A man arrested by the operatives of the Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos State Police Command for being a major buyer of stolen mobile phones in Lagos State, has confessed to have bought over 4,256 mobile phones from robbers, pickpockets and one-chance gangs operating in the state.
The suspect, Kazeem Bamidele, 42, who is the Second Vice Chairman of the National Union of Road and Transport Workers, Ajegunle Unit, equally confessed to the RRS Intelligence Team that he has over 52 boys in Lagos State, who steal and sell “clean phones” to him constantly.
Kazeem, popularly known as Elewure in the social circle, was arrested when the RRS Intelligence Team quizzed two stolen phones users in Kogi State in connection with abduction and robbery cases in Lagos State.
The operatives had upon returning from a week-long investigation to Rivers, Enugu and Kogi States, swung into action by arresting Bamidele from his shop at Boundary Market, Ajegunle, after he was fingered to have been the seller of two Blackberry Z10 phones and a CAT phone collected from victims of robbery and abduction incidences in the metropolis.
Kazeem said: “I have over 52 boys who sell clean stolen mobile phones to me. On the average, I receive 38 ‘clean’ phones in a week. I have been in the business for more than two years.
“Boundary Market in Ajegunle, where I have office and shop, is where they sell the phones to me and that is where the buyers equally get them. I know they are stolen phones. Nearly every guy in Ajegunle is involved in this kind of runs. It is what they do to survive.
“I was pushed into the business by family pressure. I have two wives and seven children. I have so many dependants. What I pay as school fees alone is staggering.
“I had too many problems in life. My mother gave birth to 13 children for my father. Though both of them are no more, only three of us are left. I am the breadwinner of the family.
“My first wife’s children are part of the predicament I have. Since I married the second wife, I have not known peace. Can you believe that since I was arrested, she has never called or visited me? I know this is a lesson for me in life. She has seven children for me and what I paid as school fees for her children is staggering.
“I started out in life as elubo (yam flour), pepper and maize grinder. I know that most of these phones were gotten from pickpocketing, one chance and robbery.
“My second wife has mounted so much pressure on me to quit the business long ago but the financial pressure was stunning. I think I have come to a point I don’t need to be advised to stop it now.
“I buy Infinix Hot 2 at N10k and sell N12,000; Blackberry Z30 at N20,000 and sell at N22,000; buy Infinix Hot Note at N15,000 and sell at N17,000 and Samsung Galaxy X3 at N11,000 and sell at N14,000. I don’t buy iPhone because of its locking system.”
Investigators revealed that as at the time of his arrest, five stolen mobile phones were found with him.
He is presently helping the police to pick up his boys from their hideouts, bus stops and routes of operations.
Already, two commercial buses, popularly known as danfo, used for robbery and one chance operations, are presently at RRS Headquarters in Alausa.
It was also learnt that the suspect revealed to the police most of the boys who bring phones to his shop stay in hotels around the state.
“Some of the phones traced to Elewure were that of high profile members of the society as well as celebrities,” our source said.
According to the spokesperson of the Police in Lagos State, SP Dolapo Badmos, the force was following up the suspect’s revelations and is making steady progress in the investigation of the case.
The suspect has been transferred to SARS for further investigation and prosecution.