa were also mentioned as his deputies in the camp. Security operatives were kept busy within the axis following repeated cases of pipeline vandalization and fire outbreaks. Hundreds of suspected vandals perished during numerous encounters with security operatives while those who were caught alive confirmed that TK, Ossy and Igbekorowa were alive and much in control.
Not left out in harvest of deaths were security operatives on patrol who were gunned down and their corpses dragged into the creeks for burial.
Till date, the remains of the nine mobile policemen who were allegedly killed by TK and his men in 2013 have not been found.
Shortly after that incident, he mysteriously disappeared and the killing of security men subsided a bit. Unknown to security operatives, he was arrested the same year by the police because he was found in possession of arms.
Since his face was not known to anyone, he was charged to court bearing an unknown name.
Ossy and Igbekorowa automatically took over the leadership of the creeks but limited their activities to breaking pipelines and siphoning PMS.
Sometime in December 2014, TK was granted bail and released from Kirikiri prisons. As expected, TK jumped bail and went back to the creeks to take over leadership. That attempt did not go down well with Ossy who had been in control while he was in prison.
For peace to reign, TK moved down to Ijagemo area in Amuwo Odofin and quickly took over leadership while those who trusted in his leadership in the past, joined him over there. He regularly visited Fatola camp and was said to have sold the idea of robbing and kidnapping people to Ossy and Igbekorowa.
It was learnt that Ossy and Igbekorowa who happened to be ex-militants bought into the idea and decided to attack banks in Lagos. From Lekki, Ikorodu, Festac town and down to Agbara, TK led different robbery attacks on banks while some unfortunate Lagosians were kidnapped and made to pay huge ransom. The era of killing security operatives also returned. The Agbara robbery led to the arrest and death of so many gang leaders especially those who were hired from Delta State.
TK was particularly alarmed when detectives attached to SIRT tracked one of their commanders simply identified as Kelvin few days after the Agbara bank robbery.
Kelvin was arrested in Delta State after a wedding ceremony where he featured as the special guest of honour. The attempt to arrest him in the midst of his security details led to a serious shoot out and he sustained gunshot wounds. He was said to have given the names and details of all those who participated in the Lagos and Ogun bank robberies before he died of bullet wounds.
His confession led to the mass arrest of several members spread across the country including a serving army corporal who was alleged to have supplied TK arms from Maiduguri. Also arrested was a serving policeman who had since been dismissed and will soon be charged to court for selling arms from the police amoury to TK including one Millions, his well-trained sharp shooter.
Alarmed at the rate of arrests, TK who is married with children relocated his family to Delta State for safe keeping while he restricted his activities to the creeks.
Quest for amnesty
Seeking for the way out, TK contracted the services of a journalist based in Ondo State to write a story requesting that they were not considered during the amnesty program. The said journalist (names and media withheld) collected the sum of N1million as upfront payment for publication in three national dailies. The money which was part of his loot gotten from the bank robbery was handed over to the journalist through his bank account.
One of the suspects in police custody who were listed to among the amnesty programme beneficiaries said that they were advised to take pictures of themselves in the creeks holding guns. “We were even given uniforms to wear and snap pictures. It was the journalist who advised us to take the photograph. He said that was how Tompolo got amnesty and if he succeeds, TK would also be given an oil bloc as compensation. Despite all our efforts, the police were still arresting and arresting so many of our members.”
Meanwhile, a joint task force consisting of all the security operatives in the state was formed and every entry and exit points blocked. Soldiers took over the creeks and most of the vandals who could not survive in the creek fled. TK remained in his camp but sneaks in and out once in a while. He knew it would be suicidal for security men to enter the creeks because of the swampy terrain.
Gradually, he ran out of cash, the presence of the military around his base reduced the number of buyers of stolen PMS. His problem heightened when Tompolo, his former lord was declared wanted by the police.
It was reliably learnt that Tompolo, a fugitive ex-warlord who had since returned to the creeks advised TK to come down to Delta State, as it is safer for him and he could also start oil bunkering over there. Not willing to serve another man, TK stayed back while he gradually became broke.
Several attempts to attack banks in Epe and Badagry areas were repelled by security operatives before Oz, his loyal boy convinced him to embark on the operation that eventually cost him his life.
TK was said to be popular among women because of his generosity. His major challenge was his inability to produce a male child but he loved his first and only legal wife who he moved out of Lagos when it was obvious that police were tracing family members of all his gang men.
He became worried and ordered one of his ladies to relocate his wife and three daughters down to Delta State.
The lady was tracked and picked up in Benin by policemen who were on the trail of TK. The lady, at the police station lamented that TK would never come out because she was arrested.
“We are so many. I believe that he loves, this very one that gave birth to the three girls that is why he wanted to relocate them to Benin.”
Weeks ago, he got good news from one of his pregnant wives based in Ketu that she had given birth to a baby boy. Out of excitement, TK promised to buy a car for her and relocate her to a more suitable accommodation. On the day he was gunned down, his most loved woman called requesting for money.
TK told her that he was on a very important operation and that she should pray for his success. He assured her that he would shower her with money as soon as he returned. The lady said,
“Yes dear, all the best.” But TK never returned to fulfill the promise.
When we heard gunshots inside the police station, we knew a commander had been arrested -Suspects
Still in shock were suspected robbers who knew and participated in several bank robberies with TK
Top on the list is Millions, who was arrested in Benin where he had relocated with his family. He insisted that the move was to rid himself of any possibility that the gang might contact him.
“I gave my life to Christ on January 1 and that is the truth. In fact, I had completed plans with NDDC to get contract before I was arrested.
One thing I can say about TK was that he is a gallant warrior who protected the interest of his boys. I watched how he behaved and carried himself during the entire robbery incident especially in Festac Town. Even before I gave my life to Christ, I advised them all to change for good. Even if I was not caught, there was no way I would have joined them for this robbery.”
Next on the line was Dennis Njoku, the man who was alleged to be the brain behind all the explosives that they used during the bank robberies in 2015.
“I am from Imo State and my family members were embarrassed when they learnt that I was arrested. The truth is that I know Ossy a long time ago when he was a militant. The amount was tempting, so I agreed but I was only their driver throughout all the bank robberies. It was when I was arrested months after the robbery that I knew that there is nothing hidden under the sun.
“We were inside the cell when we heard several gunshots. My heart skipped because I knew that a great criminal had been arrested. Policemen were celebrating and later on, they announced to us that TK had been killed.” Other suspects, especially his arms suppliers fell on their knees begging for mercy. They all indirectly thanked God that they were not part of the robbery incident that led to the death of TK.
And CP Owoseni danced
As soon as it was confirmed that TK was amongst the dead, the Lagos State command burst into celebration. The last time such celebration took place in the command was when the notorious robbery kingpin, Abiodun Egunjobi a.k.a Godogodo was arrested in 2014.
The commissioner of police, Fatai Owoseni who could not hide his excitement was spotted dancing when he got the news.
Still at large
Although TK had been eliminated, the policemen are is still on the trail of Ossy, Agballa, Kpekere and others who still control the Fatola camp. These ex-militants, are confirmed to have also participated in all the recent bank robberies and also aware of the various kidnap cases planned from the creek